The expectation had been that the Twins would wait until September and the expanded rosters to reactivate Blaine Boyer from the disabled list, but on Wednesday Boyer and J.R. Graham traded places.
Graham's injury was announced as "shoulder inflammation," and the cynic/skeptic in me whispers that it's really an inflamed ERA. Graham can't be readily sent to the minors because he's a Rule 5 guy, and he last had an appearance in which he (a) got at least one out (b) without allowing a run a month ago. Literally, July 26, against the Yankees. (In fairness, I should add that Graham had a major shoulder problem a couple of years ago, and there is good reason to be cautious if he does indeed have an issue.)
Now he's sidelined for two weeks, and the Twins can easily meet the requirements to hold Graham's rights while not having the problem of carrying a relief pitcher they don't want to use in key situations.
Boyer immediately wound up working two innings Wednesday night as the Twins pushed their winning streak to six. This took his ERA down to 2.86, and I'm quite comfortable with asserting that this has been the best season of his nine in the majors.
Paul Molitor had Boyer handle the seventh and eighth innings, but that doesn't figure to be his standard role at this point. Wednesday's usage was more about trying to give Casey Fien and Trevor May a day off, and, perhaps, about Kevin Jepsen filling in as closer for Glen Perkins.
The latter is again a matter of concern. Apparently Perkins, who had been trying to pitch with a bad disc in his neck, is now having back spasms. I've had enough back issues myself over the years to suspect that the two issues are related.
Taking Perkins out certainly thins the bullpen, but it also has to be said: The acquisition of Jepsen (and to a lesser extent Neal Cotts), plus the shift of May to relief work, has really deepened the relief corps. A month ago the bullpen was a serious problem. Today it isn't, and kudos to Terry Ryan and Co. for a midstream repair job.