Kintzler, Abad to share Twins' closer duties

June 9th, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- After right-hander Brandon Kintzler picked up his first career save with a scoreless ninth in the Twins' 7-5 win over the Marlins on Wednesday night, manager Paul Molitor announced he'll be backing off closer Kevin Jepsen in the short-term, using Kintzler and lefty Fernando Abad in save situations based on matchups.
Jepsen, who served as closer with Glen Perkins out with a left shoulder strain since April 11, has posted a 6.17 ERA with five losses and three blown saves in 10 chances. Jepsen hasn't pitched a 1-2-3 inning since April 17, and he gave up two runs in the ninth in Sunday's 7-5 loss to the Rays. He'll be eased back into a lower-leverage role.
"We kind of had some discussions about how we're going to use our bullpen, and we're going to mix and match," Molitor said. "I don't know if it's a classic bullpen-by-committee, but we're kind of changing roles here in the short-term. But [Kintzler] has done very well."
Kintzler, who was signed as a Minor League free agent this offseason after pitching with the Brewers from 2010-15, has pitched well since coming up on May 7, posting a 2.30 ERA. He was told to be ready for a save opportunity before Wednesday's game, but said it didn't really hit him until he went out for the ninth. It was his first save since 2012 with Double-A Huntsville.
"It was a little more exciting than I thought it was going to be," said Kintzler, who struck out Giancarlo Stanton to end the game. "I tried to downplay it because I've pitched the eighth many times. But you can't practice the intensity. It was a lot of fun. Definitely different than the eighth inning."
Abad, meanwhile, has been Minnesota's best reliever all season with a 0.87 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings. He also has never picked up a save in seven years in the Majors, but had 13 in the Minors, with his last coming in 2012 with Triple-A Oklahoma City.

"In the Minor Leagues, I saved a couple games," Abad said. "Any opportunity they give me, I'm going to take it."