Reusse: Duffey’s latest meltdown meant he’s gone, probably for good

Ron Perranoski came to the Twins from the Los Angeles Dodgers before the 1968 season, and pitched brilliantly for three years. He totaled 65 saves for the 1969 and 1970 Twins teams that won the first two American League West titles.

Then, the lefty with a sinker and big curveball turned 34 right before the 1971 season and he hit the wall — as did Bill Rigney’s second year as manager.

I was working the Twins clubhouse occasionally for the St. Paul newspapers, and asked Perranoski a few questions as he sat at his locker.

Perranoski answered those, while also going through that day’s “fan” mail that had been placed in his locker. He opened one letter, smiled and said: “Check out this one.”

It was a low-production drawing of a handgun with the barrel bent and pointed back at the shooter. There was encouragement for Perranoski to use such a weapon.

So, the abuse for relief pitchers goes way back in our Twins history — even for ones who had just been great in back-to-back, high 90s-winning seasons.

The difference is, when wanting to message Perranoski over your unhappiness during his last four months in Minnesota (waived July 31, 1971), he would see it three days later in the mail.

When wanting to rip into Tyler Duffey in 2022, it took three seconds on a huge variety of outlets to question his right to ever have received a pay receipt in pro baseball.

Duffey was a success story as a starter turned reliever. He had an excellent season (2019) and a strong mini-season (2020), then was more hittable in 2021.

The Twins were hoping for the former sharpness for 2022. They received a few carnages, and finally there was a debacle in Thursday night’s 9-3 loss to the potent Blue Jays at Target Field.

Emilio Pagan, Trevor Megill and Duffey shared similar responsibility, but it was Duffey taking the fall on Friday.

Falvey and Associates still have hopes for rescuing Pagan, and to build a pitching approach around Megill’s fastball, which can travel 100 miles per hour.

Not so with Duffey, 31, and with adjustments to make in order to have another successful run in a big-league bullpen.

Duffey was a humorous clubhouse presence for media visitors, particularly in 2018, when the Twins kept sending him down and back from Class AAA Rochester without regard to how he had pitched.

It happened so often that on the notorious early-morning flight from Rochester, N.Y., to MSP, the flight attendants started to say: “Nice to see you again, Mr. Duffey.”

A message was sent to Duffey on Friday, with the suggestion that perhaps he could find a seat near former teammate Ryan Pressly with Houston.

Probably too many of those young gas throwers Houston keeps finding, but a pitcher has a right to dream of being in the bullpen of his hometown team, can’t he?

“Yeah, there’s a few spots I wouldn’t mind,” Duffey responded.

The Duffey release was more evidence the Twins’ decisionmakers finally had lost their senses of humor when it came to the bullpen.

On Tuesday, they caused some attrition to their smallish number of true prospects, trading for All-Star closer Jorge Lopez and starter Tyler Mahle. The Twins also added Michael Fulmer, a familiar and durable reliever with the Tigers.

One night later, the Tigers were no problem for the new Twins bullpen in a 4-1 victory. And then they ran out Pagan, Megill and Duffey Thursday, against a real lineup, and they gave up three runs apiece.

Happy trails to Duffey, after 295 appearances, and Pagan and Megill could be next, in that order.

The Twins received a fine test for the new top layer of the bullpen Friday night.

The Blue Jays fell behind 5-0, as former Twins ace Jose Berrios was knocked out during a four-run fourth.

The new starter, Mahle, allowed a run in the fifth, then was bushwhacked for three in the sixth, included was a two-run home run from Vlad Guerrero Jr. that required a 20-second prance around the bases.

It was now 5-4. This one-run lead was a true test for the Big Bullpen Fix. Griffin Jax struck out the side in the seventh, Jhoan Duran pitched around two runners in the eighth, and then Lopez couldn’t escape in the ninth — giving up a tying, two-out bloop RBI single.

Fulmer saved the night, keeping the free runner at third (with the bases-loaded) and one out in the 10th, and the Twins won it 6-5 on two Blue Jays’ fielding blunders in the bottom of the 10th.

Take the gift and expect Lopez to be better the next time.

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