Friday, May 2, 2014

Thoughts on a too-long doubleheader

Kris Johnson walked six and struck out
five in 4.1 shutout innings, an odd
combination of effective inefficency.
Neither Mike Pelfrey nor Kris Johnson did their careers any favors with their performances Thursday.

Johnson wasn't going to stick around after his spot start in the night cap anyway, but six walks in 4.1 innings will not sit well. In and out of trouble; he got 13 outs and allowed 10 baserunners, but somehow no runs.

Pelfrey's issues continue, and the buzz after yet another dismal performance suggested the Twins are about ready to pull the plug on him in the rotation.

If so, the dual questions are: Who replaces him in the rotation, and what do they Twins do with him?

The two are connected. If the Twins decide to move Sam Deduno back into the rotation, they can stick Pelfrey in the long relief role and see if they can't find some value for their $11 million investment. But if they (as I've theorized based on the lack of opportunity given Deduno to make the rotation) prefer to have Deduno in the bullpen -- or if they want to slide Trevor May or Alex Meyer to the big club -- they might wind up releasing Pelfrey and eating the money.

Pelfrey apparently has an option left, but he has enough service time to reject the minor league demotion, and I suspect that would be his choice.

I didn't expect him to be great, or even particularly good, but I didn't expect him to be this bad either. The velocity is down and the command is as spotty as ever. He's a pitch-to-contact guy who pitches as if he's afraid to pitch to contact. That cannot work.


I wasn't a bit surprised, after watching Aaron Hicks run into the centerfield fence in the second game, when he left with "concussion-like symptoms." Frankly, he looked on the TV screen like he was concussed. The surprise was that he remained in the game as long as he did.


Drew Butera, offensive machine: The weak-hitting former Twin, effectively the Dodgers' No. 1 catcher while A.J. Ellis is on the disabled list, had two hits Wednesday in his return to Target Field. On Thursday, he hit a home run and drew two four-pitch walks.

There may be no greater testimony to the struggles of the Minnesota pitching staff than that.

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