Bolstering The Bullpen

A couple days ago, the Twins completed a trade with the Los Angeles Angels to send LHP Brian Fuentes for a player to be named later or cash. With how quickly the Twins acquired Fuentes after getting LHP Randy Flores from Colorado, it became clear that lacking Ron Mahay and Jose Mijares for the rest of the season and the next couple of weeks, respectively, would not hurt the team as much as we first thought.

While I was reading Matthew Carruth’s opinion of the Fuentes acquisition on FanGraphs, I noticed that Carruth and one or two readers weren’t too pleased with the trade. Carruth argued that while Fuentes is an improvement over Flores, he “isn’t all that very good.” With a 4.19 FIP, .250 BABIP, and a 1.16 HR/9 allowed, I can see why Carruth isn’t too high on Fuentes. However, the reason why Fuentes’ FIP is so high is because of his home runs (5 allowed), but all five have come from righthanded batters. Presumably, Fuentes will face some lefthanded batters that were originally going to go to Randy Flores, but he’s still good enough to continue facing batters from either side of the plate.

As for the dissatisfied commenter from Carruth’s article, it’s true that the Twins’ bullpen has been a strength this year, but Fuentes will help lessen the workload off Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, and Jon Rauch, much like Matt Capps did when he came over from the Nationals.* Plus, as we saw in the 1-0 win over the Mariners, Fuentes could take save opportunities where he would clearly be the better option over Capps.

* A good comparison is the White Sox bullpen. They just recently lost Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz, arguably their two best relievers, to injuries. However, they also have solid relievers in Sergio Santos and now Chris Sale, and their presence certainly lessens the losses of Thornton and Putz.

I understand that Fuentes’ BABIP is probably due for a regression (.250) and his FIP is high for a setup reliever (4.19), but we need to remember that relievers are very volatile. With only a month left in the season, Fuentes could easily keep opposing players off the bases, and the move into Target Field should help him avoid surrendering home runs at the same rate as he had with the Angels, even despite his career-low 22.2% groundball rate. Considering that this means fewer appearances for Randy Flores and Fuentes is still a good reliever, I approve of this move. I would be happy if the Twins don’t make any more acquisitions for the rest of the season, though if they were, the next move should be to improve the bench.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: