Brandon Kintzler was an unheralded minor league signing last season as the Twins signed him for depth and he began the season at Triple-A. After Glen Perkins was lost for the year due to injury and Kevin Jepsen proved ineffective, Kintzler surprisingly got a shot at the closer role in June and kept the job the rest of the season. While Kintzler had just a 5.8 K/9, he kept batters off base with good control (1.33 BB/9) and generated groundballs (61.9 percent of batted balls), leading to conversions on 17 of 20 save chances. Despite his success, he's just as unlikely a candidate to keep the job given his lack of dominant velocity (92.7 mph average fastball) and mediocre strikeout rates (career 6.5 K/9). However, his success as a closer last season should give him the first chance at the role in 2016.
Kintzler picked up the save in Saturday's win over the Mariners by allowing only one single in his inning of work. The one-run lead Kintzler had upon starting the 9th was threatened when Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz both reached base to begin the inning -- the latter on an error by Miguel Sano -- but Kyle Seager grounded into a double play, then Adam Lind to flied out to end the game. This conversion marked Kinztler's 15th save in 18 chances.
Kintzler gave up two hits and a run, but ultimately finished off the Royals for his 14th save Wednesday. The Royals got the tying run as far as second base in their effort to put a sweep on Minnesota, but Kintzler worked out of it. Still, he's now given up seven runs on seven hits and three walks in his last three innings, so he's fortunate that the Twins are thin on alternate closing options.
Kintzler worked around a hit and recorded a strikeout in a scoreless ninth Thursday against the White Sox for his 13th save. He'd gone more than two weeks without a save chance since nailing one down against Atlanta back on Aug. 16, but delivered on the rare opportunity. Although Kintzler's not much of a strikeout pitcher, spectacular control has made him one of the game's more effective relievers this year. He's walked just three batters in 44.1 innings.
Kintzler earned his 12th save of the season Tuesday, allowing a lone double before retiring the side to secure a 4-2 win over the Braves. Kintzler has been solid for the Twins this season, lowering his ERA to 1.82 with the scoreless frame. He's blown just one save compared to his 12 converted since taking over the closer role in June. While he only has 24 strikeouts on the season, he's walked just three, and has allowed just four home runs.
Kintzler picked up his 10th save with a perfect ninth inning in Monday's win over the Astros. Since taking the closer's role June 8, Kintzler has been excellent, converting 10-of-11 save opportunities with a 13:2 K:BB in 23 innings. Kintzler owns a 92.8 mph fastball and doesn't possess the electric stuff typical of today's closers, but his combination of a heavy sinker to induce grounders and impeccable control has proven effective thus far.