Twins will nominate Tyler Duffey for assignment

The Twins named a right-handed reliever Tyler Duffey for assignment, as Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune first reported (Twitter link). right-handed Cole Sands is recalled from Triple-A St. Paul to take Duffey’s place on the roster (and, apparently, in the bullpen for now). Minnesota has yet to officially announce the move.

Duffey, a fifth-round pick by the Twins in 2012, had a checkered career at Minnesota. Debuting as a starter in 2015, he quickly looked like he could hold onto that role for the foreseeable future, hitting a 3.10 ERA with solid strikeout and walk rates as a rookie that year. However, Duffey was beaten for a horrible 6.33 ERA in 133 innings the following year and moved to the bullpen in 2017.

It took a while, but by the 2019 season, Duffey had become an indispensable member of the Twins’ bullpen. He recorded 57 2/3 innings on the ball ERA 2.50 and hit 34.5% of his opponents against a 5.9% walk rate that season. From July 28 to September 25, 2019, Duffey went 26 consecutive appearances without allowing a run – a total of 23 2/3 innings in which he posted a scintillating 40 to 5 K/BB ratio. He followed that year with an even better performance in the shortened 2020 season (1.88 ERA in 24 innings), and although his numbers fell back in 2021, they were still quite solid (3.18 ERA, 3 .49 FIP in 62 1/3 innings).

In total, from 2019-2021, Duffey recorded 144 innings with a 2.69 ERA (3.16 FIP), 29.8% strikeout rate, 8.2% walk rate and a 44.4% ground ball rate. Overall, he was an effective late-inning reliever that the Twins relied on regularly.

This season, however, has been a whole different story. Duffey has a 4.91 ERA and has already hit eight homers in just 44 innings of work (1.64 HR/9). The fastball who averaged 94 mph in 2019 is now averaging 92.3 mph, and he has seen his strikeout rate drop to 21.1% while his 8.1% walk rate is higher by more than two percentage points from where it was at that 2019 peak.

Just like he did in 2019, Duffey had an impressive run this summer when he went 15 2/3 shutout innings with a 12-3 K/BB ratio from June 17 to July 23, but that streak hot was booked by nightmarish bouts of home runs resulted in leverage. Duffey has driven in multiple runs in 20% of his appearances this season (eight of 40), including five different outings where he was scored for three runs. Since that promising streak from mid-June to late July, Duffey had seven runs on six hits (two homers) and four walks with three strikeouts in a total of 4 1/3 innings.

Minnesota’s bullpen has been the team’s biggest flaw this season, and Duffey’s wild inconsistency played a big part in that Achilles’ heel. He earns $3.8 million in his final club vetting season before free agency, meaning any club that claimed him — he can’t be traded now that the deadline has passed — would be responsible for the remaining $1.28 million on this year’s salary. Because of this, he is unlikely to be claimed, and even if the Twins attempt to move him to Triple-A St. Paul, he may reject the assignment and retain rights to that salary, as well as his right as a player with five years. -plus years of MLB service time.

As for the 25-year-old Sands, he was rocked for 16 runs in 16 1/3 Major League innings in this season’s debut, but he has a better record in the minor leagues. Like Duffey, he is a former fifth-round pick (Florida State University, 2018) with a history of strong minor league performances. While it’s true that Sands has been hit hard in St. Paul this season (5.59 ERA in 48 1/3 frames), he posted a brilliant 2.46 ERA across 80 1/3 Double-A frames. last year and also notched a sub-3.00 ERA in his first full professional season with the Twins in 2019.

Sands has primarily worked as a starter in his career, so it will be interesting to see if, like Duffey earlier in his career, Sands’ stuff plays out in the bullpen and allows him to play a role there in the future. Alternatively, he could simply operate in a long relief role until southpaw Jovani Moran returns from the injured list, then return to St. Paul where he would continue to work as a starter and serve as a rotational depth this year and the next.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.