MINNEAPOLIS -- If it appears to you that Rocco Baldelli is auditioning relievers for the closer’s role, well, you aren’t crazy. Five pitchers have at least one save this season, and the role is still alternating at mid-June.
Still, the Minnesota Twins manager said, that isn’t the case.
“This is not a multi-month audition for late innings in our bullpen,” Baldelli said Wednesday, June 12, before the Twins played host to Seattle. “This is what we think works best for our group.”
Right-hander Trevor May earned his first save in Tuesday’s 6-5 victory over the Mariners, the latest reliever to find himself on the mound in time to close out a win. Righty Blake Parker leads the team with nine saves, and left-hander Taylor Rogers has six.
Baldelli said the decision to alternate the responsibility is somewhat related to his philosophy of managing; he wants to use his team the best way he sees fit, and wants to the flexibility to change on the fly — which might not happen if he works backward from a designated closer and/or setup man.
He also acknowledged that with a different group, he might change direction.
“I can’t tell you if we’re talking about different people that it would be run in the exact same way,” he said. “I can’t say that.”
With the Twins playing some of the best baseball in the majors — they led the American League Central by 10 1/2 games on Wednesday morning and are among the best-hitting teams in baseball — it’s likely Baldelli will be working with some different pitchers after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
One of the least-used in baseball with just 202 combined innings so far, the bullpen has been the Twins’ only real weakness, 21st in MLB with a 4.63 earned-run average. The starters’ combined ERA (3.64) ranks fourth, and the team ranks first in batting average (.274), RBIs (374) and home runs (tied with Seattle with 127).
If the Twins acquired a pitcher they believe can close regularly at the deadline, maybe Baldelli will switch course. Until then, roles will change game by game.
“Going forward,” he said, “what we’ll continue to do is also what works best for our group.”
Socially, this has been a tough week for May, a popular live-streamer and co-owner of an eSports company that collects and analyzes data for the popular video game “Overwatch.”
E3 is the world’s largest expo for the video gaming industry, has been going on all week at the Los Angeles Convention Center and was set to end Thursday. Does he wish he could attend the annual summer event?
“A little bit,” he said. “I have probably, like, 10 really good friends at E3 right now, having a great time. I keep checking their Instagram stories and they’re all having dinner together, stuff like that, and I’m working. But it is the nature of the deal.”
May, 29, has more than 130,000 followers who watch him live stream game play on streaming service Twitch and is co-owner of winsonslab.com, kind of the Sabremetrics of online battle game “Overwatch.” On the Twins’ day off Monday, he live-streamed E3’s PC gaming presentation; it’s his favorite way to play games.
He also was eager to learn about upcoming releases such as Nintendo’s new “Zelda” game and “Borderlands 3,” the sequel to the game he is currently streaming on his Twitch channel, “iamtrevormay.”
But he’s most excited by the new version of “Baldur’s Gate,” a sword and sorcery game he has been playing for nearly 20 years.
“When I was, like, 10, the original one came out,” he said. “They’ve been making it for, like, 14 years, and they announced it’s actually going to come out in the next year.”