Alex Colome resurgence creates tough decision for Minnesota Twins

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 17: Alex Colome #48 of the Chicago White Sox looks on against the Minnesota Twins on September 17, 2020 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 17: Alex Colome #48 of the Chicago White Sox looks on against the Minnesota Twins on September 17, 2020 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images) /
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When Alex Colome signed with the Minnesota Twins in early February, many people had this deal one of the most under-the-radar signing of the 2020-21 offseason.

The fit made perfect sense as Taylor Rogers, who was the main closer for the Twins, was coming off a shaky 2020 season, capped off by not being used in the 9th inning against the Houston Astros in Game 1 of their Wild Card Series last year.

Alex Colome’s resurgence could lead the Minnesota Twins to bring him back

Rogers did pitch the eighth inning of that game, but Twins manager Rocco Baldelli opted to remove him and use Sergio Romo to close out the 9th. Romo would end up allowing the Astros to score the eventual game winning run, walking Astros star Jose Altuve on a full count with bases loaded.

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Romo would depart the Twins, opted to return back to the Bay Area and signing with the Oakland A’s. Romo departure, alongside the departures of Matt Wisler and Tyler Clippard, would create holes in the bullpen that they would need to fix if they thought they have any shot to compete against the Chicago White Sox for the AL Central title.

The Twins solution to help reinforce the bullpen: sign the closer of their biggest rival.

Colome time with the White Sox was excellent. In the two years he was in the South Side, he threw for an 2.27 ERA in 83 appearances, amassing to a 202 ERA+ in his two years at Guaranteed Rate Park, capped off by an excellent 2020 season where he threw for an 0.83 ERA.

To cap things off for the Twins too, he signed for relatively cheap: only 5 million dollars this year according to Spotrac. For a player who has been excellent with the White Sox in the last two years,  it looked like the deal would be massive steal for the Twins

But the deal looked awful especially in April. In 9 games in April, Colome had an ERA of 8.31 and opponents were hitting a slash line of .316/.426/.526 against him. He had a WPA(win-probability added) of -2.227 in April, which according to Aaron Gleeman of the Athletic, was the worst WPA ever for a reliever in his first 9 appearances with a team.

He looked like a bust after only one month. He became the face of the Twins bullpen woes this season. Whenever the Twins bullpen would crumble, Twins fans would immediately point to one person: Alex Colome.

Personally I would joke to my Twins buddies that he was a “sleeper agent” sent by the White Sox to dismantle their biggest competitor from within, which honestly felt true very early on in the season.

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli  would remove him from the closer spot three weeks into the season and use him in more lower-leverage situations.

Baldelli decision made have helped Colome. While as of this writing, his overall stats aren’t that impressive: a 4.02 ERA in 47 appearances, his stats since May has been very solid, looking more like the reliever that the Twins signed him to be: an ERA of 3.00 in 36 innings. He’s had a WPA of 0.807 in that span.

Since his removal from the closer, coupled with the injury to Taylor Rogers, Colome has regained his confidence and the closer role. He has solidified the 9th inning for the Twins now. Since July 31st, he has only allowed five batters on base. He has been perfect in save opportunities for the Twins too, going a perfect 5 for 5.

Colome resurgence from his awful April creates an interesting situation for the Twins. With Colome having a mutual option for 2022, it’s looking more likely now than in April that the Twins could exercise that option to keep Colome in the Twins bullpen for 2022.

It wouldn’t honestly be surprising at all if it happens. Colome option is still relatively cheap: worth 5.6 million with a buyout of 1.25 million.

On top of that, Taylor Rogers has been in numerous trade rumors before his injury in the final week of July. Rogers is a free agent after 2022, and with the Twins potentially facing a massive uphill battle to compete with the Chicago White Sox next year, alongside with the improvements of Detroit and Cleveland, who will still be a solid team with their pitching, there could still be a chance that the Twins move on from him in the winter.

But with Twins owner Jim Pohlad telling Dan Hayes of the Athletic back in July that the Twins are “absolutely not going to rebuild,” it wouldn’t be surprising that the Twins opted to keep Rogers and use Rogers and Colome similar to what the White Sox are doing right now with Craig Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks.

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Alex Colome’s resurgence has created an interesting situation for the Minnesota Twins, and maybe it could create a situation where the Twins could go all in to compete with the White Sox in 2022.