Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Contemplating Fernando Abad

Monday's post, which made some assumptions about the Twins 2016 bullpen, made no mention of Fernando Abad, a veteran lefty reliever signed as a minor league free agent. Abad may well be the front runner for the vacant slot in my rough draft, but since he's not on the 40-man roster, he lacks the presumption that graces the likes of Casey Fien.

But here are two reasons to believe Abad (pronounced uh-BAHD) will come out of spring training with a job:

  • He has more than 250 major league appearances on his resume, which is more than the other (non-Perkins) lefty candidates have combined;
  • He throws a change up.

Pitching coach Neil Allen is well-known as an advocate of the change, but this facet of Abad's repertoire matters beyond Allen's pitch advocacy. Remember: Terry Ryan has said he's not interested in a left-handed specialist. He wants a lefty who can get right-handers out as well. As a general rule, lefties who are death on left-handed hitters rely on a breaking ball to complement the fastball; lefties with reverse platoon splits use a changeup.

Abad, according to the data published in the Ball James Handbook, threw about as many changeups (13 percent of his pitches) as curve balls (12 percent). (He was 55 percent fastballs and 20 percent cutters). That's not the sort of ratio one expects to see from a LOOGY.

My bias is toward giving one of the inexperienced pitchers a shot at the job. But Abad appears to fit the general outline the Twins have for a bullpen lefty.

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