Monday, August 7, 2017

Getting some relief

The Twins on Sunday had their first save opp since the Brandon Kintzler trade -- really, the first time in more than a week that the bullpen was asked to protect a lead, as Ervin Santana and Bartolo Colon had complete games in their two wins last week.

The 'pen came through: Trevor Hildenberger threw two scoreless innings, Taylor Rogers got through the eighth and Matt Belisle worked a perfect ninth for his first save since 2012.

Not the way I would prefer, but it worked.

Dick Bremer at least twice, and maybe more, invoked Belisle's "senior status" Sunday as justification for giving him at least a share of the closer role. Bremer may be an imperfect conduit for the mind of Paul Molitor, but my working assumption is that the broadcasters for a team reflect the thinking of management. If Molitor genuinely prefers Belisle late in games because he's got more years in the pension plan than anybody else, that's a bad sign.

The veteran has been getting outs more consistently than anybody else in the bullpen for weeks now; Belisle hasn't been charged with a run, earned or unearned, since June. Rogers, meanwhile, had allowed at least one run in six straight appearances befors Sunday.

At least Hildenberger finally got to pitch with a narrow lead.


A couple other notes about the pitching staff:

Dillon Gee isn't, as I assumed when he was called up last week, filling the rotation spot vacated by the Jaime Garcia trade. He made his Twins debut in relief, and Kyle Gibson was returned for Saturday's start. It was SOG -- same old Gibson. He got 16 outs and allowed nine baserunners; this is not a good OBP allowed.

And the return of Glen Perkins to the major league bullpen is presumably imminent. Perkins was in the Twin Cities this weekend and will throw what is described as "an extended bullpen session" today, then report to Double-A Chattanooga to continue his rehab assignment. The plan is for him to pitch three times, including one set of back-to-back days.

His rehab assignment officially expires on the 20th. He apparently expects to be back before then. Even with the bullpen roles unsettled, I wouldn't expect Perkins to step back into the ninth inning immediately. But then, I didn't expect Belisle to get the ball in the ninth inning after the Kintzler deal.

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