Rocky Road so Far for the Minnesota Twins Pitching : Bullpen
The pride and joy of the Twins over the past several years was the Bullpen. This season saw the return of Jesse Crain, and the arrival of Brian Bass.
Brian Bass, a possible option for the rotation during spring, has been a good long reliever for the Twins this season. Even though he was involved in one of the bullpen collapses, he has been solid.
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Matt Guerrier has great stuff including a curveball that rivals Barry Zito's, but when he gets hit, he gets hit hard. Guerrier used to be a good long reliever, but his tenure in the pen has gotten him used to being more of a setup guy, lowering his stamina.
He hasn't been able to go more than a couple innings, and when he is comes in with guys on, he has a hard time holding them. Last season, he was one of the best at stranding guys on the bases.
It is still early yet, so look for Matt to bounce back and remain a vital fixture in the pen.
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Pat Neshek is a dominant setup man, that many fans believed should be the closer if Nathan were to depart. His funky delivery hides the ball very well, and confuses hitters that has never seen him before.
He has a nasty sweeping slider that he can throw for a strike in any count. He went through a dead arm period near the end of last season, which so far has carried over to this season.
He hasn't been as dominant so far allowing seven hits and and five earned in just eight innings of work.
Some sidearmers and submariners begin to get rocked after hitters figure him out, like Byung-Hyun Kim. But then again, there are some guys like Chad Bradford remain decently dominant throughout their career.
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Juan Rincon hasn't been the same since the 2006 season. He has great stuff, an electric fastball and great breaking pitches.
But ironically, ever since he was suspended for steroid accusations, his numbers and repertoire has been on a decline.
I hate to say it, but ever since Rincon has been of the juice, he hasn't been the same go-to guy that he was.
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Jesse Crain was a valuable asset in the pen in the past, but he too was one the shelf for quite a while. He has electric stuff, but needs time to return to he old form.
He was also involved in the bullpen collapse, but he definitely has the potential to be a dominant setup man, and maybe someday a closer someplace, if not with for Twins.
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Dennys Reyes was not that good of a pitcher before he became a Twin. He had mediocre seasons, but under the guidance of pitching coach Rick Anderson, he flourished his first season in Minnesota, posting a 0.89 ERA.
He dropped off a little last season, but this specialty lefty so far has shown glimpses of prior success with a spotless ERA and only allowing four base-runners.
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Joe Nathan wasn't sure whether he would stay in Minnesota this season or not, but it turns out that the contract signing has been a good choice.
So far, Nathan has been lights out not allowing any runs, six hits, and zero walks in seven innings, while picking up six saves on the way.
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The front end of the pen has been a bit shaky, but they get more and more solid toward the setup guys, and eventually Joe. These guys play a huge role. In order for the team to make the playoffs this season, the front end needs to step up their game a bit.
They have what it takes, the talent, the chemistry, the "stuff." It all just needs to come together.
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