Since Joe Nathan suffered a season-ending injury prior to the 2010 season, the Minnesota Twins have seen a vast array of different pitchers to audition to fill the role of closer. Even Nathan himself came back for the 2011 season to nail down a few saves, but the Twins have seen players such as Jon Rauch, Matt Capps, Jared Burton and Glen Perkins try to lock down the closer job and few have succeeded.
Out of all of the candidates to emerge since 2010, Perkins has seemed the most dominant and successful of all of the pitchers, even though he ranks second among the players listed in blown saves over his Twins’ tenure with nine career blown saves in 37 career opportunities; only Capps has more with 12 blown saves in 57 opportunities over three seasons with the Twins. Now you can look at Perkins’ blown saves statistic and you may start to worry, but I caution you to take into consideration all of the factors before you worry yourself over nothing. Compared to the other candidates besides Capps, Perkins has appeared in more save appearances during his time with the Twins and since being named closer to start this season, Perkins has only blown two saves in 12 appearances.
Compared to the days when Capps was blowing—whoops, I mean closing—games for the Twins, fans and coaches were on edge every time he took the mound because each save was a journey and Capps never looked confident or comfortable when he faced adversity or had to work out of tough situations. Perkins, on the other hand, has the pure stuff and mindset to dominate hitters in any situation and has lived up to that mantra so far as a closer; so compared to Capps, Perkins is a welcomed sight for a Twins’ bullpen that has been relied on heavily during the early portion of this season.
The fact that Perkins has blown two saves early on this season and that Perkins has allowed a run in two of his last five appearances should be nothing to worry about for Twins’ fans. Perkins did come in to lock down his 11th save of the season on Wednesday night for the Twins in a 4-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, but the irregularity by which Perkins has been asked to operate on has to be taking its toll on Perkins’ effectiveness because he can sometimes go days or weeks at a time without a save appearance. This can affect his ability to remain sharp on the mound despite the opportunities and appearances he makes when there isn’t a save opportunity in place. When given the ball during save opportunities on a consistent basis, Perkins can and will remain one of the more dominant closers in baseball today and will only get better as he gains more experience in the position.
Although Perkins ERA is a bit on the high side at 3.20, he still posts very strong overall numbers with a 1.02 WHIP, a 13.98 strikeouts per nine innings and a 4.83 strikeout to walk ratio with hitters hitting a combined .194 against him on the season. Those numbers, plus the eye-test, should be what Twins’ fans and analysts should focus on instead of his ERA or blown saves statistic.
The season is early and like the rest of the Twins, Perkins is still growing into his role. It is crucial that Perkins gets the necessary development and experience over these next few seasons so he can be the dominant closer he is capable of being when the Twins return to contention over the next few seasons. Now is not the time for concern with Perkins, nor do I foresee a situation where there should be any cause for concern with Perkins at any point during the rest of this season.
Make no mistake about it, Perkins is the Twins closer, he’s the best option they have at closer and he will remain the most dominant reliever and best option to close out games for the Twins for the remainder of the season and for the foreseeable future.