(Updated: March 13)
The Twins finished second in the AL Central for the second straight year, but they finished with a losing record (78-84). Minnesota missed the playoffs in seven of the last eight seasons. They have 15 appearances in the playoffs with three World Series titles (1924, 1987, and 1991) over the teams 118-year history.
Last year they scored 738 runs (13th), which was 77 fewer than 2017 (815). The Twins hit 116 HRs (23rd) while ranking 15th in batting average (.250). Minnesota finished 22nd in ERA (4.50).
In the offseason, the Twins signed OF Nelson Cruz and 2B Jonathan Schoop to beef up the middle of their batting order. They also claimed 1B C.J. Cron off waivers, which adds more power at a reasonable price.
1B Joe Mauer retired after the season. They lost 1B Logan Morrison, 2B Logan Forsythe, OF RobbieGrossman, SP Ervin Santana, and RP Matt Belisle to free agency. Minnesota added IF Marwin Gonzalez to improve the bench depth in 2019.
The only two additions added to the pitching side were SP Martin Perez and RP Blake Parker.
Overall, the starting lineup has enough talent to be much improved this year especially if 3B MiquelSanu and OF Byron Buxton finally live up to their expected draft value.
The starting rotation has one potential ace (Jose Berrios) with a couple of young arms with the talent to add depth in 2019. Their success will hinge on a rebound by Jake Odorizzi and a pulse by Michael Pineda.
Minnesota doesn’t have an edge arm in the bullpen leaving the late innings to some lower-tier options, leading to some crooked numbers in many games.
Polanco appeared to be a player on the rise heading into 2018, but an 80-game suspension in mid-March for performance-enhancing drugs put him on the sidelines until mid-season. The one stat that stands out on his short major league resume is his RBI rate (18 percent in his career), which shows clutch ability. Last year His K rate (18.6) took a step back from 2017 (14.3) with the same walk rate (7.5). His CTBA (.363) was the higher of his career at any level with some regression in the length of his hits (AVH – 1.483). His bat had the most value against righties (.317 with three HRs and 29 RBI over 199 at-bats) while needing a rebound vs. LH pitching (.233 BAA). After a slow start in production in July (.275 with no HRs and nine RBI over 91 at-bats). Jorge finished the year with a nice run over the last two months of the year (.294 with 24 runs, six HRs, 33 RBI, and four SBs over his last 211 at-bats). In his career in the minors and majors, Polanco has never had a HR/FB rate over 8.3. His only season with double HRs came in 2017 with the Twins when he hit a higher volume of fly balls (42.8 percent). This season he projects to be the 24th shortstop drafted with an ADP of 210 in the high-stakes market. With 550 at-bats and a top of an order opportunity, Jorge will score 80+ runs with a chance at 15+ HRs and SBs. His batting average will be an asset, but his RBI total will fall short of making an impact unless he slides down in the batting order. His game has room for growth while needing to improve his base stealer skills.
In 2019, I’m going to break up with Mr. Kepler. I’ve owned in a couple of spots in the high-stakes market over the last two seasons. He continues to fall short of expectations in batting average thanks to a weak contact batting average in the majors (2016 – .307, 2017 – .321, and 2018 – .273). Maybe I misread his minor league resume where his 2015 success in batting average (.318) was created by his outlier CTBA (.377). On the positive side last year, Max had the best approach of his career (K rate – 15.7 and walk rate (11.6) which screams top of the order opportunity. His average hit rate (1.824) was a career-best while continuing to have weakness in his RBI rate (12). Surprisingly, Kepler has most of his failure against RH pitching (.216 BAA). His bat was dead in the water on the road (.186 BAA). Despite a career high in HRs (20) and at-bats (532), Max had his lowest HR/FB rate (9.9) in the majors. His power came from a change in his swing path leading to a jump in his fly ball rate (46.2 – 36.5 in 2017 and 39.5 in 2018). I'm torn here. His base skill set (approach and swing) should produce a much higher batting average, but he needs to revert to his line drive swing and let the HRs come naturally. This season he’ll be drafted in the 17th or 18th round in the 15-team high-stakes market while offering not one category edge. With a winter to clear his head, Kepler may finally deliver on his talent. I’ll set the bar at .270 with 90+ runs, 25+ HRs, 70+ RBI, and 10+ steals as a post-hype player. The Twins need someone to grab hold of the top two spots in the batting order, and he looks poised to be one of those options.
