Getting To Know The 2012 Minnesota Twins – The Bench + Bullpen
Fresh off their season home opener, even though it was a lost; let's take a look at this seasons 25 man roster featuring:
Hughes will be the primary utility infielder for the Twins this year. He can play third, second and first and can provide a powerful bat off the bench or in spot starting duty for the Twins. It will be interesting to see if Hughes can carry his red-hot spring into the regular season after hitting .303 in spring training.
Burroughs was a non-roster invitee to spring training this year. After coming up with the Padres as a top prospect several years ago, Burroughs was out of baseball until last year when he finished the season for the Diamondbacks. Burroughs battled off the field issues but impressed this spring and will be a late inning pinch hitter as well as injury insurance at first and third. Burroughs showed he can still hit by hitting .333 this spring and will be a great weapon off the bench this year.
Plouffe is set to be a backup outfielder this year after experimenting at short last season. The Twins are hoping that Plouffe will be able to find a position and consistently contribute offensively just like Michael Cuddyer did until he left for Colorado this past offseason. If they can find a spot to put Plouffe’s bat consistently, losing Cuddyer is not going to hurt nearly as bad as we think it will. While Plouffe didn’t hit any homeruns this spring, he did manage to hit .279 which leaves hope that the outfield will be able to hold his bat.
Revere will be relegated to the bench for at least the beginning of the season. After being thrown into a starting role last year, Revere has shown he can stay at the Major League level. The hard thing now is going to be finding him at bats. His speed will come in handy late in games as will his defense. If the Twins fall out of contention, Revere should win back a starting job, but until then he will have to make his at bats count. Revere did that this spring by hitting .313 and playing nearly every day.
Swarzak looks to be the long man in the bullpen this year. He will be able to spot start when needed and pitch in the late innings or wherever he is needed. The nice thing about Swarzak is he seems to be the type of player that wants to take the ball every day. And with injury history all around the pitching staff the Twins will need as many of those players as they can find. Swarzak had a good spring as well, posting a 2.93 ERA.
Burton was a non-roster invitee brought in to help shore up the bullpen. Burton impressed this spring with a 1.64 ERA and ended up winning a job and will most likely pitch in the middle to late innings. He has previous major league experience with the Cincinnati Reds and will hopefully be an arm the Twins can rely on late in games.
Gray was also brought in as a non-roster invitee in what was a major bullpen overhaul. Gray has previous experience at the major league level with Oakland, the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox and the Seattle Mariners. Gray posted a 3.75 ERA this spring and will be another bullpen option in the middle innings.
Burnett was a surprise addition to the bullpen after struggling mightily this spring to the tune of a 6.97 ERA. Burnett had a miserable 2011 season for the Twins and many thought he would be sent down to work on his mechanics and get his confidence up. But since he made the team, my guess is he will be used in a few non-pressure situations to boost his confidence. But until his confidence and numbers improve, don’t expect him to pitch in a pressure situation anytime soon.
Maloney is yet another new face that will be in the Twins bullpen. He had previously pitched with the Cincinnatti Reds. Maloney dominated this spring, posting a 1.17 ERA and showing the ability to generate strikeouts in tough spots. With tough left-handed hitters on every team in the central, expect Maloney’s name to be called frequently throughout the year.
Duensing will be returning to the bullpen this season after starting all of last year. After excelling as a fill in starter the previous two seasons in the second half, Duensing seemed to run out of gas at the end of the year. Duensing does very well against left-handed batters and can pitch multiple if needed. Duensing posted a 4.09 ERA this spring and should settle in back in the bullpen where he is most comfortable.
Perkins looks to build upon his most successful season last year for the Twins. Perkins caught fire as a set up man, mowing down batters left and right and holding leads. With so many uncertainties in this year’s bullpen, Perkins is more important than ever and will be relied upon heavily in the 8th inning. Perkins posted a 4.09 ERA this spring but more importantly struck out 13 in 11 innings with only 2 walks. It should be another good year for Perkins.
Capps will serve as closer for the Twins this season. Capps struggled with an injury last year but didn’t complain and still took the ball every time he was asked. Capps struggled this spring, posting a 5.25 ERA but didn’t report any arm issues and should be ready to go when the season starts. He is another pitcher that will benefit from an improved defense and from being healthy.
Tomorrow's final Getting To Know The 2012 Minnesota Twins will feature the Starting Pitchers and Players To Watch For.