There have been few bright spots in the Minnesota Twins organization over the last three years, but the transformation of Glen Perkins from failed starter to an All-Star closer is one.
On a team that often fails to throw fastballs in the mid to upper 90s, Glen Perkins is different. Since 2011 his fastball has averaged nearly 95 mph and is a pitch he throws 70% of the time. What fans have seen this season is a Perkins with no command of his pitches — what is most alarming is his fastball is sitting at 92 mph and has at times has even dipped to 89 mph.
This dip has batters swinging and missing just 5% of the time when in the past two seasons that number was 13%. Spring training was not kind to Perkins either. In seven innings he gave up 11 hits, had a 6.43 ERA, and his WHIP (walks and hits per inning) was 1.71.
Spring training statistics should be taken with a grain of salt, but they can’t be ignored completely especially when he has struggled to open this regular season. In the second game of the year Perkins had a two run lead in the 9th inning and allowed three hits and a walk and struggled with his control in allowing two runs to score.
The next day he did record a save with an assist from Pedro Florimon who made a tremendous catch and throw on a ball from deep shortstop on the third base side — then Perkins gave up a double and a throwing error by Chris Colabello allowed the runner to go to third. Fortunately the next hitter crushed a line shot right into the glove of Florimon and Perkins then induced a routine ground ball to end the game and get the save.
Yesterday Perkins struggled again and this time with a six run lead, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk. In between the two runs there was an assortment of loud foul balls and a near home run. It must be noted the weather hasn’t been kind for Perkins or the Twins. The temperatures have been in the mid 30s to 40s and this can cause problems for pitchers and could easily be the reason for his struggles, but when a pitcher’s velocity begins to fall, injury could also be the culprit. Twins fans cringe at the thought of their most reliable pitcher over the past few seasons being hurt, or worse, losing his touch.
Photos via: Keith Allison