Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The return of COPOP

Now that the Twins have cleared some of the underbrush in their forest of pitching candidates, it's time to bring back one of last spring's blog staples: Current Outsider Projected Opening Pen, my guess at who will be in the Twins bullpen on Opening Day.

This spring feels a lot different from last year, when COPOP changed frequently, in no small part because many of the roles had no obvious fit. Today, four of the seven slots are certain (short of calamity) and two others have what appear from this distance to have clear front-runners.

Matt Capps is one
bullpenner with
a secure role.
Names in italics are my front runners. Names in parentheses are other candidates for the role, in order of their chances.

Closer: Matt Capps
Setup 1: Glen Perkins
Setup 2/MR 1: Jared Burton (Alex Burnett, Casey Fein)
LOOGY 1/MR2?: Brian Duensing
MR 3: (Jeff Manship, Kyle Waldrop, Burnett)
MR 4/L2: Matt Maloney (Terry Doyle, Phil Dumatrait)
Long man: Anthony Swarzak

I fully expect the Setup 2 role to go to a right-handed power arm. Burton's been the best of that collection. I would prefer to see the MR3 job go to a righty with a different out pitch, whether that be Manship's curve or Waldrop's sinker. The MR4 job may depend on how Ron Gardenhire and Rick Anderson want to use that pitcher, but at this point Maloney looks like the most effective of the candidates, and I was intrigued by him from the time the Twins picked him up in October.


  1. Aren't you jumping the gun a bit. There are almost two weeks left until opening day. There is a lot of baseball left against a higher level of competition.

    I also think anyone still in camp is likely a candidate. Why would they keep guys like Wise, Gray and Deduno around if they weren't under consideration for some role? I would include Doyle in that, although I think he is a long shot at this point.

    I also doubt Duensing is going to have a LOOGY role, unless you are broadening that term to be synonymous with left handed middle reliever. He isn't going to be limited to facing one lefty at a time.

  2. I think TT is right here. There is no reason to keep any of those guys around at the major league camp once they have eliminated themselves from consideration. You can always fill innings at the end of games with non-roster minor leaguers if you have more innings at the end of games than you have pitchers.

    I doubt if roles are really set either. The Twins tend to pick who they believe are the best pitchers and let the roles set themselves. At least to some degree. While they would like pitchers with a variety of strengths, I think they usually just try to take the best pitchers.

    I don't think I said that very well. Usually the roles evolve as the season goes on. Gardy likes set roles but will change things as pitchers show what they can and can't do.