As spring training has been winding down, the Twins have gradually pared down their roster to the requisite 25 bodies for Opening Day. One of those cuts occurred late last week as righty reliever J.T. Chargois was optioned to Triple-A Rochester. Following the demotion of lefty Buddy Boshers yesterday, the Twins are now down to 15 pitchers in camp.
At first glance, the demotion of Chargois seems well deserved. After all, he had an 8.64 ERA in 8 1⁄3 innings, including 16 hits and two home runs allowed. But, he did strike out eight batters in those 8 1⁄3 innings, his three walks were an acceptable amount, and those 16 hits came with an ungodly and unsustainable .483 BABIP.
If we merely look at performance, Chargois was good in some areas but didn’t do enough to justify earning a roster spot. However, that also ignores what I feel is his trump card: stuff. Don’t forget that Chargois possesses a mid-90s fastball and a high-80s slider that is an excellent recipe for dominating opposing hitters. He’s been labeled a potential future closer and the righthanded relievers currently ahead of him on the depth chart don’t inspire much confidence. Matt Belisle is best suited as a middle reliever. Although I’ve been riding the Michael Tonkin train for a few years, he’s been homer-prone and hasn’t quite proven himself to be reliable yet. Brandon Kintzler is the de facto closer, but he’s miscast and really should be in middle relief as well. The only reliever that on paper should be trusted in the late innings is Ryan Pressly, as he’s gradually turned into a pretty solid pickup after being taken in the Rule 5 draft a few years ago.
Admittedly, Chargois hasn’t really proven himself either, but he has the stuff and talent that Belisle and Kintzler lack. Of course, those two aren’t actually going anywhere, but Chargois easily could have beaten out Tonkin, Justin Haley, Adalberto Mejia, and Ryan O’Rourke for a roster spot. Now, Chargois has to prove himself to make it back to the major leagues while the major league bullpen flounders as it relies on matchups instead of overpowering opposing lineups. It’s no surprise then that FanGraphs has projected the Twins to have the fourth-worst bullpen this season.
Ultimately, these complaints will be rendered moot shortly. Barring a catastrophic collapse, Chargois should find himself in the majors before the All-Star break and could easily threaten Kintzler (or Pressly) for the closer role in no time.