Minnesota Twins: Top 5 closer options for next season

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 18: Brandon Kintzler
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 18: Brandon Kintzler /
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NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 03: Alan Busenitz
NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 03: Alan Busenitz /

5. Alan Busenitz

Let’s state this right away: Busenitz has a very, very slim chance at becoming the Twins closer. Nevertheless, he proved to be a reliable arm who could come in during late stages of a game.

In 2017, he pitched 31.2 innings in 28 games for a 1-1 record and 1.99 ERA. Most impressively, he had a WHIP of 0.98, meaning he allowed less than one walk and hit combined per inning pitched. Granted, he didn’t play the whole season, but elite closers tend to have WHIPs below 1.00.

Overall, if the 27-year old can sustain his 2017 success, he could find himself as a legitimate closing option for the Twins. Not to mention, the right-hander relies on a high velocity fastball and 12-6 curveball, making him an even more intriguing possibility. Although, he could work on developing and using his changeup and slider more often in order to keep hitters off-balance.

Probability of being Twins closer? 1%

4. Trevor Hildenberger

Out of all the in-house options, Hildenberger has the best chance to claim the closer role in 2017. Like Busenitz, the 26-year old was counted on plenty once he made his way into the bullpen halfway through the year. In 37 games, the right-hander pitched 42 innings with a 3-3 record, 3.21 ERA and 12 holds. In the end, he became the most reliable set-up man for Belisle.

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While he doesn’t have quite the high velocity stuff that Busenitz has, Hildenberger struck out batters at a higher rate with 44 Ks in 42 innings compared to Busenitz’s 23 in 31.2 innings. The main reason for the sidewinder’s high strikeout rate is that he has a killer changeup that dives out of the zone with ease. Yet, batters struggle laying off the pitch either swinging through it or pounding it into the ground.

Along with the changeup, Hildenberger relies on a fourseam fastball, sinker and slider. Although the changeup is his bread and butter, he has the confidence to throw all of his pitches. Unless your Aroldis Chapman throwing 100-plus mph fastballs, a successful closer rarely gets away with sticking to one or two pitches. So, Hildenberger’s ability to mix up his pitches is an encouraging sign from the promising reliever.

While he’s another intriguing closer option, I see the Twins looking outside of the organization for a closer. If so, Minnesota could look at a temporary closing option with Hildenberger and Busenitz possibly taken over after another season or two with the Twins.

Probability of being Twins closer? 20%