Each week I like to write an article that will both entertain and draw feedback from Twins fans and Twinkie Town readers, whether the feedback agrees with my view or not. During the season, I like to write articles that gives the Twins fan and reader a chance to both voice their opinion and generate discussion within the Twins community. This week we continue this theme by asking the Twins fans and Twinkie Town readers this question. Who will be the Twins set-up man in 2015?
In looking at this question, there are four or five names to choose from that are expected to complete for the position in 2015. There are some other fringe players that we could look at for this position but for this article, we will stick with the players that are on the 25 or 40 man rosters and that have the greatest chance of winning the set-up position battle in 2015. Below we will profile each of the players that are in line for the set-up position and at the end will give you my prediction for 2015. On to the players!
- Casey Fien - Casey returns from 2014 as the #1 pitcher in the battle for the set-up position. Fien held this position for most of 2014 and pitched decently during this time frame. There are a couple of items that may jump out at Twins management including the 8.31 ERA after August 1 and the slash line of .342/.363/.513 during that span. Fien still averages 7.25 strikeouts per nine innings, making him one of the better strikeout pitchers currently in the Twins bullpen.
- Caleb Thielbar - Caleb is another interesting option for the Twins in the set-up position and he burst on to the scene in 2013, posting some impressive numbers including a 1.76 ERA and and 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings. 2014 saw a drop in Caleb's numbers as he posted a 3.40 ERA and 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings but Thielbar's performance and comfort in the Twins bullpen could make him a viable option for this role.
- Michael Tonkin - Michael is another young bullpen arm, like Thielbar, that is trying to solidify a spot in the Twins bullpen for 2015. While Tonkin may be a stretch for the set-up role, Michael has some reasons to be looked at for this position. Tonkin looked strong when first appearing in the Twins bullpen in 2013. Posting a 0.79 ERA and 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings over an eleven inning stretch gave the Twins hope for 2014. Michael's numbers dropped back in 2014 as he posted a 4.74 ERA over 19 innings but still kept a 7.6 strikeout to nine innings ratio, making Tonkin a strikeout threat from the bullpen if chosen in 2015.
- Ryan Pressly - Pressly would be a long shot to fill this role for the Twins in 2015, mostly because he has never held this role before or even the 7th inning role. Ryan was back and forth between the minors and the majors in 2014 as he was battling with Tonkin and others for a spot in the bullpen. Pressly does have some numbers that could persuade the Twins to look his way in 2015. Ryan pitched well in AAA last season with a 2.98 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings. Once making his way to the majors in 2014, Pressly posted a 2.86 ERA in 25 games with a 4.4 strikeout per nine innings ratio.
- Tim Stauffer - While the initial thought was that Stauffer may be competing for the fifth starter job, it looks more like Tim will be occupying a bullpen spot for the Twins in 2015 if he goes to Minneapolis and not AAA once Spring Training is completed. If his last two seasons show his continued performance, then a short role (7th or 8th inning) would suit Tim well as in the last two seasons out of the Padres bullpen, Stauffer went 9-3 with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. He also struck out 131 batters in 134 innings. This is another strikeout pitcher that the Twins could use in the later innings.
After looking at each of these players in depth and factoring in other possible players etc., my prediction is that this will be Casey Fien's job to lose to start the 2015 season. I feel that the Twins are not quite ready to put either Thielbar or Tonkin in that position quite yet and would like them to get some more experience in other bullpen roles. I would not be surprised though to see Thielbar lock down the 7th inning role. Pressly looks to be fit for a role in the bullpen as a situational pitcher or as a guy that can come in to handle a couple of innings. Stauffer to me looks to be the player that will fill the Anthony Swarzak role right now, spot starting and long relief in the bullpen.
There you have it Twinkie Town readers, Casey Fien is my pick to be the set-up man for the Twins in 2015. The question is who do you think will be the Twins set-up man in 2015? Vote using the poll below and please definitely comment with you feel will hold this role and comment as to why. Until next week Twinkie Town readers, have fun watching/listening to Spring Training this week!