The Minnesota Twins have made it to Fort Myers for Spring Training 2019!
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Pitchers and catchers reported on Thursday, February 14, 2019, and the Minnesota Twins have many battles to watch for in the bullpen and the fifth spot in the rotation. To me the biggest question mark in the bullpen is, who will the closer be?
Trevor May – Overall, Trevor May has very little experience as a closer in the big leagues. In fact, his only career saves came at the end of last season in which he notched three for the Twins. He had two save opportunities in each 2015 and 2016, which he didn’t convert. However, May does have some good potential as a closer and the fact the Twins used him in the role at the end of last season could have been a trial run for this year. But now that Rocco Baldelli is the manager, that may change.
Blake Parker – The only signing the Twins have made to their bullpen so far, Blake Parker. Despite Parker’s age, he has been solid in his career with a 3.29 ERA, 256 strikeouts in 224.1 innings, and a 1.16 WHIP. Parker also had 14 of his 24 career saves in 2018. So, perhaps the Twins could continue to see what he can do in that role this season.
Addison Reed – The former closer for both the New York Mets and Chicago White Sox has had plenty of success closing at the Major League level. Since taking over as the full time closer for the White Sox, he saved a total of 125 games in 157 opportunities. The Twins may be hesitant to give Reed the closer role after his second worst season of his career in terms of ERA and worst in terms of strikeouts since his rookie season. He may have to earn the trust of new manager, Baldelli.
To me those three are the most logical but one more name I am keeping my name on is Trevor Hildenberger. He was also a guy who saved games down the stretch for the Twins last season. He saved seven games in 11 opportunities. To me, he is one of the most intriguing options to be the closer because he isn’t your prototypical closer. He doesn’t throw mid-to-high 90s and throws with that submarine type delivery. However, the way he hides the ball is very effective.
No matter who wins the closer job, I expect all of these pitchers to make an impact in the Twins bullpen in 2019.
5th Starter Candidates:
Before I get in to the candidates, let me state who should be in the rotation one through four. 1. José Berrios 2. Kyle Gibson 3. Jake Odorizzi 4. Michael Pineda. The actual spot in the rotation for each of these guys could be different but I expect it to be those four and a battle for the 5th starter.
Stephen Gonsalves – The biggest problem for Stephen Gonsalves throughout his professional career has been control. If he is able to control his stuff, he will be a top three starter in the Twins rotation for years to come. He is clearly the number one choice for this spot, if he performs.
Martín Pérez – Very similar to the Aníbal Sanchez deal last year, Martín Perez comes in to 2019 Spring Training fighting for a roster spot. Throughout his career, Pérez has pitched like a number five starter and sometimes not even. Last season, in 15 starts, he had an ERA over six and a WHIP of 1.78. He did start the season on the DL so maybe he wasn’t completely healthy the entire season. However, injury issues have plagued his career. Pérez has seen the DL more than five times in his career and he’s only 27 years old. His age may also mean he still has untapped potential.
Kohl Stewart – Last season Kohl Stewart finally got his feet wet in the majors. Stewart made three starts and two of the three were very good. The start against the Yankees, as expected, was rough. However, the two starts against Detroit were very good. In those two starts, he went a total of 12 innings, allowed five hits, nor runs, three walks, and had 10 strikeouts. In his six years in the minors, Stewart had a 3.33 ERA and only allowed 24 home runs in 565 innings pitched. He should be in the conversation for the fifth spot.
Zack Littell – Despite most of his appearances being from the bullpen in 2019, Zack Littell was a starter throughout the minors. Throughout his six year Minor League career, Littell boasts a 3.36 ERA, only allowing 33 home runs, and a 1.25 WHIP. He figures to be in the mix.
Lewis Thorpe – The Minnesota Twins 2018 Minor League pitcher of the year figures to be fighting for the rotation as well. Thorpe is the third lefty of this bunch and he is as nasty as the others. He averages more than one strikeout per inning (in the minors) with 392 strikeouts in 328.1 innings. His career ERA in the minors is 3.18 and he’s only allowed 30 total homers.
Hopefully I have given you some names to keep your eyes on. If there are some names you think I missed or you think should be added, feel free to comment below or send me an e-mail at [email protected] Next week I will look at the line-up and bench.