Rosario played well in each of the last two seasons, but he fell short of his 2017 season in HRs (24), RBI (77), and SBs (8). Eddie did post the most at-bats (559) and runs (87) of his career. His K rate (17.6) continues to improve with a slight step back in his walk rate (5.1). He hit 20 of his 24 HRs against righties with almost the same success in batting average (RH – .290 and LH – .284). As good as his final stats may appear, Rosario accumulated most of his success over May and June (.350 with 44 runs, 15 HRs, 40 RBI, and four SBs over 220 at-bats). After the All-Star break, he hit only .240 with 23 runs, five HRs, 17 RBI, and tw0 SBs over 183 at-bats. Eddie was a fly ball hitter in the minors, which emerged in 2018 (44.1 percent – 37.4 in 2017), but he had regression in his HR/FB rate (12.0 – 16.4 in 2017). This season he’ll move to a more favorable part of the batting order while needing to improve in his RB rate (14). The overall lineup around him in 2019 should be better giving a chance to make another step in his runs and RBI. Possible .280 with 90+ runs, 20+ HRs, 85+ RBI, and 10+ steals. I don’t see a step to 30+ HRs.
Over the last five seasons, Cruz hit .281 with 434 runs, 203 HRs, 522 RBI, and 11 SBs over 2,867 at-bats. His AVH (1.985) was career-high last year while remaining in a tight range over the last six seasons. After posting his higher contact batting average (.418) in 2015, Nelson has seen regression in this area in each of his last three seasons leading to a bottom of .335 last year. His RBI (14) hasn’t matched the top cleanup hitters in the game in three of his last four seasons. Last year he didn’t dominate either righties (.253 with 26 HRs and 75 RBI over 376 at-bats) or lefties (.266 with 11 HRs and 22 RBI over 143 at-bats). Cruz had a low batting average in May (.225), July (.221), and September (.213) while having two strong, productive months (May – .326 with 11 HRs and 24 RBI and August – .270 with eight HRs and 19 RBI). His HR/FB rate (24.0) has been over 20.0 in each of his last six seasons. A foundation power hitter who did lose a bit of his skill set in contact in 2018. Nelson only qualifies at DH, which pushes him down a couple of rounds on draft day (ADP of 114). He has a floor of 30 HRs with some batting average risk in 2019. I expect him to posted 170 combined runs and RBI.
After his breakout season in 2017 (.293 with 32 HRs and 105 RBI), Schoop continued to show power (17 HRs over 349 at-bats) with the Orioles while coming up short in batting average (.244). Baltimore shipped him to the Brewers in July, which led to a downgrade in play (.202 with four HRs and 21 RBI over 124 at-bats). His K rate (23.0) came in close to his career average (22.6) with much more failure in Milwaukee (30.6). Jonathan continues to take a low number of walks (3.8 percent). Over the last five years, Schoop delivered an AVH rate between 1.695 and 1.791. His CTBA (.307) was much lower than his last three years in the majors (.376, .343, and .379). Jon struggled with both righties (.230 BAA) and lefties (.238 BAA) after having success in both areas in 2017 (.290 and .300). His HR/FB rate (15.9) matched his career average. The change back to the American League should help regain some of his lost value. Last year Jonathan missed a month early in the year with an oblique issue. Look for .270+ BA with 80+ runs, 25+ HR, and 80+ RBI in 2019 with a chance to offer more upside in four categories.
Cron has the best season of his major league career in 2018 while setting career highs in at-bats (501), runs (68), HRs (30), and RBI (74). Even with relatively low contract ($4.8 million due in 2019), the Rays decided to cut him after last season. The Twins quickly snapped him up with the hopes of adding more length to their starting lineup. His K rate (25.9) remains a liability while adding on some walks (6.6 percent – career high) for the fourth straight year. C.J. played well vs. LH pitching (.307 with eight HRs and 21 RBI over 150 at-bats) while coming in short in batting average against righties (.231). With full-time at-bats in April and May, Cron hit .270 with 32 runs, 12 HRs and 32 RBI over 215 at-bats. After slow June (.130 with four HRs and six RBI over 77 at-bats), the Rays platoon him over the last three months of the season (.282 with 14 HRs and 46 RBI over his last 209 at-bats). C.J. set a career high in his AVH (1.945) and his CTBA (.357). His success in home runs was driven by a career-best HR/FB rate (21.4). Over seven seasons in the minors, Cron hit .289 with 71 HRs, 328 RBI, and 15 SBs over 1,572 at-bats while having a much lower K rate (15.4). There’s a good player here with power skill set. The Twins should give him the best opportunity of his career giving Cron a chance to 80+ runs, 25+ HRs, and 80+ RBI with a rebound in batting average. Viable corner option in deep leagues with an ADP of 266 in January in the high-stakes market.
