Perkins is nasty.
That's not a critique of my favorite late-night breakfast haunt, it's a commentary on the performance of Twins' reliever Glen Perkins, whose emergence as a reliable setup man has stood out as one of the team's few bright spots this year.
I certainly didn't see it coming. Entering this season, Perkins had a 4.81 career ERA and 1.44 WHIP -- not the kind of numbers that scream "late-inning relief." Over the past three years, he had allowed 332 hits in 269 innings.
The 2010 season was a tumultuous one for Perkins, who toiled his way to a 4-9 record and 5.81 ERA in Rochester. He didn't fare any better during his time in Minnesota, posting a 5.82 ERA and 1.56 WHIP in 21 2/3 big-league innings.
Yet, the Twins' coaching staff saw something they liked in the southpaw while he worked out of the bullpen as a September call-up, enough so that they tendered him a contract and essentially guaranteed him a spot in this year's renovated relief corps.
Perkins jumped out to a fast, yet unsustainable, start for the Twins. Over his first nine appearances, he allowed no runs on five hits over nine frames but struck out only three of the 31 batters he faced. The lefty's success in spite of an abysmal 10-percent K-rate came on the wings of a .192 BABIP, and even if your name's Mariano Rivera you don't sustain a sub-.200 BABIP.
Perkins' luck was bound to catch up with him, and it has. In 10 appearances since, he has a .400 BABIP. Yet he has continued to excel, with a 1.42 ERA and .615 opponents' OPS during that span, thanks to a huge spike in punch-outs. In those 10 appearances, Perkins has fanned 18 of 50 hitters. That's more than one out of every three.
Perkins, a former first-round pick, was considered a top prospect while coming up through the minors but it's sometimes been hard to tell while watching him work out of the major-league rotation. As a starter, he's battled injuries and mostly survived as a left-handed junk-baller. But Perkins seems to have found a home in the bullpen, where his fastball has elevated to the mid-90s and his confidence continues to grow.
The success has prompted some Twins fans to wonder whether a return to the rotation might be in order, but make no mistake: Perkins is right where he needs to be. The Twins deserve credit for figuring that out, even if it it took a few years to do so.