It's no secret, the Twins will be seeking bullpen help as the trade deadline approaches. The current group of relievers has helped get the Twins where they are, but let's face it, there is plenty of evidence that suggests upgrades are required, and soon coming. Who may be available? Today we'll dive into the arm of Kansas City's Jake Diekman. Could this lefty help save the bullpen?
Jake Diekman, 32-years-old, LHP
Kansas City Royals (29-55, fourth in the AL Central)
Has a $5.75MM mutual option in 2020 (500K buyout).
2019: 4.76 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 13.5 K/9, 5.3 BB/9 in 34.0 IP
2018: 4.73 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 11.1 K/9, 5.2 BB/9 in 53.1 IP
What's to like?
Frankly, to traditional, antiquated, bare-minimum statistics Jake Diekman projects as a crummy reliever. But here at Twins Daily, we uncover the stories behind the stories, that are behind those stories, too. And Jake Diekman's story is very intriguing, indeed.
Despite what the label "lefty" might engender, Diekman is anything but an everyday soft tosser. Among left-handed relievers, he averages 95.5 mph with a sinking fastball, and ranks third among American League relievers in average fastball velocity.
Additionally, Diekman is valuable in containing the long ball. He presently carries a slugging-against percentage of .320 (that's fantastic). He also sports 13.5 K/9. That alone is ticketed for the postseason.
It's also worth mentioning that Diekman has SUFFERED against Twins hitting, of which he hopefully is not the last victim. The Twins have hit .364/.440/.682 over 25 PAs against him, which to put in perspective is about the same as Barry Bond's 2004 MVP season but only slightly less power. Two of the three homers Diekman has given up this year have come from the Twins. If you can't beat em, join em? I guess.
Walks. Not only are walks the cardinal sin in the postseason, they are self-inflicted damage and tend to snowball and makes bigger messes out of small messes.
Well, the bummer is Diekman fashions a 13.4% walk rate, good for the bottom fifth percentile in the league. In the 15 appearances he's granted a walk, he's been pegged for runs 80% of the time. That's indicative of a bad bullpen in inherited runners scored (something the Twins bullpen aren't much better at in their own right), and a bad escape artist in Diekman.
One external factor that might end up being the most contingent factor of a trade could be the Twins' reluctance to making an intra-division deal. Consider it friendly fire, possibly accelerating a Royals rebuild. This is probably not what the Twins want for simply a semi-rental asset. The last time the Twins made a trade with a Central Division foe, was with the Royals in 2015 for a fringe prospect. In return for that prospect, Jason Adam, the Twins shipped to Kansas City the rental Josh Willingham. That was under the Terry Ryan regime. Under the long-term-success oriented team of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, it might not be perceived to be in the Twins' best interest to offer a blue-chip prospect for a flawed reliever.
Well then it's pretty much settled. Jake Diekman is a somewhat appealing arm, and would conceivably complement Taylor Rogers pretty well if the walks came down. If the Twins so desperately want to end the revolving door of relievers, then Jake Diekman could be a stellar choice as a secondary reliever in our bullpen. He could also be a lethal left-handed weapon in high leverage spots.