After a quiet April (.213 with five HRs and 14 RBI over 80 at-bats while whiffing 36 times), Sano missed about four weeks of the season with a hamstring injury. When he returned to the majors in late May, his swing had even more emptiness (.191 with two HRs, 13 RBI, and 30 Ks over 68 at-bats) leading to a trip back to the minors. Miguel gained some confidence in his month on the farm (.309 with four HRs and 17 RBI over 94 at-bats) while continuing to strikeout (29 times). After a recall in late July, Sano wondered his way through another poor five weeks of games (.202 with six HRs, 14 RBI, and 45 Ks over 114 at-bats). He missed almost the last four weeks of the year with a lower leg bruise. In the end, his K rate (38.5) was a career-high while inviting plenty of batting average risk. Miguel will take a walk (10.4 percent) with a huge average hit rate (2.000), which is supported by his minor and major league resumes. For him to have any pulse in batting average, Sano needs to push his CTBA well over .400 (only .351 in the majors last year - .446 in 2017). His swing path delivers fly balls (42.6 percent) with a high HR/FB rate (20.6 in 2018 and 23.8 in his career). If your shopping for low average power, Miguel fits in your lane. He has 50+ HRs upside if he ever gets 550+ at-bats in the majors. His downside in batting average can be protected somewhat with a huge rebound in his CTBA while needing to lower his K rate. Risk/reward player with an ADP of 227 in the high-stakes market.
Castro missed almost off of 2018 with a right knee injury (torn meniscus) that required surgery in mid-May. In 2017, Castro fell short of being a viable option as C2 in deep leagues (.242 with 49 runs, ten HRs, and 47 RBI over 356 at-bats). His K rate (30.2) has been a huge liability over his last four seasons, but he does take his fair share of walks (10.7 percent). Over the last five seasons in the majors, Jason only hit .218 with 47 HRs, 169 RBI, and three SBs over 1,550 at-bats. His best chance for playing time going forward will come against RH pitching (.242 in his career over 1,832 at-bats with 62 HRs and 209 RBI). His average hit rate gives him a chance at 20+ HRs, but his inability to make contact pushes his at-bats chances to a much lower level (fewer than 350 at-bats in his last three full seasons). If Castro struggles this season, he’ll have more competition for playing time. I only view him as a waiver wire option in deep leagues as a short-term injury cover.
Buxton killed Fantasy owners last year. After playing 11 games with the Twins (.195 with no HRs and two RBI over 41 at-bats), Byron landed on the DL with migraines. A week later while working out in the minors, he fouled a ball off left big toe (hairline fracture). When Buxton returned to the major for three weeks in May (.122 with no HRs and two RBI over 49 at-bats), he didn’t look healthy with his foot still bothering him. After trying to work his way back to Minnesota, Byron suffered a left wrist injury while batting in mid-July leading to more missed time in the minors. His bat started to heat up at AAA in late August (.365 over 52 at-bats with 12 runs, one HR, and seven RBI), but the Twins decided to shut him for the year to get him healthy for the 2019 season. Here’s a look at his 2018 player to profile to help give you a feel for his direction before his injury-plagued season: The Buxton skill set still has some cracks in his approach (29.4 percent K rate), but his star looks ready to shine brightly. His bat was a disaster over his first 78 games (.195 with four HRs, 14 RBI, and 14 SBs over 236 at-bats). Over this span, Byron struck out 82 times in 263 plate appearances (31.1 percent). On July 4th, his swing started to come into form. He had ten hits over his next 21 at-bats with a home run, two RBI, and two SBs, but a groin injury pushed him on the DL for 17 days. In August, Buxton hit .324 with 22 runs, eight HRs, 22 RBI, and eight SBs to help Fantasy teams make a jump in the standings. His K rate dropped to 23.3 percent for the month while only taking five walks. Byron regressed in September (.270 with 17 runs, three HRs, 13 RBI, and five SBs over 100 at-bats). He had a 32.1 percent K rate over the last four weeks of the year. Buxton had the most success against lefties (.282 with four HRs and 13 RBI over 131 at-bats). He had a more balanced swing path in 2017 with a slight bump in his HR/FB rate (14.2). In his minor league career, Byron did a much better job controlling the strike zone (K rate - 21.1 and walk rate - 10.4). With an ADP of about 50 in the early draft season, Buxton does have risk due to his high volume of Ks. His AVH (1.632) is strong enough to deliver 20+ HRs, and his speed points to 50 SBs upside if given the full green light (29-for-30 in steals in 2017). Worth his price point as long as you can cover his batting average risk. If he gets to the top of the batting order, Bryon should score over 120 runs in 550 at-bats. His aggressive style in the field does invite injuries. Difference maker skill set. In 2019, Byron has an ADP of 191 in 15-team leagues with a low of 134 and high of 270. I would be much more attracted to him this season due to his favorable price point.
