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Twins targeting Steve Cishek?

The Twins are focusing on upgrading the bullpen as their number one priority. Marlins right-hander Steve Cishek appears to be one of their targets.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Two weeks ago we took a preliminary look at seven relievers who I thought would be good targets for the Twins in their efforts to bolster the bullpen. Names like Will Smith, Carter Capps, Tyler Clippard, and Jonathan Papelbon will stick out either as good fits or as players who I obviously really like. Eight days from the trade deadline there's been little credible movement other than the occasional list of potential fits, but today it seems like the market for Steve Cishek is heating up.

Cishek, who turned 29 last month, was the Marlins' closer from mid-2012 (when he took over for a struggling Heath Bell) through the early portion of this year. His performance bombed so hard in the early going this spring that Miami sent him to Double-A, but since his return on June 14 he's appeared in 12 games (11.2 innings) and sported a 0.77 ERA and .592 opponent OPS.

Your comfort with the idea of Cishek probably depends on what you trust. Do you trust his resurgence and his track record (2.65 career ERA prior to this year, 284 strikeouts in 258 innings), or do his early season struggles make you wary?

For what it's worth, Cishek's peripheral statistics seem to indicate he's far better than his performance earlier this year. His line drive rates are in spitting distance of his career average, he's not allowing more well-struck balls (and in fact he's allowing far more softly-hit balls in play), and in spite of a drop in strikeout rate his swinging strike percentage is nearly identical to what it was last year. Contact rates are very similar to what we're used to seeing as well.

The biggest alteration from earlier in his career is Cishek's velocity. Perhaps due in part to the drop in velocity, his usually good changeup hasn't been as effective in 2015.

Cishek velocity 2015

Velocity chart via FanGraphs

If the Twins do want Cishek, they won't be alone in the bidding. There's reason to think that he wouldn't be terrible expensive to acquire, but on the flip side you get what you pay for. Cishek has the potential to be a pretty good set-up man for Glen Perkins or he could, more or less, not be any better than Blaine Boyer. There's definitely risk here beyond what Minnesota would pay to acquire him.

Aramis Ramirez was sent from Milwaukee to Pittsburgh, and Scott Kazmir was sent from Oakland to Houston, so the first pieces are starting to fall. I imagine that things will start to move a bit more now. Stay tuned to see how the Twins fare.