Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Twins Best Kept Secret

As of May 20, the Minnesota Twins have played 39 games and have compiled a 22-17 record. After being picked by many to finish last in the AL Central, and even lose 90 games for a 5th straight year by some, Minnesota has done nothing but surpass expectations. Sitting third in the AL Central, the Twins offense has once again been one of the best in the big leagues (currently 6th in runs scored). While starting pitching has been better than in recent years, it is one man in the bullpen that may be one of the team's best weapons.

Signed as a free agent after a decent year in San Diego, Blaine Boyer has come into the Twins pen and been nothing short of lights out. His story has been well documented, and his journey has taken him on the path less traveled. After being out of baseball for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, he resurfaced a year ago. Recommitted to the game, and with his family in tow, Boyer appeared poise to give the game what he had left.

Pitching in Petco Park a season ago to the tune of a 3.57 last season, it was somewhat uncertain what he would provide the Twins in the American League, despite the pitcher friendly Target Field. Terry Ryan decided to hand out low risk deals to both Boyer and former teammate Tim Stauffer. While neither looked good from the get go, it has been Boyer that has excelled as the season has worn on.

Casey Fien, the Twins setup man, hit the disabled list during April and the Twins needed someone to step up. First year manager put all of his chips behind Boyer, and neither has looked back. Since April 17, Boyer has pitched 17.2 scoreless innings. He's struck out just eight batters in the timeframe, but he's given up just nine hits and only three walks as well. Boyer has held opposing hitters to a .161/.200/.232 slash line and he's generated a 69% strike rate. On the season, Boyer's 2.18 ERA is amongst the Twins brightest relief marks, and he's become an incredible asset in the bullpen.

Earlier in the season, I kicked around the idea that Ryan brought in both Stauffer and Boyer with the idea of dealing them to a contender somewhere during the middle of the season. if he could get both players to reflect value, the Twins may benefit from the return of a mid-level prospect from a club looking for bullpen help. Obviously at this point, Stauffer is closer to being sent off of the roster, than he is being added to another team's. Boyer however, has proven to be an solid asset and the Twins have turned themselves into a legitimate contender.

Coming off of four straight 90 loss seasons, there's plenty of reason to be cautiously optimistic for the Twins prospectus going forward. After all, in 2014 Minnesota looked in good position in June, and even made a free agent signing in the form of Kendrys Morales. This team however seems to be cut from a different thread, and the trajectory appears to be stable and trending upward more than it isn't. As long as things continue their current trends, Boyer should expect to be pitching for a contender in 2015, but it will be the team that signed him in the offseason, not the one he is dealt to.

No doubt there has been some misses that Terry Ryan is responsible for when it comes to pitching, considering Blaine Boyer one of them is out of the question though. Boyer has been absolutely terrific for the Twins, and the man of faith with his family by his side, doesn't appear to be letting off the throttle any time soon.