Friday, September 28, 2018

Imagining the 2019 bullpen

The Twins used six pitchers Thursday night, with Stephen Gonsalves the "primary" pitcher but only recording 10 outs. He and "opener" Gabriel Moya were the two most ineffective pitchers the Twins used, but Gonsalves got credited with the win, for whatever that's worth.

Anyway: None of the six spent the entire 2018 season with the big league club, and their ERAs suggest why: 4.84, 6.57, 3.88, 7.82, 6.61, 5.68. (The 3.88 is Matt Magill.)

The Twins last offseason brought in three veteran relievers as free agents -- Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed and Zach Duke. They traded two of them away, and Reed, who has another year on his contract, has been an afterthought since returning from his first career stint on the disabled list.

Not counting position players or starters under another name, I count 19 relievers used by Paul Molitor this season. Six of the 19 are no longer in the organization. Only two, Trevor Hildenberger and Taylor Rogers, have been on the active roster throughout.

Hildenberger was given an opportunity these last two months of the season to claim the closers role. He hasn't, and nothing he does in the final weekend will change that. The Twins will go into the offseason with a vacancy in the glory job, and that means the rest of the roles are undecided.

If the 2019 closer is on the roster now, it's probably Trevor May. But Molitor has used May with some caution in this post-op season, and I can see him being aimed at the starting rotation next year.

I suspect the Twins will delve again into the free-agent market in search of another stopgap closer for 2019. They'd like to have a set guy for the ninth to build the rest of the bullpen around, and I don't think they are comfortable with the notion of starting next season with May, Hildenberger or Reed in the role.

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