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Thrylos

By the numbers: a body count of the Twins' pitching depth for 2014 and myth busting

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Originally published at The Tenth Inning Stretch
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The major priority of the Minnesota Twins' General Manager, Terry Ryan, has been to re-build a rotation that has been at the bottom of the major leagues in pretty much every statistical category in 2014. There is a general agreement that the rotation was pretty much "a mess" in 2013 and needed fixing. There is also the general impression that the Twins' pen was one of the strengths of the team and it is better left alone. However, this impression is false because in 2013 the Twins' pen ranked:

17th out of 30 MLB teams as far as ERA goes
17th out of 30 MLB teams as far as FIP goes
17th out of 30 MLB teams as far as SIERA goes
8th out of 30 MLB teams as far as WHIP goes
19th out of 30 MLB teams as far as K% goes

In other words, the Twins' pen, which compared to the Twins' rotation seemed great, when compared to the rest of the major league pens is proven to be average at best.

Busted myth number one: The Twins' pen was not great in 2013 and, while it might have been a bright point in 2013 compared to the rest of the team, it does not cut the mustard compared to the rest of league.

There is a lot of room for improvement and I suspect that Terry Ryan will address before Spring Training, since that will go a long way for the Twins to be competitive in 2014.

After the recent additions of new and returning starting pitchers there have been arguments that the Twins have too many starting pitchers and there is a logjam or pitchers on the Twins' roster.

I thought that it might be a good time to take a breath and look at what the Twins have on their 40-man roster as far as pitching goes, and see whether this argument is true or not.

Here is the Twins' 40 man roster (alphabetically) broken down in groups (players in bold are out of options):

Group A: Starting pitchers with no options signed to sizeable contracts the last 2 seasons.

Kevin Correia (RHSP)
Phil Hughes (RHSP)
Rick Nolasco (RHSP)
Mike Pelfrey (RHSP)




Group B: Relief pitchers with no options signed to sizeable contracts the last 2 seasons or offered arbitration.

Jared Burton (RHRP)
Brian Duensing (LHSP/RP)
Glen Perkins (LHRP)
Anthony Swarzak (RHSP/RP)



Group C: Starting pitchers with no options with small contacts who played in the majors for more than 3 seasons.

Sam Deduno (RHSP)
Scott Diamond (LHSP)
Vance Worley (RHSP)


Group D: Starting and relief pitchers with options with small contacts who played in the majors for at least one season.

Andrew Albers (LHSP)
Casey Fien (RHRP)
Kyle Gibson (RHSP)
Kris Johnson (LHSP)
Ryan Pressly (RHRP)
Caleb Thielbar (LHRP)
Michael Tonkin (RHRP)


Group E: Starting and relief pitchers with options with small contacts who never played in the majors.

Logan Darnell (LHSP)
Edgar Ibarra (LHRP)
Trevor May (RHSP)


Broken down this way, the perceived logjam of Twins' staring pitchers becomes pretty clear:

The Twins usually have a 12 man pitching staff. They currently have 4 starters and 4 relievers (groups A and B) who are pretty much guaranteed a job. This opens 4 more positions, one in the rotation and 3 in the pen. If you assume that the Twins value all pitchers in Group C who are out of options, they have the space to find them all a major league job, as well as allow another pitcher, likely from Group D or potentially outside the organization, to gain a rotation or bullpen position. The rest of the players will provide depth in AAA and be there in case of emergency or potentially be offered in trades to fill additional needs, like position players.

Busted myth number two: There is no pitching logjam on the Twins' roster.

In other words, the Twins do have a lot of pitching depth in their 40-man roster, but they are not in a logjam situation where they cannot accommodate all their pitchers without options on their 25-man roster. And this assumes that Samuel Deduno who is recuperating from double (labrum and rotation cuff) shoulder surgery is available to start the season, which is an extremely optimistic approach right now.

While it is too early to name names to complete the rotation and the pen, because changes will likely happen before spring training, this early clearly the Twins are not in any sort of a pitching logjam and also have plenty of options.

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Comments

  1. minn55441's Avatar
    Nice recap thrylos.

