It's hard to be too upset at a ball club that's 20 games (40-20) over .500 and has a 9.5 game lead over the second place team in their division.
However, the Twins' bullpen has obvious cracks in the armor and although it's not time to panic, something has to be done if Minnesota wants to be taken seriously in the postseason.
For a team that's dominating record-wise, the bullpen is average at best among American League teams. Among 15 teams, it's certainly not the worst unit but it's not scaring opposing hitters either.
- 4.67 ERA (10th)
- 1.41 WHIP (10th)
- .253 Opponents batting average (11th)
It's also important to remember that the Twins aren't going to go acquire seven more arms just because the unit is average.
There's no doubt one or two additions could make life incredibly easier for everyone involved. The Twins lost out on Craig Kimbrel, so they'll have to rely on their farm system to get them out of this in more ways than one.
We've outlined before that former Twin Francisco Liriano is having a great year in the bullpen for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
- 1.29 ERA
- .186 opponents batting average
- 27.2% strikeout rate
His fastball is averaging 92.6 mph, which is right on line with his career average, and his slider is just as devastating as it was when he came up in 2006. Liriano, 35, signed a minor-league deal with the Pirates in the offseason and shouldn't cost a top-10 prospect.
Andrew Miller is another veteran arm who at one time was considered the best bullpen weapon in the league. He's 34 years old and pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals, and he's under contract through next season at $11 million.
- 3.94 ERA
- 30% strikeout rate
- .253 opponents batting average
Miller is a prime example of why ERA can be a deceptive statistic for a reliever. Miller started out slowly this season but his last 21 appearances have been much better.
- 17 innings
- 5 earned runs (2.65 ERA)
- 25 strikeouts
- 6 walks
He's not as unhittable as he was earlier this decade when he was striking out over 40 percent of the batters he faced, but at the same time, his value isn't as high as once it was.
If the Cleveland Indians are considering being sellers this summer, the Twins should inquire about Chaska native Brad Hand. He's under contract through next season at $7.5 million and is having a phenomenal year.
- 1.05 ERA
- 37.5% strikeout rate
- .149 opponents batting average
To be honest, I'm not sure why the Twins didn't go after him harder last winter when he was a free agent. He's clearly still a dominant reliever that can be used in high-leverage situations.
Cleveland might ask for a top-10 prospect back and I'm not sure the Twins would be willing to go that far but here's the beauty of where the Twins are at right now:
Since 2017, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have been criticized for trading fan favorites and notable names like Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Pressly, Eduardo Nunez, Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier, while also selling on free-agent additions like Lance Lynn and Zach Duke.
They recognized at the time that Twins' farm system wasn't deep enough. All the players they acquired aren't world beating prospects, but nonetheless, it strengthened their system as a whole.
Now they can call up one of those prospects, like Jorge Alcala (received in the Pressly trade) who's pitching well at Double-A Pensacola. Or, use him as trade bait to get someone legitimate like a Miller or Hand.
Maybe they don't need to give up a pitching prospect and could part with a hitter like Brent Rooker, who's demonstrated impressive power numbers – 46 home runs and .496 slugging percentage in 221 minor league games – since being drafted 35th overall in 2017.
The point is, the Twins have to spend to give. Falvey and Levine talked at length this past winter about waiting for their "window" to be open to contend: “The best moves are made not when you’re trying to open the window to contend, but when the window is wide open," said Levine, via the Star Tribune.
Well, the window is wide open. The division is in the gutter, the Twins are competing for the best record in the American League and they are two solid bullpen arms away from being a serious World Series contender.
Your move, fellas.