Solutions to the Bullpen Woes

FIRE JEPSEN!!!!!!!!!11 - Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

How about that bullpen this year, eh? In the shambles of this season so far, I don’t think anybody has a definitive answer on where to start improving the team this year. There are so many variables that have gone so wrong – offense, defense, rotation, bullpen, coaches, front office, fans, the sun, the earth, the stars – the list goes on. Some may say that the bullpen is a major issue. I say that the bullpen is the least of our worries, with maybe an exception or two. Below are my three things our Minnesota Twins need to do to better the bullpen and why:

1. The starting rotation needs to step up its game.

Calculating each starting pitcher’s innings pitched divided by the number of games they started (IP/GS), I found that our starting pitchers average 5 1/3 innings a start. The numbers below are through Friday night.





Jose Berrios




Pat Dean




Tyler Duffey




Kyle Gibson




Phil Hughes




Alex Meyer




Tommy Milone




Ricky Nolasco




Ervin Santana




Team Total

249 2/3



(Note that in order to calculate this, 2/3 of an inning = .66.)

Stats are from

The starting staff is worst in the AL with 5.32 runs allowed per game, second worse in losses (22), second worse in quality starts (18), and the starting staff accounts for 64.7% of the team’s losses.

That leaves the bullpen with 165 1/3 innings to eat up. Additionally, our bullpen has appeared 153 times, tied with Oakland and behind the Angels (159) in comparison to AL teams. Since our bullpen has been used quite a bit, they show the most amount runs allowed per game (5.32), second most losses (12), tied for first in regards to blown saves (9, with Seattle), and the worst save percentage (31%).

If the Twins starting pitchers went 6 innings a game on average at this point in the season, which would be 282 innings, the bullpen staff would have pitched about 32 1/3 innings less. That’s 32 1/3 innings of less work. Essentially, our bullpen has been over-worked. Now that’s not an excuse for the bullpen imploding (a.k.a. the Fien-Jepson Syndrome), but I believe it’s a big reason that the bullpen has been less than stellar so far this year.

2. Jepson needs to go, or figure out what is wrong and work on it now.

Yes, it may be kinda early in the season, but from what we’ve seen, Jepson is a liability for more losses than we can already afford:

Jepson has appeared in less games (20) than most main bullpen arms (Pressly, 24; Tonkin, 21; May, 23; and Abad, 21), and yet has the most amount of losses (4) than anyone else in the bullpen as well as the starting staff, with the exception of Hughes (7). (On the bright side, he also has the most wins (2), along with Duffey. Wait… that’s not really a bright side…)

Jepson’s ERA is at 5.59, which is the highest in the bullpen for pitchers who have pitched more than 5 games. May is at a close 5.56, and Fien was at 7.90 this year for the Twins before he was booted. He also accounts for 3 of the bullpen’s 9 blown saves this year, and probably would have earned his fourth blown save last night if it weren’t for some neat defensive work and some poor base-running skills by the Mariners. Don’t lie – you were part of the collective moan when Jepson came into the game.

Nobody probably expected it this season, but Jepson needs to figure out what is going on, or hit the road. He has been a waste of $5.3 million this year. Maybe call up Chargois…

3. Trade and promote.

The Twins need to trade a couple players. I don't recall if there was any talk about trading Plouffe in the offseason, but if so, I'm bringing it back. Plouffe and Nolasco (preferred) or Ervin Santana should be traded this season for some prospects or even another bullpen arm. This way, Sano can move to third out of the outfield and allow some room for Buxton or Kepler to come up and get some more major league experience. With that, the Twins also need to promote Chargois to the majors. It may be a small sample size, but in 18 games between AA and AAA, Chargois has a 0.95 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 19 innings of work, allowing 12 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 homer, 7 walks, and 29 strikeouts. Allow some prospects some time in the major leagues.