Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The roster shuffle: Hicks, Thompson, O'Roarke, Pressly, Robinson

The Twins moved some bodies around the past few days while I was writing about other stuff. Assuming everything is settled in, they've cut the staff back to 12 pitchers and re-inserted a genuine centerfielder into the lineup. Let's review:

Reserve outfielder Shane Robinson was absent a few days on family emergency leave, his second such absence of the season. I don't think I've described his situation before, but this Derek Wetmore piece from last month does a pretty good job of explaining why Robinson comes and goes.

Robinson's brief departure opened the door for Aaron Hicks to return from his rehab assignment. Hicks not only made a spectacular catch Monday night, he homered in consecutive games (both from the right side). Power is something that's been missing from his game the past year-plus.

Robinson's return coincided with Ryan Pressly's trip to the disabled list. The right-handed reliever felt something give in the back of his shoulder Saturday. He has had a quietly good stat line (2.93 ERA with the bullpen's second-highest strikeout rate) despite occasional control hiccups.

The upshot: The Twins have replaced Pressly, the bullpen's No. 3 righty, with Hicks.

The other shuffled was LOOGY for LOOGY: Aaron Thompson down, Ryan O'Roarke up.

Ryan O'Roarke has
a career ERA of
4.15 in the minor
I vaguely remember seeing O'Roarke in Beloit in 2012, and I mentioned him in passing in the blog, but I can't recall any specifics. He was one of seven lefties on the Snappers roster when I saw them (that was their final season affiliated with the Twins), and he didn't hold any special interest for me. The idea that he'd be in the big league bullpen before fellow southpaw Corey Williams, a recent third-round pick, would have been ludicrous. But here he is, and Williams is in the process of recovering from Tommy John surgery.

There's not a lot in O'Roarke's minor-league numbers to excite you. He's been used in an emphatic one-out role for the past year and a half in Double A and Triple A. This season, for example: 22 appearances but just 15 innings, with an ERA of 5.40. He's had excellent strikeout rates in that role, but he pretty clearly has some trouble with right-handed hitters.

Which is what did in Thompson, that and, arguably, overuse in the first two months. He leaves leading the American League in appearances but with an ERA of 5.01, this despite still having an impressive slash line against left-handed hitters (.189/.262/.264). The underlying point to Thompson's struggles: Even a left-handed specialist winds up facing more right-handed hitters than left-handed ones, and they have to have something to combat them with.

That will be the challenge for O'Roarke. It does seem noteworthy, however, that he got the call instead of Caleb Theilbar, who spent much of the previous two seasons sharing LOOGY duties with Brian Duensing.

No comments:

Post a Comment