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Twinkie Town Staff Roundtable: Reliever Edition

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The staff tell us which relievers the Twins should target in free agency

Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins

Despite baseball’s virtual winter meetings taking place earlier this week, it was another relatively slow week on the hot stove.

Today, the Twinkie Town staff have turned their attention to the bullpen where the Minnesota decision makers have some roster spots to fill. The ‘pen was a strength of the 2020 Twins and the team’s relievers tied for the major league lead in Fangraphs version of WAR (3.6). Twins relievers finished sixth in ERA (3.62) and fifth in FIP (3.85) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.36). But 2021 is sure to bring some new faces, with Trevor May now with the Mets and Matt Wisler with the Giants on free agent deals. Bearded slider-slinger Sergio Romo remains a free agent along with bespectacled changeup artist Tyler Clippard. It’s possible one or both could return and join Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Caleb Thielbar, Cody Stashak, and Jorge Alcala in the Twins bullpen again in 2021.

The Twins have other options to consider for fortifying the bullpen, as well. The decisions made at the non-tender deadline filled the free agent market with plenty of interesting and useful relievers, many of whom have had success in recent seasons. With that in mind, we asked the Twinkie Town staff to offer their ideas for relievers for the Twins to target. This week’s roundtable question was:

“Which relief pitcher(s) do you think the Twins should target in free agency, and why?”

DJL44

I would target Archie Bradley. He’s been very good for four straight seasons and is one of the youngest relief pitchers on the market. He’s one of the few worth a 3 year contract. A RH pitcher with a plus fastball and curveball combination would be a new look out of the bullpen too.

James Fillmore

As always, no brilliant ideas for the future. My crystal ball on baseball predictions went into the shop 20 years ago and I still haven’t gotten it back. That’s why I put Vegas odds at the top of every gamethread. Let the serious gamblers predict such things, not me, I’m usually wrong.

Nobody will believe this, but I started the “Ed-die” crowd chant for Guardado. Opening Day, 2002. Ninth inning. I start yelling “Ed-die!” clap-clap-clap, “Ed-die,” clap-clap-clap. The row, then the section, then the building went along. You could do that in the Metrodome if you knew how to project your voice, and I do. (It’s a useful city life skill for repelling muggers. You turn around to the spooky guy following you in the alley, shout “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT” in the Loud Voice, they will bolt.)

Subsequent fans doing the “Ed-die” chant didn’t include the clap-clap-clap, which I was disappointed by. The clap-clap-clap is what makes it, you gotta give a crowd some timing and rhythm, or else it’s garbled yelling. Every stadium in America plays the opening riff to “Blister In The Sun,” and people go clap-clap, clap-clap. I’ll bet most don’t know the song (it’s not appropriate for children). But everybody does the clap-clap, clap-clap. Folks, this is how you start a stadium chant.

Zach Koenig

When it comes to free agent relievers, I’m all in on the “bringing the band back together” solution. First, the Twins reunite with Liam Hendriks and Brandon Kintzler—two solid arms that could legitimately help out in the ‘pen. Then, the team at very least invites Brian Duensing and Pat Neshek (both last seen in 2019) to Spring Training. Inevitably, this would somehow lead to Duensing starting a playoff game at Yankee Stadium.

Matt Monitto

Clippard and I haven’t got a clue who else. Give Alcala more higher-leverage chances also.

Jon Gamble

I believe the Twins should target Kirby Yates, Archie Bradley, and Tyler Clippard to bolster the bullpen. However, Yates might run a little pricey for the Twins, while Bradley should be affordable and Clippard cheap.

TJ Gorsegner

Uhm, I don’t really know. I like the idea of Tyler Clippard coming back, us Tylers need to stick together. I’m pretty sure there are a few “bigger” names for the Twins to sign that aren’t that top-tier crazy price, and they probably will add one or two of those. They’ll also probably grab an option or two from the clearance rack. I’d like to see them give Blaine Hardy another shot. He’s coming off surgery that makes him someone you can’t count on, but why not?

Brandon Brooks

Will the Twins go for one of the big names on the market? I don’t think so. The most recent example being Matt Wisler, it seems that the Falvine era is content with high bullpen turnover, as they avoid keeping anybody around for too long for fear that they get figured out — and stay away from long-term guarantees for the most volatile position in the game. Recent successes have included veteran arms with a good breaking pitch; so could Greg Holland be a fit? The longtime Royals closer had a bit of a renaissance with his old team last season, turning the slider into his primary weapon and having one of his best years. It certainly sounds like the kind of approach that’s been encouraged by Minnesota’s pitching development — that slider generated 23 strikeouts and no homers in 2020. Perhaps the Twins could take the $5MM they saved on Romo and use it for a one-year Holland contract.

John Foley

Bringing back Tyler Clippard is a no-brainer to me. Clippard was exactly what the Twins expected in 2020, throwing in 26 games and putting together a 2.77 ERA and 2.65 FIP with a strikeout per inning. Despite being right-handed, Clippard’s calling card is making life very difficult on left-handed batters with his changeups and splitters. He continued that last year in allowing lefties just a .245 OBP and .216 wOBA, and would bring a needed weapon for a right-handed heavy reliever group in 2021. I’m also interested in right-handed slider-slinger Darren O’Day. O’Day was as dominant as ever in 2020, with a 1.10 ERA, 2.76 FIP, and more than 12 strikeouts per nine innings. Of course, with his arm slot and slider, O’Day should be limited to facing only right-handed batters, whom he held to a .208 OBP and .197 wOBA in 2020. In the interesting flier category, I’d take a look at former Cub Carl Edwards, Jr.

Imakesandwichesforaliving

I’m not sure why there isn’t any major talk of getting Tyler Clippard back into the bullpen for 2021. He was one of the best in the Twins ‘pen in 2020. Maybe his age is preventing all the talk? Maybe I don’t know anything? It’s a possibility. I would roll the dice on him, personally.


Results:

Tyler Clippard - 5 votes

Archie Bradley - 2 votes

Liam Hendriks - 1 vote

Brandon Kintzler - 1 vote

Brian Duensing - 1 vote

Pat Neshek - 1 vote

Blaine Hardy - 1 vote

Kirby Yates - 1 vote

Greg Holland - 1 vote

Darren O’Day - 1 vote

Carl Edwards, Jr. - 1 vote

Community Discussion

With that, now it’s your turn Twinkie Town. Let us know in the comments, “Which relief pitcher(s) do you think the Twins should target in free agency, and why?”