Silence any babble about momentum after Sunday's comeback. Inertia was the ruling force Monday, with Scott Baker's season continuing in the direction it's been taking — down.
The only encouraging thing from his outing was the post-game report that his elbow was not sore. But he certainly didn't pitch well — 13 baserunners and 14 outs.
Still, his leash has to be longer than Nick Blackburn's, and probably longer than Kevin Slowey's. Slowey starts today. If he gets shelled again, he's probably just as much at risk of being pulled from the rotation as Blackburn is, and I really hope that Blackburn doesn't start Friday at Baltimore.
But there's only one Brian Duensing on the roster. If Duensing takes Blackburn's place, does Jeff Manship take Slowey's? Glen Perkins has been reportedly pitching better in Triple A Rochester in recent outings, but his ERA is still north of 7 — and almost any callup will make him arbitration eligible, so the Twins have a real financial incentive not to bring him to the majors unless and until they're sure he's going to stick.
Plans B and C for the rotation are in the major league bullpen. If Ron Gardenhire waits another week to move Manship into the rotation, he's going to encounter the same "stretch him out" issue with Manship that he has with Duensing. I'm sure he'd rather fix Blackburn and Slowey, but that seems increasingly unlikely.
Alex Burnett, who earlier this season was pitching his way into a key bullpen role, has now pitched his way off the roster. His ERA, which a month ago was under 2.5, has risen to 4.39, so it's not any surprise.
Anthony Slama (pictured), long a favorite of the blogosphere, got the call. Slama has been successful in the minors, at least by such traditional measures as ERA, but the Twins have not treated him as a true prospect. Two issues: He doesn't throw hard, and he walks people.
I'm a skeptic.