Posted at 6:00 AM on May 15, 2009
by David Zingler
In 2007, Matt Guerrier was one of the best setup men in baseball, posting a 2.35 ERA and a 68/21 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 88 innings. 2008 however, was a different story. With Pat Neshek out, Guerrier was asked to take over as the 8th inning, right-handed set-up role. After a solid start, Guerrier faded down the stretch, posting a bloated 8.88 second-half ERA.
With all of the question marks in the bullpen, the Twins need a strong season from the 30-year-old reliever if the team hopes to exit the Dome in style.
DZ: This year, you've gotten off to a pretty good start, found your old form, what's that been like?
GUERRIER: It's always good to get off to a good start especially the way things ended last year.
DZ: Last season you guys lose the playoff game and personally, you probably didn't pitch as well as you would have liked down the stretch, what was your mindset going into the offseason?
GUERRIER: I just started a little later than I usually do. I didn't really want to change anything, I just felt like what I had done the past couple of years was good and I wanted to stick with that - just take a little bit of extra time (off). So, I really I didn't do anything different.
DZ: Playing that long and coming up just a little bit short, is there any kind of depression cycle you go through?
GUERRIER: Not really. It's one of those things where you look back on a bunch of games where you came close to winning and ended up losing and you just kind of realize every game is important. It's not really a depression thing; I still watched all of the playoff games and was disappointed we didn't get a chance to play (in them).
DZ: You still watched the playoff games, though (other players I have talked to didn't).
GUERRIER: Yeah. I am a kind of a fan, so....I enjoy watching the playoffs and World Series.
DZ: You're a guy who has made a lot of appearances - 70+ the last few years (73 in '07 and 76 in '08) - there is some talk about cutting that back a little bit, is that something you want to do?
GUERRIER: I haven't really heard...I just think they're...with the amount of guys we have in the 'pen - guys they are throwing in during late situations - I think they are going to give us all a little bit of off time here and there whenever they feel like we have gotten too much work. I think they'll do a good job of that. Whatever it ends up - 70, 60 (appearances) - whatever they want me to do I will try and go out there and get the job done.
DZ: You're being used as the righty 8th inning guy, what is the difference between being an 8th inning guy versus a middle inning guy?
GUERRIER: I think there is not much of a difference. You've got to go out there and get the guys out either way. Middle stuff, you might have to go more than one inning and with the 8th inning, you might only come in for one inning and it might be a clean inning. In the middle innings you might have to come in with some guys on and get thrown right into some pressure situations. It's all about being aggressive and coming after those guys and giving it all you've got.
DZ: Does the pressure kind of mount as the game goes on - especially in a close game - the pitchers and hitters know there is a lot more at stake in the last couple of innings?
GUERRIER: I think it's magnified a little bit later in the game; people pay attention a little bit more late in the game. (Although) a lot of games are lost in the 5th and 6th inning also when relievers are in there....(when it's) a little bit later, it kind of flusters people because it gets us closer to using Joe (Nathan) in the 9th and we are pretty confident when he is out there with the lead.
DZ: What can you learn from watching a closer like Joe Nathan?
GUERRIER: He's been aggressive every time I have seen him out there. He doesn't get behind in the count; he works ahead and throws strikes. That is kind of the biggest thing - going out there and throwing strikes and letting the defense do the work and trying to get in and out as quickly as possible.
DZ: You're one of the veterans out there (in the bullpen) right now; have you found yourself in the role of mentor for the young guys?
GUERRIER: Yeah. They ask questions, there are certain things they want to know about. I think a lot of us down in the 'pen - me, Jesse (Crain), Joe and (Luis) Ayala - can kind of do that and we all keep pretty good company with each other. I feel like they can come to anyone of us.
DZ: Are you looking forward to having a real bullpen next year in the new stadium?
GUERRIER: (laughs) We'll see, hopefully it's warm.
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
See more of David Zingler's interviews with Twins players:
May 13: Kevin Slowey
April 30: Brendan Harris
April 28: Jason Kubel
April 18: Justin Morneau
April 15: R.A. Dickey
April 14: Denard Span
April 8: Philip Humber
April 7: Joe Crede
Interesting article. I hope Matt has a better year!