It’s no secret that the Yankees will rely heavily on the bullpen throughout the postseason. Of course, this is the direction much of the league has tilted to over recent years as a result of analytics. However, the Yankees are particularly well-suited for such a strategy: the team is loaded with top-flight relievers, as Bobby wrote about a week ago.
On the other side of this ALDS matchup, it seems that one of the common beliefs about the Twins is that its bullpen stinks. Moreover, with only José Berríos and Jake Odorizzi as the only surefire starting pitchers for this series, the prevailing thought seems to be that the Yankees’ offense will have plenty of opportunities to pound Minnesota’s relievers. But after digging into the numbers, I came away impressed by Minnesota’s bullpen. I wouldn’t take it over the Yankees’, no way, but the Twins definitely have a solid ‘pen. Take a look at where it ranked in a few key metrics:
It’s pretty definitive that Minnesota’s bullpen was in the top-third of the league, and perhaps even one of the best three or four. You may not recognize any of their relievers, but collectively, they did a really good job this season.
Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that they got better in the second half of the season. After they posted a 4.30 ERA and 4.25 FIP in the first half, Twins relievers improved to a 4.03 ERA and 3.56 FIP the rest of the season. That came as somewhat of a surprise, especially considering their underwhelming trade deadline activity. Sergio Romo has been solid since acquisition, but Sam Dyson was a disaster.
Aside from Romo, Taylor Rogers may be the one guy you have heard of in Minnesota’s bullpen. Rogers, a lefty, has been on of the sport’s best relievers since last season without anyone really noticing. He’s the Twins’ closer and we will likely see a lot of him.
Below are some key stats for Twins relievers who are most likely to be on the ALDS roster:
It’s difficult to imagine Minneosta carrying all eleven of these guys, but they certainly have enough depth to alleviate the burden on its starters. May and Duffey figure to get the bulk of work as a bridge to Rogers, but there are some other interesting arms on this list. In particular: 21 year-old Brusdar Graterol. He’s one of baseball’s top prospects and features a blazing sinker that averages 99 on the gun. He’s been raised a starter, so he figures to be a multi-inning option for Rocco Baldelli.
Prior to each game, Steven will take a closer look at Berríos, Odorizzi, and whoever the Twins start in game 3. Briefly though, Berríos is the one guy the Twins may be more lenient with going deeper into games. After that, expect to see a parade of Twins relievers. It’s a sneaky-good bullpen that will be integral to Minnesota’s success.
Now, as unexpectedly solid as the Twins’ relievers are, it’s not like the Yankees are helpless against them. Quite the contrary, of course. Minnesota will have its hands full with the Yankees lineup. And, with even fewer starting pitcher options than the Yankees, one big concern for Baldelli has to be workload. The Bronx Bombers may be able to win simply by war of attrition, because again, aside from Berríos, Minnesota will need a ton of innings from relievers. Likely even more than the Yankees bullpen.
So, like the Yankees, the Twins are set up for bullpening throughout this series. Of course, the Yankees still have the edge here if score is close or even late in the game, but the Twins are no slouches either. They’re capable of putting up zeroes too, but they’re at risk of wearing down because of the Twins’ thin rotation.