Astudillo carried a light-hitting power bat (17 HRs over 1,989 at-bats) over his first eight seasons in the minors. He’s played every position in his career except pitching. A Fantasy owner won’t find a player that is tough to strikeout (3.3 percent), but he barely takes walks (3.5 percent). Over nine seasons in the minors, Williams hit .306 with 29 HRs, 291 RBI, and 40 SBs over 2,265 at-bats. Last year his power (12 HRs over 286 at-bats) emerge at AAA giving his first chance in the majors. With the Twins, he hit well (.355 over 93 at-bats) with a nice RBI rate (22) while striking out only three times. This season Astudillo will try to secure the backup catching job while his defense limits his ability to get a full-time behind the plate. Reasonable option as a C2 in deep leagues if he’s getting better than expected playing time.
After his best season in the majors, Gonzalez saw his CTBA (.333) revert to its previous form with a sharp decline in batting average and his RBI rate (15). Marwin maintained his walk rate (9.6) while matching his career high in his K rate (22.8). He had more success vs. lefties (.273 with five HRs and 29 RBI over 165 at-bats) with a big portion of his production coming in August (.303 with eight HRs and 20 RBI over 108 at-bats). His HR/FB rate (12.5) almost matched his career average (12.3), which was well below his success in 2017 (18.1). Nice fill in bat in the Fantasy market if he’s playing well. This season he’ll rotate between all the infield positions with the Twins while also seeing time in the outfield. Gonzalez has a .270/80/20/80/10 skill set if given a 550+ at-bats.
Over seven seasons in the minors, Cave hit .284 with 45 HRs, 251 RBI, and 59 SBs over 2,603 at-bats. His bat started to make an impact at AAA in 2017 (.324 with 15 HRs and 38 RBI over 278 at-bats) paving the way for his opportunity in the majors last year. In the minors, his K rate (21.4) was about league average along with his walk rate (7.7). Even success in Minnesota, Jake did have a much weaker approach (K rate - 33.0 and walk rate 5.8). His run rate (54) was phenomenal while also showing strength in his CTBA (.420), AVH (1.789), and RBI rate (16). Cave had no answer for LH pitching (.209 with three HRs, 13 RBI, and 29 Ks over 67 at-bats) while playing well vs. righties (.287 with ten HRs and 32 RBI over 216 at-bats). His growth in power in 2017 (20 HRs over 406 at-bats) and 2018 (19 HRs over 499 at-bats) gives him a much better chance of earning the fourth outfield job with the Twins. This season he'll need to clean up his strikeout to help hold his value in the majors.
Mitch Garver (C) – Garver finished with reasonable numbers (.268 with 38 runs, seven HRs, and 45 RBI) for his at-bats (302) last year, but he was a tough ride as a C2 in deep leagues. Over the first three months of the year (144 at-bats), Mitch only had two HRs and eight RBI. He helped Fantasy owners in July and August (.286 with five HRs and 28 RBI over 126 at-bats) before fading in September (.281 with no HRs and nine RBI over 32 at-bats). He did miss almost all of the last two weeks of the year with a concussion. His K rate (21.5) and walk rate (8.7) moves closer to league average. Over five seasons in the minors, Garver hit .271 with 51 HRs, 286 RBI, and 15 SBs over 1,819 at bats. His minor league resume does give him more upside in power plus his skill set looks more stable than Jason Castro. Possible C2 if he earns the starting job while playing at least four days a week.
