Griffin Jax’s High Leverage Success Comes With Ever Increasing Levels of Heat

Griffin Jax, Minnesota Twins
Nick Wosika-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins took Griffin Jax in the third round of the 2016 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. His path to the majors was not conventional, and his development has been consistently evident.

Starting out the 2024 season, Rocco Baldelli was forced to work without the top arm in his bullpen. As Jhoan Duran began the year on the injured list, it was a combination of Griffin Jax and Brock Stewart to close out ball games.

Duran missed enough time, in the spring, that Jax was able to settle into a higher leverage role. And that experience continues to pay off, now that Duran is healthy again.

New career high velocity for Griffin Jax

After getting lackluster results during the 2021 season as a starter, the Twins sent Griffin Jax to the bullpen full time in 2022. It couldn’t have been a better decision, and he has since ascended the ranks of Minnesota’s relief hierarchy to a point where he has become indispensable.

Jax threw just 92.7 mph, on average, as a starter. In his first season out of the bullpen, the Air Force Academy Captain‘s fastball jumped to 95 mph. Last year, his second season in relief, Jax’s fastball averaged a new career-best, 96.5 mph.

On Sunday, he flipped across a 98.6 mph heater to close out a 1-2-3 eighth inning vs the Houston Astros, setting a new career-high for velocity.

Velocity is something that the Derek Falvey-led Twins have been synonymous with for pitchers. Finding a way to add ticks to pitches is something that both Wes Johnson and Pete Maki have made a career out of. Just ask Joe Ryan.

Related: Did You See How Hard Joe Ryan is Throwing Now?

Jax throwing the fastest pitch of his career last night was no surprise and it shouldn’t shock you when it jumps again, in the near future. In 2024, Griffin’s average fastball velocity is up to 96.9 mph, continuing his upward trend from the past couple seasons.

It shouldn’t be lost that while Jax continues to throw the ball harder than ever, he also looks like the best version of himself. Having to work without the help of Duran starting the year, Jax was the final line of defense for Minnesota to win games.

Watch out, the Minnesota Twins’ bullpen is getting healthy…

He responded by recording five saves, and owns a career-low 2.13 ERA. It’s not a mirage either, as his FIP actually outpaces the ERA, and his 33 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings jump off the page. The Twins were expected to have one of baseball’s best bullpens this season.

There have been glimpses as to why that could be true, but their best relievers have rarely been a healthy at the same time. Getting Brock Stewart back will only add to what projects as an absolutely devastating trio of Jax, Duran and a healthy, confident Jorge Alcala. No doubt one of the more imposing back-ends in the MLB (on paper).

Related: Jhoan Duran is Back and His New Cleats are Fire

For a 29-year-old who spent most of his twenties navigating the minor leagues while climbing the military ranks, who has transformed himself from a washed out starter, to one of the best relievers in the game, it has been an impressive journey for Griffin Jax. One that is hopefully only beginning

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