Keppel a slice of heaven in 'pen
Reliever hasn't allowed a run in 11 1/3 innings since callup
MINNEAPOLIS -- As tough as Minnesota's 4-3 loss to New York was on Wednesday, reliever Bobby Keppel continued to be a bright spot in the Twins' bullpen.In his fourth appearance with Minnesota since being called up prior to the team's series against St. Louis, Keppel pitched 3 2/3 innings after he relieved starter Anthony Swarzak in the fifth inning. Keppel allowed just two hits and continued his scoreless stint with the Twins, having thrown 11 1/3 innings without surrendering a run. What's been the key to Keppel's success? His sinker, which he said he developed with his first professional pitching coach, Mark Dewey, nine years ago. "He said, 'Hey, grip this two-seam.' I threw that and he said, 'Don't throw a four-seamer again,'" Keppel said. "Ever since then, I've kind of been working with that pitch and trying to perfect it." Keppel's sinker has helped him work out of a handful of jams during his stint with the Twins -- something he said he grew accustomed to at the Triple-A level. On Wednesday, he entered the fifth inning with two runners already on base. Keppel was able to escape without surrendering a run, thanks in large part to his sinker. "This game's all about confidence," Keppel said. "What I was able to do in Triple-A this year, it gave me the confidence that I could do it here." Prior to this season, Keppel spent parts of two seasons with Kansas City and Colorado, making a total of 12 appearances while compiling a 6.10 ERA over that span. The key now, Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said, will be for Keppel to not try and do too much if he hopes to hold down his spot in the Twins' bullpen. "I think it's just time and figuring out you don't have to throw the ball 98 mph," Gardenhire said. "You can rely on sink and location. Some people, it finally sinks in. To be successful, it's pitch to contact down in the zone and get ground balls. I think he's kind of figured that out." "How many times have you heard guys come up here, 'Well, what do you want to do this year?'" Keppel said. "'I want to be consistent.' Everyone says that. How do you do it? That's the million-dollar question."
Tyler Mason is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.