Ehire Adrianza (IF) – Adrianza saw better than expected at-bat (335) last year after the suspension of Jorge Polanco and the trade of Eduardo Escobar. He finished with a career high in runs (42), HRs (6), RBI (39), and SBs (5) while hitting .251. This season he’ll have a weaker opportunity while competing for the utility infield job in Minnesota. His walk rate (7.1) in his career is just below the league average (8.1) with an above average K rate (18.9). His best asset in the minors was speed (115 SBs over 2,799 at-bats).
Ronald Torreyes IF) – Torreyes signed a one year deal for $800,000 in December, which puts him in line to make the majors in 2019. Over four seasons in the big leagues, Ronald hit .218 with four HRs, 56 RBI, and four SBs over 576 at-bats. His minor league resume (.296 with 22 HRs, 262 RBI, and 72 SBs over 2,412 at-bats) points to no impact value in any area if given more playing time due to an injury.
Alex Kirilloff (OF) – Kirilloff appears to be in the fast track to the majors after playing well in 2018 between A and High A (.348 with 75 runs, 20 HRs, 101 RBI, and four SBs over 512 at-bats). His K rate (15.3) was an edge with some work to do in his walk rate (6.8). The Twins selected him in the first round (15th overall) in the 2016 MLB June Amateur Draft. This season he'll start the year at AA with an expected promotion to AAA by mid-summer. Alex missed all of the 2017 season with TJ surgery in his left elbow.
Last year Berrios looked poised for a breakout season. Even with growth in his walk rate (2.9), K rate 9.5), and first pitch strike rate (64), he fell short of expectations in ERA (3.84) despite a favorable move in his WHIP (1.144). Batters only hit .222 against him with success against righties (.231 BAA) and lefties (.213 BAA). His season started with no runs allowed over 23 innings with 22 Ks in three of his first four games while struggling in his other appearance (five runs and six baserunners over 4.2 innings with seven Ks). Jose proceed to give away any gains with four straight subpar games (18 runs, 32 baserunners, and six HRs over 18.1 innings with 11 Ks). He settled down to post a 2.75 ERA over his next 75.1 innings with 82 Ks while allowing too many HRs (ten). After the All-Star break, Berrios lost his command (35 walks over 71 innings) leading to many poor showing (4.56 ERA and 1.41 WHIP). His AFB (93.2) came in close to his major league average with batters struggling to hit his four-seamer (.221 BAA). His curveball (.186 BAA) was his edge pitch while still trying to find his rhythm with his changeup (.261 BAA). Jose had seven disaster starts last year (five runs allowed or more), which needs to be cleaned to reach elite ace status. In 2019, he’ll be drafted as a backend SP2 in the high-stakes market with an ADP of 82. At the bare minimum, I expect a sub 3.25 ERA and 225 Ks with the Twins’ bullpen being the key to 15 or more wins.
It is so easy to get blinded by a player’s direction based on certain key stats while ignoring the flashing stop signs in the background. Odorizzi appeared to be on the rise after his 2015 and 2016 seasons (3.53 ERA over 357 innings with 316 Ks) while being the toughest to hit (.220 BAA) of his career in 2017 despite regression in his ERA (4.14). His three glaring negative stats were a declining first-pitch strike rate from 2014 to 2017 (61, 60, 58, and 54) with a rising walk rate (3.8 in 2017) and poor HR/FB rate (1.9 in 2017). Last year Jake repeated his failure in his walk rate (3.8) with a bump in his K rate (8.9). His lack of command led to him only pitching in the seventh inning in two games. Over his first 12 starts, Odorizzi has a 4.14 ERA while allowing 14 HRs over 63 innings. He cleaned up his longball mistakes over his last 101.1 innings (six HRs), but Jake still had a losing ERA (4.71). His step back in value came against both RH (.246 BAA) and LH (.237 BAA) batters. Jake lost some life on his fastball (91.1 mph), but batters struggle to hit his four-seamer (.203 BAA). In 2017, his slider (.094 BAA), curveball (.125 BAA, cutter (.156 BAA), and split-finger fastball (.236 BAA) were tough to hit. Every one of these pitches lost value last year. It all starts with strike one. There’s more here than meets the eye if he gets his walk rate back in a favorable area. For now, I’ll downgrade my expectations (or upgrade from his 2018 stats) for him to a 3.75 ERA with some WHIP risk. Possible rebound candidate with a free price point.
