Relief pitcher Jason Bulger has had an interesting career. The right-handed hurler has pitched in the major leagues every season since 2005, yet he has appeared in at least 20 games only twice—and at least 60 games but once.
Now that he has signed a minor league deal with the Minnesota Twins, he hopes to up that latter count to twice as well.
The 32-year-old spent 2011 in the Los Angeles Angels system, making five appearances for the big club and going 0-1 with a 0.96 ERA and an astonishing 411 ERA+. He spent most of the year with their Triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees, going 1-0 with a 4.03 ERA in 35 games.
Though brief, Bulger's stint with the Angels last year perfectly exemplifies just what has gone right—and wrong—in Bulger’s career; that is, it shows exactly what the Twins will be getting.
In 9.1 innings last year, he demonstrated his strikeout capabilities in striking out seven—in fact, in 133 career frames, he has K'ed 138 batsmen. But, he also walked 10 batters, demonstrating one of his biggest faults—he is prone to the base on balls.
Bulger doesn’t give up a lot of hits (only six last year, and 112 on his career), but he gives up his share of home runs, leading to an ERA that can swing from really low (like last year’s) to really high (like '08, when he had a 7.31 mark in 14 appearances).
In short, the former Valdosta State Blazer is not very consistent. Look, for example, at his '09 season: that year, he appeared in 64 games and posted a 3.56 ERA. During one 17-game stretch, his ERA was a mediocre 5.40—but then, during another 38-game span, his ERA was an incredible 1.86.
Despite his past inconsistencies, the righty has a reasonable shot at making the Minnesota Twins’ 25-man roster out of spring training, if he performs well.
Last year, the team’s bullpen was unimpressive, boasting only one main reliever with an ERA under 4.00. As a whole, the team finished 13th in the American League in ERA.