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  • Do the Twins View Swarzak as a Starter?

    Because 87 of his 92 appearances for the Twins over the last two years have come out of the bullpen, it can be easy to forget that Anthony Swarzak was exclusively a starter in the minors. A pretty good one, too.

    After being drafted in the second round out of high school, Swarzak rose quickly, reaching the majors at age 23. He has been crushed as a starter in the big leagues, but he's only made 28 career starts -- less than one full season's worth. Could it be that the Twins aren't ready to give up on him as a potential rotation option?

    Back in mid-December, Swarzak tweeted the following:

    All I can say is my arm is feeling saucy for it only being dec 17th ... Last years goal was 100 IP... This year 200 IP
    Anthony Swarzak (@ASwarzak51) December 17, 2013

    The comment didn't seem especially noteworthy at the time; like many young relievers, Swarzak would like a shot at starting and he was setting his sights high. But recently, on Sunday, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press dropped this tidbit:

    Both @ASwarzak51 and @BrianDuensing52 were told to prepare for a spring run at rotation. For AS, I'm told that's still the "hope/plan"
    Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) January 12, 2014

    The last part makes it sound like the Twins prefer Swarzak as a starter, which would be somewhat surprising since the righty thrived in a full-time relief role last season, proving invaluable as an inning-eating long man. With so many short starts, the team leaned heavily on him as Swarzak logged an MLB-high 96 innings out of the bullpen.

    Beyond the rubber-arm factor, Swarzak pitched really well in relief. He posted a 2.91 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, ranking second and third in the pen respectively, and while his K-rate was average, that puts him above the majority of Twins pitchers.

    I have long felt that Swarzak was among the team's most underrated players, and last year I would have loved to see him get a chance over the likes of Pedro Hernandez and P.J. Walters. At this point, I would still probably prefer him to Vance Worley or Andrew Albers.

    But with entrenched veterans now comprising nearly the entire rotation, and with both Scott Diamond and Samuel Deduno lacking options, Swarzak would have to be no higher than seventh in line for a rotation spot.

    That seems like an odd switch to make when last year he was one of the bullpen's most valuable assets.

    Maybe the Twins really believe he can turn a corner and distinguish himself from a sizable group of fringe starters contending for that fifth and final rotation spot. More likely, they're trying to build as much initial depth as possible (injuries can strike fast in spring training) and they feel that having him prepare as a starter will help condition his arm for a workload similar to last year.

    Clearly, Swarzak would like to start. And you can make a pretty good case that he's earned the chance. But now that the Twins have gone out and purchased some established pitching depth, he's going to face a steep uphill climb trying to prove he can help the team as much in a starting role as he can relieving.
    This article was originally published in blog: Do the Twins View Swarzak as a Starter? started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 26 Comments
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      You don't want your lefty who was your best relief pitcher in high leverage situations in 2013, be your long man, you want him to be the set up lefty. I just don't get all the non-appreciation that Duensing gets sometimes (and I am not talking about Jeremy here, just a general comment)
      I agree that Duensing is underappreciated here, but I understand why. He pitched two different seasons last year. The first saw numbers like this: 4.67 ERA, 1.67 WHIP and a 1.88 SO/BB, while the second half saw numbers like this : 3.08 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 4.33 SO/BB.

      Most fans had turned off their TV's or at least tuned out the on field product long before he became a quality reliever.
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      The Good Ship Duensing, like the Good Manship have both sailed. Duensing can be effective out of the pen, but I don't see anyway he becomes anything more than an afterthought, even for a spot start.
    1. Trevor0333's Avatar
      Trevor0333 -
      I've thought for awhile Swarzak earned another chance to start. Deduno if healthy deserves to start the year in the rotation. With how well he pitched until his shoulder flared up it would be silly to just discount him completely.

      This means moving Corriea is a real possibility come ST, also they have little to no belief in Diamond & Worley.

      Duesning does get a little more heat than he deserves, he is pretty good against lefties and can get out the occasional righty. However at 2mill a year his value is diminished. Diamond is not a good candidate to replace him but Theilbar was pretty good last year & Albers can easily be a the 2nd loogy/long relief pitcher.
    1. Trevor0333's Avatar
      Trevor0333 -
      I haven't given up on signing Garza & moving Corriea. My dream off season season scenario still is. Signing Garza & Drew while trading Corriea, Burton, May, &or both Diamond/Worley for Dominic Brown & Papelbon's contract.

      1) Garza 2) Nolasco 3) Hughes 4) Deduno 5) Gibson/Meyer

      CL) Perkins SU) Papelbon RHP) Fien, Swarzak, Tonkin LHP) Thielbar, Albers

      1) Dozier 2) Drew 3) Mauer 4) Willingham/Kubel 5) Brown 6) Arcia 7) Plouffe/Sano 8) Pinto 9) Presley/Hicks
    1. oldguy10's Avatar
      oldguy10 -
      I'd say Trevor0333's roster would have an excellent shot at another 90+ loss season.
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      Quote Originally Posted by jimbo92107 View Post
      Deduno doesn't throw enough early strikes to be a good reliever. He's either a starter here, or a starter somewhere else.
      Does it really matter with a long man coming in to eat some innings in a game thats already out of hand?
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