In a world increasingly insistent on the absolutes of black and white, having a neutral or complicated opinion can be controversial.
But here we go: The Twins need to add help to the back end of their bullpen by the end of July, BUT their relief group hasn’t been as much of a problem as the panicked Craig Kimbrel shouters might have you believe.
First off, entering Sunday the Twins had converted 22 saves as a team with just four blown opportunities for an 81.8% success rate. That ties them for the fourth-fewest blown saves, and the conversion rate ranked No. 3 in all of MLB, providing evidence of just how good the bullpen — led by Taylor Rogers (and in many cases Blake Parker) — has been when it matters most.
Second, if your biggest concern is the Twins’ 4.71 bullpen ERA entering Sunday — No. 21 in MLB — please bear this in mind: The collective ERA of the eight guys currently in the bullpen was 2.89.
The bloated overall number comes primarily from ineffective relievers who are either injured or have been dispatched from the major league roster. Those pitchers — led by Adalberto Mejia and Trevor Hildenberger — have a combined 10.42 ERA.
Obviously shuttling through so many bullpen arms — 16 different pitchers have already made at least one relief appearance for the Twins — shows off some fundamental problems. But the best Twins relievers have been pretty good overall, and when it matters most.
If Minnesota can add one or two more high-end arms by the trading deadline, things will look even better.
• The Twins demoted Willians Astudillo to Class AAA Rochester over the weekend, shipping out one of the unique players in modern major league baseball.
But Astudillo’s penchant for swinging the bat while keeping strikeouts and walks to a ridiculous minimum might be trumped by the distinction of the player who replaced him on the Twins roster.
Ryan Eades, who made his debut for the Twins by throwing two shutout innings in relief on Saturday, is the first player in major league baseball history to wear No. 80 in a game.
The oddity — noted by the Twitter feed @NumbersMLB and confirmed via Baseball Reference — also means that while a handful of numbers have been worn by only one player there are now just three numbers that have never been worn in an MLB game: 86, 89 and 92.
On the Twins active roster, two other pitchers — No. 65 Trevor May and No. 68 Matt Magill — are the only ones in franchise history to wear those numbers.
As for the most common number in franchise history? Well, 70 different players for the Twins/Senators have worn No. 21, including Tyler Duffey on this year’s team.
• File this under can’t catch a break … or karma … or just coincidence, depending on your point of view: Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner, mired in a slump, was robbed of a hit Saturday.
He was so frustrated that when he got back to the dugout, he took off his helmet and angrily threw it. But the helmet caromed off the dugout wall and hit Gardner in the face — hard enough that he was bleeding and needed stitches.
Gardner at least had luck Sunday. After 22 consecutive hitless at-bats, he homered in the second inning.