The Twins have trailed at the end of an inning just 10 times all season, which is mighty impressive when you consider they have played 84 innings total.
Their 5-4 record is not indicative of their overall play, but it is reflective of something that is either a small sample glitch, a large problem looming or a little of both:
Minnesota is 1-3 in one-run games, with all of those defeats coming in bogus "runner on second" extra inning affairs. Their loss Sunday was almost as painful, though by two runs and in just nine innings, when Seattle rallied from a 6-0 deficit to win 8-6 — the last of the three runs coming on a Kyle Seager ninth-inning homer off Alexander Colome. They've now been outscored 14-0 in the ninth and 10th inning this season.
Patrick Reusse and I talked about the bullpen woes on Monday's Daily Delivery podcast (after we were done sharing our amazement that another slugger who used to routinely punish Twins pitchers, Alex Rodriguez, is part of the Timberwolves' new ownership group).
If you don't see the podcast player, click here to listen.
I've had my fun on Twitter with Colome jokes, saying that whatever he is offering up I am ready to move on to whatever is in Column B.
My guess is that he will get better as the year goes on; he's left a few cutters fat and out over the plate (including the hanger Seager pounded on Sunday).
FanGraphs says his velocity looks OK — nearly identical to what it was when he had a lot of success in 2019 and 2020 with the White Sox, as is his pitch mix.
And I am willing to concede that bullpen roles can be a bit overrated. You need 27 outs no matter when they happen, and sometimes three outs in the seventh or eighth inning are harder to get than the three in the ninth.
All that said: I'm not convinced Colome will, at any point this season, be throwing the ball better than Taylor Rogers. The Twins lefty has added velocity and his slider looks sharper.
By all means, don't wear him down like 2019. But most teams, including the best ones, still generally use their best relief pitcher most of the time at the end of a game.
Rogers should be deployed as the closer in at least two-thirds to three-fourths of his outings. Maybe there are occasions when using him earlier and giving Colome or Tyler Duffey the ninth makes more sense. But that should be the exception, not the rule.
Because right now, though it's early, you can draw a line from three of the Twins' four losses and link them to Colome: Three runs allowed in the ninth inning of the opener, an eventual extra-innings loss; a run allowed Saturday in the eighth inning of another extra-innings loss; and those three runs allowed Sunday while trying to protect a one-run lead.
Statcast says 55% (11 of 20) balls put in play off Colome have been hard-hit so far.
For me, it comes down to this: When someone with Rogers' stuff misses his spot with a pitch, there is a better chance it doesn't wind up barreled up than when someone like Colome does the same thing.
Dominance and damage control are what I want in the ninth, so for the love of Rogers please use him in that inning.