Remember Caleb Thielbar, the up and coming reliever during the wretched 2013-2015 seasons? He’s back, well he’s been back, and pitching great once again. The 26 year old in 2013 pitched in 49 games for the Twins and we don’t talk about how good that season actually was. In 46.0 IP, Thielbar allowed just nine earned runs which equated to a 1.76 ERA in those 49 games. That’s insanely good and it came with a 0.83 WHIP. He was at it again in 2014, finishing with a 3.40 ERA in 54 games but then disappeared from the majors completely after six rough games in 2015.
Theilbar ended up pitching for the Twins and Padres at AAA that year, and did well down there, but never got the call back up to the majors. By the start of 2016 he was out of all MLB organizations and by the time 2019 rolled around he was a pitching coach for Augustana University. All hope seemed to be lost for his MLB pitching career, but Caleb and his wife never gave up. Patrick Reusse wrote an excellent column on his journey back to the major leagues last year. This is basically just the summed up version. Go read that!
The Twins, led by a completely uprooted front office since Thielbar was last with the team, ended up offering him a contract in December of 2019. Of course, the following season was nowhere near normal as we saw only 60 MLB games and zero minor league games. Caleb Thielbar was in the alternate site up until August 3rd, 2021 when he got the call to head up to the majors.
The following night, Caleb Thielbar threw his first MLB pitch since April 30th, 2015 and it’s been fairly smooth sailing since then. Now at 34 years old, Caleb Thielbar has been one of the only reliable relievers in the Twins bullpen.
In 45 2⁄3 innings this season, Thielbar ranks near the top in all the major statistics among Twins pitchers on the roster with at least 20 innings pitched.
- ERA: 3rd (3.74)
- FIP: 2nd (3.22)
- K/9: 2nd (11.23)
- WHIP: 3rd (1.16)
- AVG against: 1st (.222)
Thielbar has been great all season long and it’s gone largely without notice at times. That makes sense as he’s kind of just a random 34 year old reliever that shouldn’t be performing as well as he is, but he just keeps going. His story is a feel good story and a hopeful one for players who flame out of the league in their late 20s like he did.
This season should also set him up for a payday near $1 million for the first time. Throughout his five year career, Thielbar has earned roughly $1.7 million and could be in line for his highest earning single season at age 35 in 2022. The Twins have him under team control for three more seasons so I think it’s extremely likely he’ll finish out his career in Minnesota.
Overall, Thielbar has been a bright spot in a year full of dull moments. I hope he continues to prove he belongs here for a few more years to come.