Gibson made a huge step forward in his ERA (3.62) last season after getting drilled in 2016 (5.07 ERA) and 2017 (5.07 ERA). He still allows too many HRs (1.1 per nine) while walking the most batters of his career (3.6 per nine). Kyle set a career high in his K rate (8.2) while being the toughest to hit (.241) of any season in the majors. His AFB (93.0) jumped by two mph from 2016. Batters struggled to hit his slider (.171 BAA), changeup (.155 BAA), and sinker (.246 BAA) while needing better results from his four-seamer (.355 BAA) and curveball (.302 BAA). Gibson does have risk against lefties (.270 BAA). He allowed two runs or fewer in 17 of his 32 starts while never allowing over five runs in any game. Kyle had an ERA of 3.75 or lower in every month last year except August (5.28). His minor league ERA (3.36 over 410 innings) supports his move forward last year, but his lack of command and issues with HRs will be tough to overcome in back-to-back seasons. I expect more disaster starts pushing his inning total down and his ERA up. The bidding starts with a 4.50 ERA.
Pineda had TJ surgery in 2017 leading to a missed season in the majors last year. In his four games pitched in the minors, he allowed two runs over 12 innings with three walks and nine Ks before being shut down with a torn meniscus in his right knee that required surgery. Michael has a plus minor league resume (34-17 with a 2.53 ERA and 460 Ks over 472.1 innings) while pitching well in 2011 (3.74 ERA with 173 Ks over 171 innings) with Seattle and flashing higher upside in 2014 with the Yankees (1.89 ERA over 76.1 innings with 59 Ks). Over his last 76 starts in the majors, Pineda has 4.56 ERA and 455 Ks over 432.2 innings. At age 31, he is tough to trust with a history of major injuries (shoulder, elbow, and knee). He has the ability to throw strikes, and his fastball should come in above the league average while featuring a slider with upside. Only a flier for now while expecting him to pitch his way onto Fantasy owner’s radar this spring.
Gonsalves has been impressive over his six seasons in the minors. He went 53-20 with a 2.46 ERA and 634 Ks over 599 innings. Over three seasons at AA, Stephen has a 19-4 record with a 2.23 ERA with 210 Ks over 182 innings. In 2017, he struggled in his five games at AAA (5.56 ERA and 1.544 WHIP) while being much improved at that level last year (9-3 with a 2.96 ERA and 95 Ks over 100.1 innings). Gonsalves did have regression in his walk rate (4.8) in 2018, which was the key reason he failed in his first experience in the majors (6.57 ERA and 8.0 walks per nine). As bad as he appeared in Minnesota, Stephen did look better over his last three appearances (two runs and four hits over 12.1 innings with ten Ks), but he still walked nine batters. His AFB (89.9) came in lower than expected while his curveball (.222 BAA) and slider (.227 BAA) were tough to hit. This season Gonsalves looks destined to start his way back to the majors at AAA where he needs to throw more strikes while improving the value of his changeup.
Romero missed the 2015 season with TJ surgery. Over the last six years in the minors, he went 28-22 with a 3.02 ERA and 363 Ks over 394 innings. His walk rate (2.8) was a step back at AA in 2017 (3.2) and 2018 at AAA (3.2). Last year Fernando flashed in his first four starts in the majors (1.88 ERA over 28.2 innings with 29 Ks), but the Royals drilled him for eight runs and ten baserunners over 1.2 innings in his next outing. Over his next five starts with Twins, Romero posted a 5.33 ERA and 15 Ks over 25.1 innings. His AFB (95.4) graded well while offering a slider (.255 BAA) and changeup (.385 BAA). If his third pitch doesn’t develop, Fernando may be pushed to the bullpen in 2019.
Perez has been a bad major league pitcher over his last five seasons (4.79 ERA and 1.499 WHIP) with a 32-39 record. His K rate (5.5) doesn't have a pulse with a weak walk rate (3.2). Two years ago, Martin pitched at a respectable level over his last 11 games (8-2 with a 3.71 ERA). In December of 2017, Perez had surgery to repair a broken right elbow which may have been part of the reason of his disturbing 2018 season (2-7 with 6.22 ERA). The Twins took a flier on him with the hopes of finding the missing link to his arm that was considered to have upside. For now, Perez will try his best to earn a backend rotation job where he offers no Fantasy value in any format.
