This is another installment in our series grading the individual performances of the key members of the 2019 Minnesota Twins. Each player will receive a classic grade on the scale of A through F, based on their hitting, fielding, and whatever else the author wants to consider. Check out our previous installments on C.J. Cron, Miguel Sanó, Max Kepler, Byron Buxton, Nelson Cruz, Marwin González, and Martin Pérez by clicking the preceding links. Today, I’ll take a look at Trevor May.
Entering the 2019 season, the Twins’ bullpen was seen as its most glaring weakness. Many projections saw the Twins’ lineup bolstered with such additions as Nelson Cruz and Marwin Gonzalez, the rotation developing an ace in Jose Berrios, and the bullpen full of question marks. While Taylor Rogers had developed into Minnesota’s top reliever in 2018, the other returning Twins had mixed results when pitching, and the only additions to the corps were free agent Blake Parker, non-roster invitee Ryne Harper, and converted starter Fernando Romero.
One of the players expected to take over a regular role if the bullpen were to succeed was Trevor May, full-time pitcher and full-time gamer, the only Twin in history to wear No. 65 on his back. Since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2018, May had become a capable option for Minnesota, posting a 3.20 ERA and 3.08 FIP in 24 games.
As the season went on, bullpen personnel were shuffled: Parker was among several pitchers released, Romero among more demoted, and several hurlers who had been considered quad-A talent (notably Tyler Duffey and Zack Littell) became key members of the relief corps. By year’s end, 31 players, including utility infielder Ehire Adrianza, had taken the mound for the Twins, none more frequently than May.
Over the course of the 2019 season, May appeared a team-leading 65 times and threw 64.1 relief innings, trailing only Rogers’ 69.0. As Rogers closed and a rotation of pitchers threw the eighth inning, trade acquisition Sergio Romo eventually settling into that role, May trotted onto the mound most often during the seventh inning. Of May’s 65 appearances, he entered in the seventh 27 times, one more than the eighth (15), ninth (10), and extras (1) combined.
Any pitcher who appears that many times in a season must be doing something right, and May’s stats back up his use. In those 64.1 innings, May gave up just 43 hits and 21 earned runs, walking 26 and striking out 79. Those numbers make for his career bests in ERA (2.94), ERA+ (156), and hits per 9 innings (6.0), while his 11.1 K/9, 1.1 HR/9, and 1.073 WHIP also stand out. May’s walks were his most prominent weakness, as his 3.6 BB/9 tied Martin Perez for worst on the team among players with at least 50 innings pitched.
Though not in a flashy role, May was regularly reliable throughout 2019. From May 24 on, his ERA never rose above 4.00; he only allowed three hits in an appearance once; and he struck out at least one batter in 51 appearances, nearly four out of every five. While his walk rate was concerning, that can be seen as no more than a minor flaw in May’s 2019 season. He’ll be expected to maintain this role in the Twins’ bullpen, now seen as a team strength, in 2020.
Overall Grade: A-
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