Thursday, July 25, 2019

Good-bye, Parker

The Twins decision Wednesday to lop Blake Parker from the roster took me by surprise.

It's not that he was pitching well. He wasn't.

The Twins have jettisoned relievers with some frequency over the past week: Adalberto Mejia, Mike Morin, Matt Magill, now Parker. Parker is different because he had been a central piece of the bullpen from the get-go. When the season started, Parker was Rocco Baldelli's preferred end-game option. The other three were marginal relievers; Parker was supposed to be something more than that.

On June 1, Parker had a 1.86 ERA. His ERA today is 4.21. That's obviously going in the wrong direction, but Baldelli never really stopped trying to get important innings and outs from him.

The Twins replaced him on the roster with Carlos Torres, a 36-year-old who has bounced around. When he gets into a game for the Twins, it will be his seventh major league team in 10 seasons. He's spent much of this year, and 2018, in the minors. There's not a lot of reason, scouting the statline, to see him as an upgrade on Parker, and I would think Baldelli would be hesitant to try to use him in a key role.

There are, broadly speaking, two possibilities here:

  • The Twins don't think they can fix Parker, or can't take the time to fix him or
  • The front office panicked and overreacted to a slump.

I don't think Falvine panics readily, so I'm going with option one.

So ... the current state of the Minnesota bullpen. I'll sort it into three groups:
  • The ace. Taylor Rogers, his blown save on Tuesday notwithstanding, is the clear top dog of the relief staff -- and the only lefty.
  • Trevor May, Tyler Duffey and Ryne Harper are the three right-handers Baldelli is most likely to use in high-leverage situations. 
  • The shuttle crew -- pitchers who move between the major league roster and Rochester. Some have options, some (Torres) don't. They're disposable. Right now that group includes Torres, Lewis Thorpe and Cody Stashak.
The Twins are demoting Delvin Smeltzer after his five-inning outing of Wednesday, so somebody is coming today to give the Twins eight bullpen arms. Whoever it is, will be part of the shuttle crew.

Duffey and Harper have risen from the shuttle crew to more prominent roles, but part of that has been the failure of other pitchers who had prominent roles, specifically Parker and Trevor Hildenberger, now on the injured list at Triple A.

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