Friday, February 21, 2014

25-Man Roster Dissection: Brian Duensing

A bullpen can make a big impact for any baseball team. The game has evolved over time to the point where bullpens can be the difference in winning or losing a championship. It's funny then to think that bullpen's are made up of former starting pitchers who fizzled out at some point in their professional career. In baseball, it's all about extending your career at the big league level and these players know that all too well.

Last year's Twins All-Stars Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins are the only men who have a longer tenure with the Twins than Brian Duensing. These other two men have gone on to do some great things in a Twins uniform and it seems like Duensing is still trying to find his niche. 2013 was a year of changes for Duensing and the team hopes he is on a path for improvement.

2013 Recap: 3.98 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 56 SO, 22 BB (61.0 IP)
For the first time in his professional career, Duensing didn't make a start in 2013. The Twins let him get accustom to his role in the bullpen and this helped him to post an ERA of under 5.00 for the first time since 2010. As one would expect, his strikeout rate jumped from 5.7 SO/9 in 2012 to 8.3 SO/9 in 2013. Unfortunately, his walk rate was also the highest mark since his rookie season. It was nice to see the team not jerk him around between starting and relieving for an entire season. Minnesota has seen recent success in starters turned relievers with Glen Perkins being the poster child at the bullpen's back end. It would have been nice to see some better numbers from Duensing last season but this leaves him with plenty of opportunity to improve moving forward.

Forecasting 2014: 3.80 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 46 SO, 17 BB (58.0 IP)
It's an important season in the career of Brian Duensing. There were questions swirling this offseason as to whether the Twins would offer him arbitration since he is getting further along in the process. The team eventually decided to offer him arbitration and he will cost $2 million for 2014. Overall, this isn't a huge hit against the team but the Twins could probably find a replacement level player that would get paid the league minimum. The Twins are committed to Duensing for 2014 but his future in Minnesota might depend on how good he looks this year. If Scott Diamond, Vance Worley, or Sam Deduno don't make the rotation, they could join Duensing in the failed starters club out in the Twins bullpen. He will make some small improvements this year but it won't be enough for the Twins to keep him and his rising salary around for 2015.

25-Man Roster Safety: Locked-In

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