If you don’t already know, the MLB is putting a new rule change in effect for 2020: once relievers are put into the game, they have to stay in the game until they face three batters or the inning ends. If you want to know more about this rule change, then click this link to see what MLB.com says about it.
It will obviously have a pretty big effect on how the game is managed, although some teams are less ready for the rule to come into play. How ready is the Twins’ bullpen for this new rule change? I guess its time to go through every bullpen pitcher that the team has, and how they will be affected by the change.
Let’s start with the Twins’ closer and arguably the best reliever: Taylor Rogers. The southpaw had an amazing year last season. He averaged 1.15 innings per appearance, and only pitched to less than 3 batters in an appearance 5 times out of his 60 games. Also, it won’t be hard to get Rogers to conform to this rule: he has pitched 2 or more innings in 9 of his games, and he can work out of jams himself. So if any of the Twins will have trouble with this rule change, it won’t be Rogers.
Next is a guy who started the year in the minors but got hot and finished the year as one of our best relievers. When he pitched, he was usually the first bullpen arm used, coming in immediately after the starter. Duffman averaged almost exactly 1 inning per appearance, but 9 of his 58 appearances, he pitched to less than 3 batters. Also, if I remember right, Duffey came in the game to help get us out of jams, which is often the cause of a pitcher facing only 1 or 2 batters. So, Duffey might be one of our guys that would struggle with that the most.
May’s role in the 2019 bullpen down the stretch was usually a 7th-inning option, and he usually came in the game right after Duffey. At the start of 2019 season, he was two years removed from Tommy John surgery, and had a breakout season: a 2.94 ERA was one of his stats that stood out the most. May, like Duffey, averaged almost exactly 1 inning per appearance, but he pitched to less than three batters in 8 of his 65 appearances. Also, he didn’t have much length in 2019: he pitched two innings in only 4 of his appearances (although those numbers will improve, he’s only a couple years removed from TJ surgery). Hopefully he will conform easily to the new rule.
Romo, the 11-year veteran, has had a great career so far. Just recently, the Twins re-signed him to a 1-year deal, and I am looking forward to seeing him pitch for the Twins for at least one more year. Anyway, in 2019 (Marlins and Twins included), Romo averaged about 0.9 innings per appearance, which is relatively low, but he also pitched to two batters or less in an appearance only 5 times in his 65 appearances. Those numbers are pretty good, and I saw enough good from Romo in 2019 to trust him a lot. I believe that the veteran probably will do just fine with the new rule.
Littell is one of my top favorite Twins, but I might be biased because I met him. :) He went on a tear in August and September, and his 2.68 ERA in 2019 proves that he can be a reliable member of our bullpen. He averaged about 1.25 innings per appearance, and he pitched to less than three batters only 3 times in his 29 appearances. Also, he came up as a starter, so he could pitch to three batters any day. If I am worried about anybody’s reaction to the new rule, it definitely isn’t Littell.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t know Stashak’s name: he didn’t have nearly as big of a role in 2019 as some of the guys on this list. He arrived in the majors in late July and did quite well despite his small sample size. He averaged 1.4 innings per appearance, and he went under three batters per outing only 2 times in 18 appearances. His sample size is too small to make a good prediction on his response to the new rule, but he has length, and he can probably go under 3 batters per outing if need be.
Fernando Romero/Brusdar Graterol/Whoever else
The seventh and eighth spots in the bullpen are up for grabs. Romero was originally a starter, so if he pitches, the new rule definitely won’t be an issue. Graterol still is primarily a starter, and he definitely will have the ability to pitch for 3+ batters. Another option is Ryne Harper, and he, out of anybody I mentioned, might have trouble. He had a whopping 14 outings in which he pitched to less than 3 batters. We still might sign other relievers like Dellin Betances and Will Harris, but I personally doubt it.
In conclusion, the Twins’ relievers probably won’t be affected by the new rule as much as other teams. Maybe the rule might give us an advantage.
Which Twins reliever will be the most effected by the new rule?
This poll is closed