Posted by: gravessack | February 15, 2018

Closing Time!

The average high temperature is rising, and that means two things: springtime and the baseball season is right around the corner! Pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training in Florida and Arizona. Image reading "Oh Yeah: It's Competition Time"Competitions can now commence to see who makes big league clubs and who gets sent packing. The Twins six-week camp does not seem to be as thrilling, since they have all of their position players mostly solidified and fewer players are vying for spots than usual. There is a competition for the closer’s role, albeit small. The contestants are both new to the Twins, and the runner-up could be the set-up man.

Fernando Rodney, who came to the Twins in December on a one-year deal, is the clear front-runner. He has been great closing games out in his 15-year career. Pitching for eight teams, Rodney has 300 saves and a 3.73 ERA. The three-time All-Star also has 824 career strikeouts, and has given up 0.7 homers per nine innings. Rodney led the American League in games finished in both 2009 and 2014, 65 and 64 respectively. The 41-year-old also led the AL in saves with 48 during the 2014 campaign while with Seattle. Rodney will show opponents his four-seam fastball, change-up, sinker, and an occasional slider.

Trying to take the seemingly inevitable away from Rodney is former Red Sox pitcher Addison Reed, who surprised fans when he signed on for two years. It came as a shocker because the Twins told Rodney that he would close games. Whatever the case may be, Reed has been in the league for seven seasons. The Twins will be the 29-year-old’s fifth team overall and third in the AL. He comes in with 125 saves, most of them coming between 2012 and 2014. The California native has not had much success closing the past couple years, however he has been good in relief. In 2016 with the Mets, Reed pitched his way to a 4-2 record and an 1.17 ERA in 13 games. Reed’s pitching repertoire basically just consists of two pitches, a four-seam fastball and a slider.

After losing Brandon Kintzler to free agency, the Twins knew that they had to shore up their vacancy at closer. General Manager Thad Levine was right on about this situation. He brought in a veteran and a decent second hand man. The Twins may be looking at inserting Reed in the set-up role, in which Rodney would be the closer. Another strategy could be if Rodney falters, Reed could be the interim closer until Rodney relaxes and gets back to pitching the way he can. It will be interesting to see what happens with this duo. LET THE COMPETITION BEGIN!

Written by: Michael L. Sack

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