|Brian Duensing has allowed four home runs in 59.2|
innings this season, three of them to left-handed hitters.
The shift to full-time relief work hasn't been a resounding success — 4.07 ERA after Wednesday's two-out appearance, and for a while he was surplanted as the primary left-handed set-up guy by rookie Caleb Thielbar — but a 4.07 ERA is a darn sight better than the ERAs he put up in 2011 and 2012. His strikeout rate is up sharply (his walk rate is also higher) this year, and his home run rate is lower.
And the Twins are making noises about him as a rotation candidate for 2014. Ugh.
The Twins obviously have rotation problems, and one can hardly blame Ron Gardenhire and Terry Ryan for looking under rocks for answers, but Duensing has enough of a track record at this point (545 major league innings and 61 starts) that it's fair to wonder why they'd pick that one to check.
It's worth noting that last year at this time, Ryan was talking about having both Duensing and Anthony Swarzak prepare during the offseason for potential starting jobs. Neither man ever started a game this year, and neither was given even a cursory look as a starter during spring training (Swarzak, of course, was hurt for most of camp). So the Duensing-as-a-starter talk may be just a bit of end-of-the-season wind.
My view on Duensing as a starter hasn't changed from last year: He needs to demonstrate that he has a way to attack right-handed hitters to succeed in that role.
Duensing's platoon stats this year are odd. He has habitually feasted on left-handed hitters and been abused by right-handed hitters — which is why a bullpen shift made a lot of sense for him — but this year lefties have hit him at a .294/.331/.437 clip, righties .271/.359/.377 (per Baseball Reference, which hadn't been updated with Wednesday's outing).
I take this to be a small sample size blip and not indicative of a true change in ability. Even if it isn't a fluke, the overall numbers don't exactly call out to give this man a larger role.