    I think the key thing, as you mentioned is that this is December. Things tend to sort themselves out by April. Injuries, performance and trades will take care of most of the current questions we have and it will seem obvious what needs to be done.
  2. Otwins's Avatar
    Thanks for the breakdown. I am glad you made the point that there is room on the staff for any pitcher that is out of options. I believe that by signing three starting pitchers they have also inproved the bullpen by increasing the competition and hopefully the new starters throw more innings. I do think some of the bullpen numbers would improve if their innings went down. I don't recall losing many games when we had a lead in the late innings. The bullpen was fine and should be better this year.
  3. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
    Great article--like the category specification--that makes the pitching roster look reasonable. If you assume that Deduno is on DL in April, then ST is a fight for 5th starter between Diamond and Worley. Loser fights with Duensing and Swarzek for 2 long spots in pen and that loser is gone. So that's 9 spots. Group D battles to fill out pen and Gibson goes to Rochester.
  4. Mayhem25's Avatar
    I would like to see some numbers on the bullpen for the final month of the regular season compared to the first 5 months or so. I would think the bullpen numbers would probably look worse because of the brutal SP leaving far too many innings for the RPs, thus the RP being worn down. How many IP did the bullpen have compared to the rest of MLB?
  5. Thrylos's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Mayhem25
    I would think the bullpen numbers would probably look worse because of the brutal SP leaving far too many innings for the RPs, thus the RP being worn down. How many IP did the bullpen have compared to the rest of MLB?
    Actually the correct measurement for that is IP/appearance because if a pen has used 10 different pitchers to pitch 400 innings would result to more tired pitchers than if used 15 different pitchers to pitch 420 innings, correct?

    As far as IP/Appearance goes, if you round down to one decimal (more decimals does not make sense), you will see that pretty much the whole league is at the same place:

    Astros 1.2
    Pirates 1.2
    Athletics 1.1
    Blue Jays 1.1
    Mariners 1.1
    Marlins 1.1
    Nationals 1.1
    Padres 1.1
    Rockies 1.1
    Royals 1.1
    Twins 1.1
    Yankees 1.1
    Angels 1.0
    Braves 1.0
    Brewers 1.0
    Cardinals 1.0
    Cubs 1.0
    Diamondbacks 1.0
    Dodgers 1.0
    Giants 1.0
    Indians 1.0
    Mets 1.0
    Philies 1.0
    Rangers 1.0
    Rays 1.0
    Reds 1.0
    Tigers 1.0
    White Sox 1.0

    I think that the difference of 0.2 innings in spread (less than a batter faced) is insignificant. There goes another myth about "tired pens..."
  6. Mayhem25's Avatar
    But more often than not, wouldn't pitchers 11-15 be of lesser quality than pitchers 1-10? Injuries obviously would dictate how many BP pitchers are used. But for example, Perkins will pitch about 65 innings no matter if the entire bullpen pitches 400 or 500 innings. So the pitchers accounting for the additional 100 IP from the bullpen are going to be of lesser quality and with it the stats will take a hit. I am not arguing that pens get tired, but more that fact that the more IP the bullpen pitches, those innings will be given to lesser RP's. I would think that some improvement from the SP (more IP) would correlate an improvement in the BP.
  7. Thrylos's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Mayhem25
    But more often than not, wouldn't pitchers 11-15 be of lesser quality than pitchers 1-10? Injuries obviously would dictate how many BP pitchers are used. But for example, Perkins will pitch about 65 innings no matter if the entire bullpen pitches 400 or 500 innings. So the pitchers accounting for the additional 100 IP from the bullpen are going to be of lesser quality and with it the stats will take a hit. I am not arguing that pens get tired, but more that fact that the more IP the bullpen pitches, those innings will be given to lesser RP's. I would think that some improvement from the SP (more IP) would correlate an improvement in the BP.
    That all depends, really. I would argue that Tonkin is probably a better pitcher than Roenicke and Pressly who were one of the original squad. Heck, Tyler Robertson made the team out of ST... The pen has a way to balance out. September in non-competing teams might be a different story, but it just balances out.
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