Notes: Bullpen stepping up; Sanó's strikeouts

September 22nd, 2021

With the season winding down, the Twins have received some improvements from their bullpen that has had some struggles in 2021.

Over their past 24 games, Minnesota’s relievers entered Wednesday sporting a collective 2.41 ERA over their past 101 innings, which ranks first in the American League ahead of the White Sox (2.91) and the Tigers (3.31). The bullpen unit also ranked fourth in batting average allowed (.220) and third in WHIP (1.17).

“I think we’ve seen a lot of guys fall into the mentality that they’re ready to just come out here and win ballgames,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’ve mixed our guys up a lot. We’ve brought guys in early … the same guy may come in late, the same guy may throw two innings the next time out. Our guys have focused very, very well."

Among those whose turnarounds look to help the Twins end the season on a positive note is late-inning reliever . Colomé, who had a 4.83 ERA in 31 2/3 innings before the All-Star break, has posted a 2.54 ERA in his past 28 1/3 innings and has converted 12 of his 16 save opportunities in the second half.

Baldelli said the improvements have made handing the ball to the bullpen a much more comfortable move.

“Colomé has held down the ninth inning for the most part, but you really can look at every single guy,” Baldelli said. “To really put up numbers like that over an extended period of time, you have to look up and down the line and point to everyone going out there and doing their job and throwing the ball well. … It’s been a good feeling being able to go to our bullpen because you know what you’re gonna get right now.”

Sanó’s historic strikeout rate

found himself on the wrong side of the history books on Sunday. The Twins slugger struck out for the 1,000th time in his career, making him the fastest player to reach 1,000 strikeouts in the AL/NL Modern Era (since 1901).

Sanó, who entered Wednesday with a .237/.328/.492 slash line in seven big league seasons, ranks in the 96th percentile for average exit velocity and in the 98th percentile for hard-hit percentage in 2021, per Statcast.

Baldelli said for a hard hitter like Sanó, those strikeouts are to be expected.

“I’ll tell you this, when you look at Miguel Sanó’s body of work as a Major League hitter, he’s been a very impactful, almost destructive force,” Baldelli said Sunday. “He pulverizes the baseball. He’s gotten on base in his career at a pretty decent clip. He’s a guy that pitchers don’t want to face a lot of the time.

“Part of his game is, he is going to be a guy who hits the ball over the fence. He’s going to drive in runs. He’s going to be a pretty good offensive player. And part of that, along with it, does come some strikeouts, and that’s always going to be the case.”