Saturday, October 14, 2017

Brandon Kintzler, free agent

Brandon Kinzler
pitched in three
games in the NLDS
with an ERA of
I suggested Thursday in my final KMSU segment of the season that the Twins might focus more on building their bullpen depth this winter than on the starting rotation.

That thought might have been overly influenced by the bullpen-crazy postseason so far, but there is, or should be, little doubt that a lot of the teams playing in October were capable of smothering the opposition with waves of quality relievers -- Indians, Yankees, post-deadline Nats, Rockies.

The Twins were never in that position. Paul Molitor spent pretty much the entire season with three relievers he trusted and four he didn't -- and the identity of the ones he trusted shifted frequently.

Molitor trusted Brandon Kintzler right up to when Kintzler was traded at the deadline. And with the Washington Nationals eliminated, Kintzler becomes a free agent.

Dusty Baker handled Kintzler more roughly than Molitor did. Kintzler made 45 appearances for the Twins in four months, mostly to protect leads at the end of games. Kintzler made 27 appearances for the Nationals in two months, mostly in the seventh and eighth innings. He had 10 holds and one save -- and two blown saves -- for Baker.

The ERA was more than a half-run higher in Washington, but the underlying stats weren't a lot different. He was essentially the same pitcher, just used differently. Low strikeout rate, lower walk rate, challenge the hitters to do something with well-located pitches with movement.

Kintzler turned 33 on Aug. 1, so he's no youngster. The analytics don't like his strikeout rate. Bur I will wager Molitor would like him back, and the price is unlikely to be a deterrent. There may not be another organization that would seriously view Kintzler as a closer candidate.

Derek Falvey and Thad Levine would be justified in wondering: If we sign Kintzler, will his presence discourage Molitor from using a higher-ceiling pitcher? Probably, if we're only concerned about the closer role. But the 2017 Twins were short all season on reliable relief arms. Kintzler may be low ceiling, but he's also high floor. Ninth inning or seventh inning, he can help.

No comments:

Post a Comment