Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Brian Duensing as a bullpen cornerstone

The Twins have a lot of openings in their starting rotation.

Not so with their bullpen.

Even without Matt Capps (who'll be a free agent with the Twins declining his option), Carlos Gutierrez (claimed on waivers by the Cubs) and Kyle Waldrop and Luis Perdomo (outrighted), the Twins can still fully stock their relief corps effectively with the pitchers on hand.

Brian Duensing had
a good season as a
relief pitcher, a poor
one as a starter.
Assuming, that is, that Brian Duensing is a reliever rather than a starter.

Closeer: Glen Perkins
Setup 1: Jarrod Burton
Setup 2/LOOGY 1: Duensing
MR 1: Casey Fein
LOOGY 2: Tyler Robertson
MR 2: Alex Burnett
Long man: Anthony Swarzak

Nothing wrong at all with the top four, or with the long man. The weak spots are Burnett, whose good 2012 ERA (3.53) is out of whack with his lousy walk and strikeout rates; and Robertson, who hung a few too many sliders to good left-handed power hitters and got burned. As the fifth and sixth men in a bullpen, they're acceptable, but not in more prominent roles.

But Duensing is supposed to be a contender for the starting rotation, and if he's not in the 'pen, the Twins lack a good southpaw specialist. Robertson has the stuff for that job, but not the consistency. I would be reluctant to make him the primary lefty in the bullpen.

The rotation is, correctly, the primary concern. But if the Twins seriously consider Duensing part of the solution -- and I'm not sure he is -- they would do well to have an alternative to him in the bullpen. It's something to keep an eye on this offseason.

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