Bailey threw two scoreless innings with two strikeouts in his first spring training outing in Friday's loss to Boston. "You look at what he did at the end of the season with Oakland, and talking with him - I don't want to give into all the secrets, so to speak, but I really think he's figured some things out," Twins pitching coach West Johnson told The Athletic. Bailey turned his season around last year after joining Oakland from Kansas City and had a 4.30 ERA and 1.20 WHIP with a 68:15 K:BB over 73.1 frames. His strikeout rate improve to 21.4 percent from 15.2 percent in 2018, a jump which went hand-in-hand with a career-high usage rate on his splitter. Bailey used his split-fingered fastball more with Oakland and the Twins are encouraging him to focus on his new approach. Bailey will begin the season as the No. 4 starter in the rotation with Michael Pineda suspended until May and Rich Hill out until midseason as he recovers from elbow surgery.
Bailey signed a one-year, major-league deal with the Twins on Tuesday. Bailey will receive $7 million on a one-year deal, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports. The 33-year-old rebounded from a four-season stretch in which he struggled to a 6.25 ERA to post a passable 4.57 ERA in 31 starts for the Royals and Athletics last season. His 21.4 percent strikeout rate was slightly worse than league average, while his 7.6 percent walk rate was slightly better. He's not much more than a back-end starter at this point in his career, and he may not even be that if he slides back to his previous form, but the Twins have a need for an innings eater, especially with fellow new signing Rich Hill (elbow) not expected to pitch until June or July.
Bailey is not on the roster for Wednesday's American League Wild Card Game against the Rays, Neil Solondz of the Rays Radio Network reports. The right-hander has recorded an ERA of 2.28 with a 1.01 WHIP in four starts in September, but will not be available for Wednesday's contest against the lefty-heavy Rays lineup. Sean Manaea will receive the start with Mike Fiers available if necessary. Should the Athletics advance, Bailey should earn a spot on the roster for the American League Division Series.
Bailey (13-9) took the loss against the Angels on Tuesday, giving up three earned runs on eight hits over five innings, striking out three and walking none as Oakland fell 3-2. The veteran blanked the Angels through the first four innings but got tagged for three earned in the fifth, which was enough to ultimately saddle him with his ninth loss of the season, with his offense only giving him two runs of support. Still, this continued a nice recent run for Bailey, who has now reached the five-inning threshold without giving up more than three runs in eight straight starts since a seven-run blowup against the Cubs on Aug. 7. For the season, he has a 4.57 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 149:53 K:BB over 163.1 innings.
Bailey did not factor into the decision during Wednesday's 1-0 win over the Royals, tossing seven scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts while allowing just three hits and a walk. During what turned into a pitching duel with Danny Duffy, Bailey recorded a season-high 11 strikeouts, holding the Royals hitless until Alex Gordon singled in the fifth. The right-handed displayed excellent command this time around and will take a 4.55 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 146:53 K:BB into his next start against the Braves on Tuesday.
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