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Entering the 2019 season, with the Minnesota Twins to be helmed by new manager Rocco Baldelli, fans clamored for additions to what had been a weak pitching staff in 2018.
The only addition of any monetary significance was Blake Parker, a seven-year veteran with closing experience, signed to a one-year deal.
The Twins’ bullpen eventually became a strength in 2019, but they would do so largely without, who saved 10 games but found himself in the National League by the end of July.
Parker’s first regular season appearance as a Twin, on March 30 in the season’s second game, can be considered an omen for his Minnesota tenure. After entering a 1-1 ninth-inning tie with Cleveland, Parker walked Carlos Santana with one out and promptly flung a pair of wild pitches, advancing Santana to third; Greg Allen’s fly ball would bring Santana home with what proved to be the winning run.
However, Parker would stabilize his pitching throughout the early spring. Through the end of May Parker allowed just four runs (including a complete shutout of April) on 13 hits for a 1.96 ERA.
Then things went badly.
Starting with a two-run outing on May 28, Parker allowed multiple earned runs in four of six appearances and saw his ERA inflate from 1.05 to 4.37, at which point few sat calmly upon the sight of Parker entering a game. Parker would get his ERA down to 3.25 on July 20, but saw that fly up once again in a single appearance.
On July 23, Parker entered the eighth inning against the New York Yankees with the Twins up 9-5. After a walk, two doubles, a lineout, and a third double for good measure, Parker left the mound for the last time as a Twin. The Yankees would score five runs that inning, four credited to Parker’s stat line, and won 14-12 in 10 innings. (Yep — this was the Aaron Hicks game.)
Parker was designated for assignment the next day.
In 37 games as a Twin, fifth among Minnesota pitchers for the whole season, Parker pitched 36.1 innings, recording a 4.21 ERA, 5.33 FIP, 1.376 WHIP, 34 strikeouts, one win, and two losses.
While the Philadelphia Phillies signed Parker on July 30, his performance with them doesn’t matter for the purposes of this article. (If you’re curious: 23 games, 25 innings, 5.03 ERA, 4.69 FIP, 1.000 WHIP, 31 strikeouts, two wins, one loss, no saves.) Parker’s effectiveness with the Twins dropped rapidly to the point of a DFA. Incidentally, all three of those letters are classroom grades. The last is out, and Parker’s effective April and May spare him from the second.
Overall Grade: D-
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