Minnesota Twins bullpen will be their downfall

The Twins are a team that doesn’t have many weaknesses and the win and loss columns show that this season. The Twins are on a historic run on offense and has been the primary reason they have been so good. The starting rotation also has been solid overall and Jose Berrios, as well as Jake Odorizzi, have been excellent.  However, the Minnesota Twins bullpen will be their downfall if they don’t remedy the situation.

CLEVELAND, OH – JUNE 05: Blake Parker #38 of the Minnesota Twins walks off the field during the seventh inning after gving up three runs to the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on June 05, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)

Minnesota Twins bullpen will be their downfall

Early in the season, the Twins bullpen was as good as the starting rotation but over the last 20 games, the bullpen is trending downward. There are very few options the Twins can trust, no true “fireman” in the bullpen. Ryne Harper, Trevor May and Blake Parker were all strong for the Twins early in the season but now are on a pace to rack up 10 or more meltdowns (8 is league average) per Fangraphs stats.  Eight of their 22 losses were caused by the relievers relinquishing a lead and there were eight more where the bullpen gave up the lead but the offense bailed them out.  So 16 games so far in 2019 where the bullpen had a clear meltdown.

The Twins are an injured Harper, May or Parker away from having to dip into a relatively weak reliever crop in the minor league system.

How do the Twins fix the bullpen?

The only way to improve the bullpen at this point is via trade. The Twins minor league system doesn’t have any prospects ready to help now. The good news is that the Twins have several position players in the minors that they could stand to trade.

In the outfield, the Twins have Max Kepler signed through 2025,  Byron Buxton through 2022 but will need to be extended, and Eddie Rosario signed through 2023. The outfield is locked up through at least 2023 at this time given Buxton is earning an extension the way he’s playing.  Alex Kirilloff, Tyler Lanarch, and Brent Rooker are all due to come up in the next season or two. Kirilloff should be off limits for trades but it would be worth cashing in Lanarch or Rooker for a top-flight reliever.

The Infield C.J. Cron is signed through 2021, Jonathan Schoop 2020, Jorge Polanco through 2026, and Miguel Sano through 2020. Now the infield group as a whole is less settled long term. Royce Lewis should be off-limits for trade unless it brings back a big-time player with years left on his contract. The Twins will want to hold on to as many of their infield prospects as possible but should consider trading Luis Arraez, Wander Javier or Nick Gordon if it’s necessary. Given the Twins infield has older players under shorter contracts on a whole and Polanco locking down SS for several years it will likely be a SS traded.

The Twins would be unlikely to include any of their top pitching prospects in a trade given the pitching issues on the active roster but may do so to get a starting pitcher.

Relief pitchers the Twins should be looking to trade for

Yes! I said Francisco Liriano! He has been very good out of the bullpen for the Pirates. 32 strikeouts in 31.2 innings and gave up 8 earned runs. He’s probably the least enticing of the bunch I listed here but he’s probably also going to cost the least.