|Kennys Vargas smacks an RBI single in Cleveland on|
May 9 against Bruce Chen.
Not sure I understand the rationale for that. True, the Twins will be going four days without a DH -- offday today, two days in a National League Park, offday Thursday -- but they will probably need some pinch hitters in Pittsburgh, and Vargas fits that bill more than, let us say, Doug Bernier, And, barring another DL trip for somebody, Vargas will be gone for at least six DH games after the interleague matchup.
Over past 13 games, Vargas had lifted his batting average by 89 points, his OBP by 67 points and his SLUG by 133 points. Rochester-bound.— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) May 17, 2015
So it's not as if Vargas isn't hitting.
KVargas is Twins' 2nd-best hitter in May, .366 to Hunter's .367. He's not impressed. “A couple hits, but that’s not what we’re looking for.”— Phil Miller (@MillerStrib) May 18, 2015
Vargas, after being sent down: “We’re looking for [me to] produce. Produce means runs & RBIs. You don’t want me to hit a lot of [singles]."— Phil Miller (@MillerStrib) May 18, 2015
Runs and RBIs result from getting on base and hitting for power. He's been doing that this month.
Paul Molitor on Kennys Vargas' mentality before demotion to AAA: "Right now, it’s cluttered." Says its patient one at-bat, aggressive next.— Andy Greder (@andygreder) May 17, 2015
I would think there's a fine line between confused and unpredictable. I'll have to defer to Molitor on this, because he's infinitely closer to the situation, but this has to make it more difficult for pitchers to decide how to attack him. Is it patient Vargas or hack-away Vargas?
But here's something to consider: Torii Hunter has been the DH six times this month, more than a third of the time -- this after not appearing as the designated hitter at all in April. The less he plays in right field, the better for the pitching staff (per Baseball Reference, the Runs Saved defensive metric estimates that Hunter has cost the Twins six runs in the field compared to an average right fielder). Vargas, meanwhile, has had just 10 starts this month. He's hitting better than in April but playing less.
I don't know how close Oswaldo Arcia is to coming off the DL, but it's certainly plausible that Molitor and Terry Ryan are thinking that rotating two poor defensive outfielders through the DH slot is preferable to a full-time DH with Hunter and Arcia giving away runs in the corners. Of course, Arcia isn't back yet.
Anyway: Assuming that the outfielders in Pittsburgh will be Eduardo Escobar in left, Aaron Hicks in center and Hunter in right, the Twins bench figures to be Chris Herrmann, Nunez, Bernier, Shane Robinson and Eddie Rosario. Not much pop there.