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Let’s Make a Deal: Relief Pitcher Edition

The Twins to revamp the bullpen. Enough said.

Minnesota Twins v Seattle Mariners Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Each week we ask questions of the most plugged-in Minnesota Twins fans and fans across the country.

After another series of disappointing bullpen collapses, it’s never been more apparent that the Twins need a bullpen overhaul. The guys who were supposed to be reliable end-of-game options have completely collapsed. Emilio Pagán’s favorite hobby is ruining heroic Twins comebacks, apparently. And Tyler Duffey is getting hammered every time he’s on the mound.

There’s been some bright spots as well. Jhoan Duran has been one of the most valuable relievers in baseball. Griffin Jax has been excellent in his transition to the bullpen. Caleb Thielbar looks like his old self after a rough start. Anyone outside of that group should likely be replaced at this point.

David Robertson, Chicago Cubs

After a decade of being one of the most reliable relievers in baseball and an elbow injury that kept him out for most of the last two years, David Robertson made his way back to the majors at the ripe old age of 37. He’s looked exactly like his old, dominant self since returning.

In 26 games with the Northsiders, Robertson has a 1.86 ERA/3.34 FIP, 12.1 K/9, and a career-best 0.931 WHIP. He has been one of the most valuable relievers in 2022, with 1.91 in win probability added, 7th best among major league relievers (for context: Jhoan Duran is 2nd in this stat at 2.39, Tyler Duffey is 8th worst at -1.15). Robertson’s statcast numbers look similarly dominant.

David Robertson Percentile Rankings

Every contender is going to want Robertson, but none of them are as desperate for bullpen help as Minnesota.

Michael Fulmer, Detroit Tigers

Since transitioning to the bullpen full time, Fulmer has been excellent. This season, he has a 1.91 ERA/3.09 FIP, 8.9 K/9, and a 0.953 WHIP. His walks are a bit more concerning, at 4.1 BB/9, but he’s countered that by simply never giving up hits. Batters are hitting .143 against him this year, 9th best in MLB among relievers. A glance at his advanced numbers are encouraging as well.

Michael Fulmer Percentile Rankings

The Tigers may be hesitant to trade Fulmer within their own division, but for as bad as they have been, Detroit needs to take the best deal they can get.

Lou Trivino, Oakland A’s

Let’s get the bard part out of the way first. Lou Trivino has a 7.17 ERA, 1.969 WHIP, and 13.9 hits per nine innings. It’s not ideal. However, the tough numbers are the result of a .500 batting average on balls in play, where league average is .290, and Trivino’s career number prior to this season was .280. His advanced numbers are also a bit off due to the high BABIP.

Lou Trivino Percentile Rankings

However, Trivino is due for some better luck. He has a 2.80 FIP and 13.9 K/9. His bad surface level numbers may scare some buyers away, but he’s also under team control for two more seasons beyond 2022. His price will be high, but he would immediately come in and be an ideal setup man next to Jhoan Duran.

Daniel Bard, Colorado Rockies

3rd in WPA

If David Robertson can’t be acquired, Daniel Bard may be the next best option. The grizzled veteran may be having the best year of his career at age 37, and his story is incredible. Bard was a promising, young setup man with Boston early in his career before control issues derailed his career. He was out of the majors for seven years before making his comeback with the Rockies in 2020.

Three years into his comeback, Bard has been one of the best relievers in baseball. He’s third in WPA among relievers at 2.27, right behind Jhoan Duran. He has a 2.12 ERA/3.54 FIP, 10.9 K/9, and a 0.944 WHIP. And just take a look at his advanced numbers.

Daniel Bard Percentile Rankings

He’s 37 and could drop off at any moment, but as only a half season rental, he should be relatively cheap to acquire. Daniel Bard would be a huge asset to Minnesota in the second half.

David Bednar, Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates will likely be hesitant to trade their young closer, but the Twins need to make a call about him. If you’re not familiar with him, Bednar has been one of the best relief pitchers in baseball over the last two seasons on a fledgling Pittsburgh team. This season, Bednar has a 2.50 ERA/2.49 FIP, 12.3 K/9, and a 1.000 WHIP.

David Bednar Percentile Rankings

Bednar still has three years of arbitration remaining after this season, so his price will be hefty. However, he fits the typical mold of players that the Twins like to acquire in trades. Good players who are young, underrated, and have multiple years of control remaining (see: Jake Odorizzi, Joe Ryan, Chris Paddack, Emilio Pagán... well ignore that last one).

If we’re being honest with ourselves, the Twins likely need to acquire at least two of these relievers, and another one or two other options as well. The bullpen has been the Achilles Heel on an otherwise strong, borderline elite team. But for the sake of this exercise, vote on which one elite option you would most like to acquire this summer.

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