by Steven Grindstaff
The Minnesota Twins may not be a very good team, but one thing they can boast about is having a solid closer. Glen Perkins racked up 36 saves in 2013 and should be considered one of the few bright spots on a struggling Twins team. According to fangraphs, the Twins were the 5th best relief corps in the majors based on WAR at 5.5. There are not many household names among the bunch, but they seem to get the job done. As the Twins look to improve in the standings, they can feel good about what they have brewing in the pen.
Perkins has seen his strikeout rate climb in each of the past 4 seasons, topping out at 11.06 in 2013. In addition he offers superb control, walking just 2.15 per 9 innings. Another trend we spot is a decline in GB rate over the past 4 seasons from 50% to 36.2%. As a result, he’s becoming more of a fly ball pitcher and his line drive rate spiked to 26% in 2013. I’d say he was pretty fortunate to post just a .271 BABIP considering the line drive rate, so it’s worth noting, but if the stat corrects itself over time he has a career line drive rate of 20%. Overall, he should be a pretty safe bet, but expect a slight regression in BABIP and LOB rates on his way to a similar stat line in 2014.
Fein was quite the surprise in 2013, posting strong strikeout and walk rates to go with a 3.92 ERA, which is misleading considering his FIP sat at 3.16. Part of the reason for this was the unlucky 69% LOB rate, in combination with terrible luck on the long ball. He posted a bloated 1.31 HR/9 which skewed his ERA. With normalization of these rates, he looks to be a solid contributor in the late innings. Will he maintain his career best strikeout and walk rates? If so, he could be on his way to racking up quite a few holds, as well as being the possible next in line for save opportunities.
Burton was another fine contributor to the success of the Twins bullpen. He racked up 27 holds and vultured a couple saves in the process. He doesn’t offer eye opening strikeout or walk rates, but does a great job at limiting solid contact as he has a career LD rate of 16.2%. His BABIP is slightly higher than his career mark which should help bring his ERA down. Overall, he has believable peripherals and should see plenty of high leverage situations.
Sources: Fangraphs, MLBDepthCharts