Thursday, November 14, 2013

Eye on 2014: What about Ryan Pressly?

Ryan Pressly made
it through his Rule 5
season, so the Twins
are free to send him
to the minors next year.
The Twins got Ryan Pressly in the Rule 5 draft, which meant he had to be carried on the active roster all season or offered back to the Boston Red Sox. That wasn't much of a problem; he had a very strong first half and, even with his second half fade, it was pretty obvious that he was worth keeping.

He ended 2013 with a 3-3, 3.87 record in 76.2 innings, all in relief. He ranked fourth in the American League in relief innings (teammate Anthony Swarzak was first). 

Even as Pressly's ERA ballooned in the second half (3.09 before the All-Star break, 4.91 after), it seemed that every time he entered a game Bert Blyleven talked on TV about shifting him to a starter's role in future seasons.

The Twins have an obvious need for starting pitchers, but it is less than obvious that Pressly is a good candidate for the role

Three points:

  • Boston exposed him to the Rule 5 draft for a reason. Pressly struggled at every level in the Red Sox system until they moved him to a relief role. It was the shift to the bullpen that made him worth taking in Rule 5.
  • Pressly's season deteriorated as his innings mounted. That doesn't suggest that a starter's heavier workload is a good fit.
  • Even with the bullpen boost -- pitchers throw with greater velocity when working in relief's shorter stints -- Pressly still had a below average strikeout rate. He fanned 5.8 men per nine innings, almost two less than the AL average. 

Blyleven's fixation on the idea of Pressly as a starter probably wasn't his; he was doubtless getting this notion fed to him by the Twins. So I wouldn't be surprised if the Twins chose to send him to Triple A with the intent of making him a starter.

I would be surprised if it worked. The available evidence says Pressly belongs in the bullpen. 

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