Monday, August 1, 2016

Contemplating Brandon Kintzler

Brandon Kintzler has
passed the released
Kevin Jepsen for the
team lead in saves.
Brandon Kintzler blew his first save op of the season Saturday, which was also the third straight game in which he pitched. Ryan Pressly got the save Sunday.

There are other internet know-it-alls who say the Twins should trade Kintzler today. This internet know-it-all won't go that far, because I don't know what the market is for him. The case for peddling him can also be the case for other teams to avoid picking him up.

Let's examine the case for moving -- and retaining -- the Twins' surprise closer.

Trade him 

The Twins don't have much invested in him; he was a minor league free agent. While he has converted eight of his nine save opportunities and sports a 2.14 ERA, his underlying numbers aren't that impressive: only 5.6 strikeouts per nine innings and a FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) of 3.79, suggesting that his ERA strongly overstates his effectiveness.

Keep him

He's clearly the reliever Paul Molitor most trusts. While Kintzler's not missing bats, he's also not walking hitters either; he's struck out seven hitters for every walk issued. And he's still under team control for next year, so even if Glen Perkins reclaims the glory job next spring or one of the young power arms emerges, he can be a piece of the future bullpen.


The "sell high" notion really only applies if at least one buyer puts a great deal of importance on the save stat in evaluating relief pitchers. I believe that while saves matter to managers, general managers today aren't getting wound up in that number. And even those who are inclined to think there's something different and magical about getting ninth-inning outs aren't likely to overpay for a guy with eight saves in his career.

I won't be disappointed if Rob Antony keeps Kintzler, and I won't be riled if Antony trades him for a prospect. I certainly don't think Kintzler should be given away, and I don't think he will be.

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