By: Nick Nelson
Last year, the Twins ranked dead last in the majors in strikeouts by relievers, with 392. In 2014 they ranked third to last. With bullpens across the league loading up on hard-throwers and strikeout pitchers, Minnesota was on the outside looking in, especially after an offseason that was devoid of aggressive action.
The hope was that this issue would be resolved on its own, with Kevin Jepsen around for a full year, Ryan Pressly emerging, and May making a full-time transition to relief. That is exactly what has happened.
Entering play on Tuesday, the Twins ranked second in all of baseball in bullpen strikeouts, trailing only the Boston Red Sox.
That’s a little misleading since the Twins have also accrued a relatively high number of relief innings. Their 24.5 percent strikeout rate is 11th in the majors, which is a bit less astonishing but still a massive jump from the dismal 17.9 percent rate they finished at last season.
May has predictably been a K machine while throwing hard in short bursts. He has fanned 23 of the 65 batters he has faced thus far for a 35.4 percent K-rate that places him among the league’s elite. One could certainly argue that he has been throwing a little too hard, since he also has eight walks and an MLB-leading five wild pitches, but he has reined things in after an erratic start.
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