Do you see the similarities now in the Twins bullpen versus the dynamic trio in the Kansas City pen? I am starting to see one! The Royals have created a bullpen no team wants to face when down late, in Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and closer Greg Holland. Those three pitchers have combined for 42 saves, 163 strikeouts, and 38 runs scored against them during the last three innings this season. The Royals set-up guy, Davis, has an unheard of ERA of 0.99 for the season. Meanwhile, Manager Paul Molitor and Pitching Coach Neil Allen could form their own concoction in the backend of the bullpen.
It took a player coming back from suspension and a couple of injuries, but the Twins might have found the perfect bullpen order (barring injuries). The set-up should look like this when everyone is healthy: Glen Perkins holds the lead in the 7th, Trevor May shuts the door in the 8th, and then let Kevin Jepsen put nails and locks on the door in the 9th. Teams must have a great bullpen to compete in post-seasons, especially a one-game do-or-die Wild Card game the Twins are aiming for.
When Perkins rebounds from his various ailments, he should be the 7th inning man. After a stellar 28-save first half, Perkins has mightily struggled, racking up a total of 2 blown saves in 6 opportunities while surrendering 10 runs since July 12. Moreover, since the break, Perkins has an ERA of 6.92. However, when the Twins moved him to the 7th inning, he regained his mechanics and composure, earning 2 strike outs in his previous outings. The thing is, Perkins can’t be reliable right now in the closers spot, and the 7th inning is a good place for him when he comes back.
Ever since Ervin Santana came back from his suspension, May has been relegated to the pen. The Twins have tried May everywhere, but his final destination should be the 8th inning. May’s ground ball and strikeout ability makes him a perfect fit. When May pitches in the 8th inning, he has a 2.08 ERA with 19 strike outs and just 3 walks in thirteen innings. The Twins should be wise and keep May in that role since he is dominant in the 8th.
Jepsen, the lone Trade Deadline addition, has been dominant after his first appearance with the Twins August 2. While relieving a couple of games, Jepsen has been taking over the closer’s role for Perkins. Jepsen has been perfect closing games recently, totaling 5 saves, an 0.00 ERA, 8 strike outs, and opponents are batting .115 in the 9th inning (7.2 innings). Needless to say, if the Twins have any chance of making the playoffs, they must keep Jepsen in the closer’s role even when Perkins returns in about a week.
The Twins have won 10 out of their last 13 games basically because of relief pitching. In the end, the Twins have a chance of making the playoffs. Our bullpen isn’t as good as the Royals, but comparisons can now be made. Hopefully, the coaches see what I see in the bullpen, and make adjustments when everyone is healthy again.
Written by: Michael L. Sack