Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bullpen Competition

The Twins bullpen was one of its strengths last year. But its not clear that will carry over into 2013. Glen Perkins is now set as closer with Jarad Burton as his primary setup guy. Brian Duensing may get a chance at the starting rotation again, but he was tagged as the primary lefty at the end of the game. The addition of Rafael Perez probably makes both of those less likely. Duensing may end up joining Alex Burnett as a middle inning guy. Swarzak may move into that role as well after being the long guy last year. That will depend on what happens once his ribs recover, but its unlikely he is going to get stretched out much before opening day.

If those six guys all end up healthy and in the bullpen, there is likely only one opening. Robertson, Pressly and Fien are on the major league roster. The rest of the candidates are on minor league contracts.

Roenicke, Wood, Robertson, Pressly and Fien are the bullpen candidates on the major league roster. The rest are on minor league contracts.

Robertson is great against lefties, but has struggled against right handed pitching. With three lefties already in the bullpen, he is likely to end up back at AAA, assuming he still has options.

Pressly is a rule 5 guy and will be given every chance to take the last spot. But he has no major league experience and was taken in the Rule 5 draft on the strength of his performance as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League. He will have to impress people this spring to win a job.

Of the other three on the roster,  Roenicke has the most major league experience, but still has only 127 major league appearances. Along with Wood and Fien he will need to beat out the guys signed to minor league contracts.

Harden is an intriguing possibility. He has been dominant as a starter when he stayed healthy. I am sure the Twins would prefer that he take a spot in the rotation, but there is a lot of talk that it might be easier to keep him healthy in the bullpen. If he is healthy and ready to pitch, he would be the favorite for the last bullpen spot if that is where he ends up.

Perdomo, Slama and Augenstein are all guys with minor league success that has not translated to the major leagues. Perdomo's problem has been that he walks too many people, something he showed again in his brief stint with the Twins last year. The Twins seem to be doubtful about Slama's ability to translate his success with minor league hitters to the major league level.  He has a funky delivery that throws minor league players off but major league players may be able to adjust to. Augenstein is the youngest of the three. He mostly started in the minor leagues, but had some success last year after moving to the bullpen.

Martis, Walters and Vasquez are probably destined for AAA, but they might get a chance to take a bullpen spot if they impress in camp. Martis is going to gone from camp for a while pitching in the World Classic so he isn't going to get much opportunity for the Twins manager and coaches to notice him.

Here is the way things look starting out:

Perkins
Burton
Duensing (S)
Burnett
Swarzak (DL)
Perez (S)

Wood
Roenicke
Pressly 
Robertson
Fien
Harden (S)

Augenstein
Perdomo
Slama

Martis (S)
Walters (S)
Vasquez (S)

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