• Bullpen Evaluations

    The Twins have been taxing their bullpen lately and are amidst a stretch of 20 games without a day off, so it makes sense that they decided to send down Matt Carson who became the fifth outfielder after Denard Span returned Thursday in exchange for relief help.

    The pitcher they called upon is Kyle Waldrop. This is his second time getting the nod this year, and he only missed a spot on the Opening Day roster because of an injury. It seems clear that the Twins are very high on him, but it's not very clear why.
    Standing 6'5", Waldrop gets a nice downward plane on his pitches and induces a lot of ground balls. In that sense, he's got some potential. At the same time, he doesn't miss any bats. For his career in the minors, Waldrop has averaged 5.7 K/9; for comparison, Nick Blackburn posted a 5.5 mark in his minor-league career.

    It's certainly possible for a reliever with a substandard strikeout rate to be effective if he limits walks and keeps the ball down, but Waldrop's K-rate is beyond substandard. Given that he's averaged 5.7 whiffs per nine innings (including 5.2 above Single-A) there's a good chance he'll rank among the most contact-heavy relief pitchers in the majors.

    Currently only two MLB relievers have a K/9 mark below 5.0 two of them are on the Twins (Alex Burnett and Jeff Gray). Do they really intend to move forward with a bullpen filled with guys that can't come in and get a strikeout?

    At this point, the Twins' sole focus should be evaluating players for next year and beyond. In order to give Waldrop another look, they bypassed players like Anthony Slama who is healthy again and back to putting up cartoonish numbers in Triple-A and Deolis Guerra, who will be out of options next year. Guerra has a bloated ERA in Rochester right now thanks to a home run spike, but his 50-to-21 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 51 innings is far superior to Waldrop's horrible 16-to-13 in 39 innings. Given his previous ranking as a top prospect and his general success since converting to relief duties, you'd have to think that Guerra is more likely to be a long-term bullpen asset than Waldrop.

    Speaking of long-term bullpen assets, Gray very obviously is not one. Why is he still on the roster and holding some of these other guys back? Not only has he been one of the least effective relief pitchers in the game this year, he's 30 with a terrible track record and virtually no upside. His future with the organization won't last past this year (you'd hope) so why do the Twins continue to give him innings while missing an opportunity to work with younger arms that they need to make decisions on, such as Guerra and Slama?

    It's been one of the most befuddling aspects of this season, but hopefully it will cease to be an issue when rosters expand in a week.
    This article was originally published in blog: Bullpen Evalutaions started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 18 Comments
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      For whatever reason Slama does not seem to be in the Twins plans. Many of these type pitchers need to be looked at the fall to see if they should even be offered contracts for next year. Guerra will be looked at in spring training when several of these pitchers(I hope) will not be here.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Guerra needs to be looked at a little bit this fall, before he's off to the out-of-country winter leagues. Slama needs to appears in a dozen of the Twins final games, be it setup, long relief or even closing. Give the guy a chance. If he is a gem, you got a five-year cheap gem.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      The problem is, if they're looking at Guerra in Rochester, he's been pretty terrible. He's got a great changeup, but when your fastball is just 88/89 mph, AAA hitters will start sitting on the changeup... like big leaguers will. But, he is just 23, and I would rather him eat innings at this point than Gray. I think Waldrop is a guy the Twins should be evaluating based on his GB rate.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Guerra is already on the 40 man. Gray won't be around next year, so in my opinion you just DFA Gray and give Slama a 1 month try... cannot hurt.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Slama would have been here 2 months ago if TR thought he could help the club. For whatever reason the Twins brass do not view Slama as a major league pitcher. We will have to live with it. If he does wonderful with another orgainization, then the Slama backers can say 'told you so'.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      The problem is, if they're looking at Guerra in Rochester, he's been pretty terrible. He's got a great changeup, but when your fastball is just 88/89 mph, AAA hitters will start sitting on the changeup... like big leaguers will. But, he is just 23, and I would rather him eat innings at this point than Gray. I think Waldrop is a guy the Twins should be evaluating based on his GB rate.
      Baseball America reported that Guerra was 92-94 after his bullpen move last yr. Why do you think its been such a drastic drop in velocity??
      Waldrop does have an incredible groundball rate, which at least gives him something Burnett/Gray dont posess, if your infield can make the plays
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      The problem is, if they're looking at Guerra in Rochester, he's been pretty terrible. He's got a great changeup, but when your fastball is just 88/89 mph.
      I swear I saw Guerra hit 93-94 in ST. On the side fields with the team gun the off duty guys were charting pitches with. I am pretty sure that those were 4-seamers. His 2-seames is high 80s. He just got to mix them up a bit more. Does not hurt to throw a 4-seamer once a while or to dial it up for a pitch or 2. I dislike the guy, but Oswalt in last night's game (whose FB is "sitting at 90-91") got that speed variation from 88-95 (that was one pitch), changed locations (and not necessarily in the zone) and gave a clinic on how to get by with limited stuff.

      Just got to ingrain into these kids that it is ok to throw a ball once in a while (matter of fact it is good sometimes) and to change speeds and locations. And a lot of those things are acquired knowledge...
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Waldrop may replace Burnett next year, same type of pitcher but cheaper. Burnett's numbers are telling me he is making it on smoke and mirrors this year. Could be trade bait if someone wants a cheap reliever with good numbers and does not look at the rest of his line.
      Locks:
      Perkins
      Burdon
      Fien
      Duensing

      Possibiltes
      Robertson
      Burnett
      Waltrop
      Swarzak
      Guerra
      other FA's signed this offseason

      Remote but possilbe
      Thielbar
      couple of other independent league signees

      Gone:
      Grey
      Slama
      Manship
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      It is flat-out ridiculous to use Jeff Gray instead of Anthony Slama. I have to imagine Guerra is going to get a look in September as well.

