The Minnesota Twins finished 2017 with middling veteran Matt Belisle closing games. Clearly, a closer upgrade is needed for next season, so let’s take a look at the top options!
Prior to the All-Star break, the Minnesota Twins had one of the games best closers in Brandon Kintzler. In fact, he made his first All-Star appearance putting together 24 saves in 27 opportunities with a 2.29 ERA. His work closing out games was a huge reason Minnesota stayed in the playoff hunt throughout the first half of the season.
Unfortunately, the Twins’ season started going south towards the trade deadline. Considering Kintzler was in the last year of his contract, Minnesota had to get something for the All-Star to help the team in the future. The result was a trade to the Washington Nationals for minor league pitcher Tyler Watson and cash.
Looking back, it’s easy to say that wasn’t a smart move given where the Twins ended up. But, at the time, it was hard to see a young, inexperienced team recover from the deep hole they dug themselves in. This was especially the case given the high number of teams battling for wild card spots during the last half of the season.
Luckily, veteran Matt Belisle filled in admirably in Kintzler’s absence. After a dismal first half, Belisle was spectacular following the All-Star break, featuring nine saves on 11 opportunities to go along with a 1.71 ERA. While he filled in nicely, the middling reliever isn’t necessarily the ideal closing option. Definitely, not someone who puts fear into opposing lineups late in the game as a closer should.
Although no one should be opposed to Belisle returning as a middle reliever or set-up man, the Twins know they have to upgrade at closer heading into next season. With that, let’s take a look at the top 5 closer options for the 2018 season.