What's Left For Bullpen Arms

Prior to this weekend, the Twins had only three real locks to play a prominent role in the 2012 bullpen. Love it or hate it (and I don't recall too many loving it), Matt Capps was signed to be the closer. Glen Perkins broke out as a dominant setup man in 2011, and Brian Duensing's deadly numbers against lefties make him well suited to be the pen's secondary southpaw.

Then the Twins, recognizing a lack of power arms and a lack of options against tough right-handers, signed Joel Zumaya. As Jesse pointed out, it's a great buy-low signing that carries very little risk. The problem is though, that the Twins still only have three real locks for the 2012 bullpen. Zumaya could dominate as he did in his rookie campaign, but the smart money is on him spending a great deal of time on the disabled list or perhaps not even making the club at all.

A nice addition to the bullpen in a best case scenario is good, but some stability is required as well. I've compiled a quick custom leaderboard over at Fangraphs that runs down the remaining free agent right-handed relievers and their splits against same-handed hitters over the past three seasons. We'll take a look at more after the jump.

Name Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 K% BB% AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% ERA FIP E-F xFIP
Peter Moylan Braves 9.08 2.55 3.57 0.25 25.8 % 7.2 % .213 1.05 .288 79.4 % 1.87 2.39 -0.53 2.67
Jason Isringhausen - - - 8.82 3.03 2.91 0.55 24.1 % 8.3 % .183 1.01 .233 77.6 % 2.48 3.07 -0.59 3.90
Taylor Buchholz - - - 9.26 2.70 3.43 0.77 26.4 % 7.7 % .181 0.94 .228 84.2 % 1.93 3.13 -1.20 3.67
Chad Qualls - - - 7.23 1.83 3.95 0.78 19.5 % 4.9 % .234 1.11 .274 61.3 % 4.18 3.25 0.93 3.30
Todd Coffey - - - 7.61 1.95 3.90 0.78 21.2 % 5.4 % .222 1.05 .265 70.6 % 3.12 3.26 -0.14 3.36
Michael Wuertz Athletics 10.29 3.76 2.74 0.89 27.6 % 10.1 % .225 1.25 .298 73.2 % 3.66 3.36 0.30 3.31
Dan Wheeler - - - 8.33 1.44 5.78 1.20 24.2 % 4.2 % .195 0.87 .223 78.2 % 2.88 3.46 -0.58 3.39
Tony Pena - - - 6.56 1.77 3.71 0.93 16.8 % 4.5 % .294 1.41 .337 64.0 % 4.96 3.60 1.36 3.74
Ramon Ortiz - - - 6.75 2.17 3.11 0.96 19.1 % 6.1 % .203 0.99 .226 66.9 % 3.38 3.66 -0.29 3.70
Shawn Camp Blue Jays 6.14 2.07 2.97 0.71 17.1 % 5.8 % .238 1.10 .272 73.7 % 2.93 3.71 -0.78 3.78
Luis Ayala - - - 4.64 2.15 2.15 0.33 12.4 % 5.8 % .265 1.23 .299 76.5 % 2.82 3.72 -0.91 4.43
David Aardsma Mariners 8.85 3.48 2.54 1.02 25.4 % 10.0 % .162 0.95 .189 54.9 % 4.35 3.75 0.60 4.10
Scott Linebrink - - - 7.73 2.96 2.61 1.24 19.9 % 7.6 % .269 1.38 .314 81.0 % 3.24 4.38 -1.14 4.09
Brad Lidge Phillies 9.55 3.88 2.46 1.38 24.4 % 9.9 % .246 1.38 .301 67.1 % 5.26 4.39 0.87 3.87
Clay Hensley Marlins 7.26 3.06 2.38 1.15 18.8 % 7.9 % .239 1.26 .272 73.1 % 4.20 4.41 -0.21 4.14
Chad Durbin - - - 8.46 3.49 2.43 1.26 21.8 % 9.0 % .241 1.31 .284 74.1 % 4.38 4.47 -0.09 4.18
Danys Baez - - - 4.30 2.70 1.59 0.90 11.2 % 7.0 % .244 1.24 .257 59.0 % 5.30 4.62 0.68 4.40
Jamey Wright - - - 5.31 3.86 1.38 0.86 13.1 % 9.5 % .272 1.50 .300 73.3 % 3.69 4.78 -1.10 4.56
Micah Owings - - - 6.66 3.44 1.94 1.31 17.6 % 9.1 % .231 1.25 .252 66.9 % 4.95 4.83 0.12 4.62
Juan Cruz - - - 7.94 5.40 1.47 1.27 20.1 % 13.7 % .251 1.55 .293 67.7 % 5.56 4.93 0.63 5.09
Jeremy Accardo - - - 5.77 4.72 1.22 1.31 13.9 % 11.4 % .343 1.92 .381 74.6 % 5.50 5.24 0.26 5.09
Pat Neshek - - - 7.58 7.58 1.00 1.89 17.8 % 17.8 % .208 1.63 .212 83.9 % 4.74 6.94 -2.20 6.10

There's the full table, sorted by FIP (though you can click the link to play around with it and see batted ball data and other info), suggests that the five deadliest arms against right-handed hitters since 2009 include Peter Moylan, Jason Isringhausen, Taylor Buchholz, Chad Qualls, and Todd Coffey. However a quick look at the innings totals of that group shows that it's far from a reliable one.

Only Coffey and Qualls have consistently provided innings for their teams in that time, and one of those seasons was a nightmarish 2010 campaign for Qualls in which he posted a 7.32 ERA. Peripheral stats and sabermetrics will tell a different tale (hence the strong FIP), but those certainly haven't been embraced with open arms by the Twins' front office.

Michael Wuertz generates the most strikeouts of the group, fanning a scintillating 27.6% of the righties he faces and checking in with a 3.36 FIP, but he's had health problems of his own. He's a Minnesota native, hailing from Austin, but a look at his Baseball Prospectus profile shows that he's taken three trips to the 15-day DL since 2010 and has missed a combined 90 games since Opening Day that season.

David Aardsma has whiffed righties with the best of them, but Tommy John surgery last July will have him shelved for the majority of the 2012 season; he might contribute two months down the stretch.

If you switch over to see how that group fares against left-handed pitching, well, don't get your hopes up. Wuertz leads the pack with a K% of 26.9 and a 4.06 FIP, while Qualls (14.3% and 4.39) and Coffey (16.2% and 4.74) are probably the next best options overall.

If the Twins truly are keeping the door on guys like Coffey and Dan Wheeler open, as Phil Mackey suggested after the Zumaya signing, they're looking in the right place. Those two, along with Qualls, seem to represent the best mix of durability and success against right-handed hitters. A name like Wuertz may possess more upside, but at some point, you have to be able to simply depend on the fact that you'll have someone to take the ball. If the Twins were to sign one of Coffey/Qualls and then add Wuertz as well, I'd be on board with that. But with one upside signing in the books, the emphasis needs to be not only on that upside, but reliability. Another season of seeing Alex Burnett work the eighth inning isn't exactly appealing.

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