      Burnett, Waldrop, and Gray should make for some 5+ run innings.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I also do not understand their thinking in not using Slama, and using Gray. This year should be about next year, right now. I'm baffled, frankly.
    1. joeboo_22's Avatar
      joeboo_22 -
      The thing with Waldrop is you know what you got, a guy who is going to throw strikes, induce groundballs and all that. Which if the Twins were in contention and needed a guy to eat up some innings for a 2 week stretch I'd be fine with, but the Twins are not. They need to figure somethings out, so I'm more in the line of giving some looks at what you have.

      Caleb Thielbar- a lefty, drafted in the 18th round out of South Daktoa St. to the Brewers, who had strugged and ended up pitching for thte Saints last year, who has in his own words fixed some mechanical issues and risen quite fast in the Twins system this year. He throws a sneaky fast, fastball, a slow curve and a cutter. Is he going to get outs in the majors? IDK, but why not find out. Plus he is a home state kid, and would be the first South Dakota St. baseball player to play in the major leagues.

      Deolis Guerra- this is a guy who was suppose to be the guy of the Johan trade, well no one else worked out, Guerra has been hit and miss while in the minors for the Twins, having good stretches and very bad stretches. Will he get outs? again I don't have a clue, but why not give him a chance.

      Anthony Slama- Now I'm not as big on Slama as others, I don't think his game will transfer to the majors like some do and I think he will be a comparable major leaguer to Burnett in the bullpen. However do I know? heck no, so why not give him a chance.

      I guess the biggest problem I have with the Twins system is they allow guys that are not very good and have little upside sit in their bullpen but won't even look outside the box at AAA to see what is available.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by joeboo_22 View Post
      Anthony Slama- Now I'm not as big on Slama as others, I don't think his game will transfer to the majors like some do and I think he will be a comparable major leaguer to Burnett in the bullpen. However do I know? heck no, so why not give him a chance.
      Burnett had around an 8 k/9 ratio in AAA with a WHIP of 1.7.

      Slama has around a 10.8 k/9 ratio in AAA and a WHIP of 1.15, including a ridiculous 15.1 k/9 this season. They're very different pitchers.

      I'm not saying Slama is the answer but Burnett is not a good comp.
    1. Jack Torse's Avatar
      Jack Torse -
      Here were my comments several days ago when I read something about Deduno ----- "Even after completely and utterly dominating minor league baseball for four years, the controll artist by comparision anthony slama never got much of a chance because they said he walked too many. I realize he's been injured and is a reliever but impossible not to come to mind when the topic of BB comes up."

      This is 2 different GM's he's played under so it's Gardy who's likely to be keeping him down there. Irrespective I understand if a club doesn't like a guy but have a heart and let him move on to another team. That's the most maddening thing about it. It's worse than Bernardo Brito.
    1. NoCal's Avatar
      NoCal -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jack Torse View Post
      Here were my comments several days ago when I read something about Deduno ----- "Even after completely and utterly dominating minor league baseball for four years, the controll artist by comparision anthony slama never got much of a chance because they said he walked too many. I realize he's been injured and is a reliever but impossible not to come to mind when the topic of BB comes up."

      This is 2 different GM's he's played under so it's Gardy who's likely to be keeping him down there. Irrespective I understand if a club doesn't like a guy but have a heart and let him move on to another team. That's the most maddening thing about it. It's worse than Bernardo Brito.
      Slama was not on the 40 man roster over the Winter, and any team in baseball could have selected him in the Rule 5 draw. And they didn't. I would think that the A's would have bit, at least.
    1. SeanS7921's Avatar
      SeanS7921 -
      I think you see Kyle Gibson in the bullpen next year. Get 30 innings or so and then maybe 10 starts to get around 90-100 innings along with Perkins, Burton, Duensing, Fien, Oliveros & Guerra. Id like to see Slama hopefully he is called up but I dont think he is on the 40 man roster. Hopefully, they give him a spot on it. I'd like to see him in the mix next year. The Twins bullpen should be pretty effective. It's been about average this year to above average. 3.80 ERA and totally overworked compared to other pens obviously. My hope is they didn't call up Slama at this point and Waldrop got the nod was like Parmelee (besides playing time) Slama is valuable for a Red Wing playoff push. They have some bad teams there and they want to have a good year.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by beckmt View Post
      For whatever reason the Twins brass do not view Slama as a major league pitcher.
      Yet, for some unknown ridiculous reason, they view Gray as one.
    1. joeboo_22's Avatar
      joeboo_22 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by joeboo_22 View Post
      Anthony Slama- Now I'm not as big on Slama as others, I don't think his game will transfer to the majors like some do and I think he will be a comparable major leaguer to Burnett in the bullpen. However do I know? heck no, so why not give him a chance.
      Burnett had around an 8 k/9 ratio in AAA with a WHIP of 1.7.

      Slama has around a 10.8 k/9 ratio in AAA and a WHIP of 1.15, including a ridiculous 15.1 k/9 this season. They're very different pitchers.

      I'm not saying Slama is the answer but Burnett is not a good comp.
      And I understand that, its just my opinion that they will be similar type of numbers in the majors. I just remember when everyone thought Slama would make the roster a few years ago and Burnett surprised everyone by getting the nod over him.

      I just don't know if he has the upside some think he does, but I agree why not give him a shot.
    1. Kneelb4zerg's Avatar
      Kneelb4zerg -
      Quote Originally Posted by beckmt View Post
      Slama would have been here 2 months ago if TR thought he could help the club. For whatever reason the Twins brass do not view Slama as a major league pitcher. We will have to live with it. If he does wonderful with another orgainization, then the Slama backers can say 'told you so'.
      Slama was hurt two months ago.
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