Fantasy owners have anointed May the closer for 2019 after only pitching well for 25.1 innings last year. He has an ADP of 226 in early March, which is 69 spots higher than it was a month ago. Last year Trevor only walked 1.8 batters per nine setting up a jump in his K rate (12.8). His AFB (94.1) was a career-high while offering a slider (.625 BAA), curveball (.063 BAA), and changeup (.125 BAA). Trevor did serve up four HRs (1.4 per nine), which may be a red flag for the 9th inning. Over his first 102 games in the majors, while working between a starting and relieving role, May had a 5.14 ERA and 214 Ks over 203 innings. His failure over this stretch came from HRs (1.1 per nine) and a high batting average against (.277). Let’s just say I have trust issues here. I don’t trust his command long term or his durability. I’ll let him beat me in 2019.
Parker spent nine seasons at AAA (3.08 ERA, 320 Ks, and 85 SVs over 274.1 innings) before making a meaning impression in the majors. A couple of disaster outings over his first 15 games in 2017 (six runs and seven baserunners over two innings) led a questionable start (4.85 ERA) by Parker with the Angels. Over his next 37 games, he had a 1.02 ERA and 40 Ks over 35.1 innings putting close to the ninth-inning for saves. Last season Blake struggled over his first 13 games in April (4.85 ERA, .288 BAA, and three HRs over 13 innings) pushing him out of contention for saves for LA. He stabilized over the next six weeks leading to six saves with a 0.96 ERA over 18.2 innings with 25 Ks. After three poor games (five runs, eight baserunners, and three HRs over 4.1 innings with eight Ks), Blake was back in rebuild mode. He finished off the year with a 2.97 ERA, 26 Ks, and six SVs over 30.1 innings. His arm lost value against lefties (.269 with five HRs over 119 at-bats). He tends to pitch up in the strike zone (43.5 percent fly bate rate), which led to a spike in his HR/9 rate (1.6) and a career-high HR/FB rate (15.0). Parker lost 1.3 mph off his fastball with batters drilling his four-seamer (.314 BAA). He throws a split-finger fastball (.131 BAA) as his best pitch. I see way too many cracks to consider him the top closing option in Minnesota in 2019. Blake may still have the first shot by default while owning a closing resume in the minors with minimal success in the majors.
Hildenberger finally made it to the majors in 2017 after posting elite stats in the minors (1.57 ERA, 200 Ks, and 52 SVs over 171.2 innings) over four seasons. Trevor walked only 1.4 batters per nine innings in the minors with strength in his K rate (10.5). His command translated well to the majors (1.3 walks per nine) before his game fell off over the last three months in 2018. Hildenberger has a 2.06 ERA and 33 Ks over his first 39.1 innings, but he did allow five home runs. After a disaster showing on the last day of June (five runs, and eight baserunners over one-third of an innings, which included four walks), Trevor appeared to be pitching hurt or with lost confidence. Over his last 36 games, he has 8.10 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, and seven HRs allowed over 33.1 innings while converting seven of 11 saves. Hildenberger came through the minors as ground ball pitcher (58.8 percent in 2017 in the majors), but batters squared up on too many balls last year (25.2 line drive rate and 19.4 percent HR/FB rate) with regression in his GB rate (46.3). His AFB (89.6) ranks well below the major league average while offering a slider (.281 BAA), changeup (.168 BAA), and sinker (.363 BAA). I expect him to rebound this year, but he looks miles away from the 9th inning.
In 2017, Reed pitched well over 48 games for the Mets leading to a 2.57 ERA and 48 Ks over 49 innings. He converted 19 of his 21 saves chances while featuring an elite walk rate (1.1). When Addison struggled, it was due to HRs allowed (1.3 per nine). After the trade to Boston, his game took a step backward (3.33 ERA over 27 innings with 28 Ks). Last year Reed threw the ball well over his first 25 games (2.36 ERA and 27 Ks over 26.2 innings). Near the end of May, his arm started to go south leading to 7.50 ERA, .362 BAA, and eight HRs over 24 innings. He landed on the DL in July with a sore elbow. On the year, his AFB (90.9) was 1.4 mph lower than 2017 and well below his peak in 2011 (94.9). Batters had success against his slider (.283 BAA) and four-seamer (.303 BAA). Both pitches had much more value in 2016 (4S - .217 BAA and SL - .185 BAA). In his major league career, Addison has a 3.53 ERA and 125 saves giving him the best resume in Minnesota to pitch in the 9th if his arm comes back healthy this spring. His downside could be long-term elbow injury that requires surgery. Reed won’t be drafted as a closer over the winter while Fantasy owner wait for the Twins to name someone to earn saves in April.