Thursday, May 28, 2009

Working the bullpen

The print column two weeks ago suggested that Ron Gardenhire was overworking the few relievers he trusted.

Here's an update:

In the past week — starting with the 20-1 shellacking of the Chicago White Sox that ended a bizarre road trip (the Twins went 1-6 while outscoring their opponents) — the Twins played seven games, going 6-1.

They've used Joe Nathan four times, twice in save situations, the other two just to get him some work.

Jose Mijares had pitched three times, getting one hold.

Matt Guerrier has pitched three times, getting two holds.

Jesse Crain, the fourth guy Gardy was using in game situations, has not worked at all, suggesting that he (a) pitched his way into the doghouse and/or (b) is not fully recovered from the arm issue that landed him on the DL.

Luis Ayala has pitched once. He got one out, gave up two hits, and came out.

Sean Henn, who relieved Ayala, has pitched twice. (He replaced Craig Breslow on the roster; Breslow has since pitched four times for Oakland, taking one loss but lowering his ERA from 6.28 to 5.40.)

R.A. Dickey has pitched once, a four inning stint that was a perfect example of his role.

In that week, the Twins bullpen has been charged with three runs allowed (one each for Mijares, Guerrier and Dickey) in 15.1 innings, a 1.76 ERA. Only one of those runs (Dickey's) can be said to have had an impact on the outcome, and even that one didn't look significant at the time. The bullpen has not blown a lead.

And, perhaps most important, the key guys — Nathan, Mijares and Guerrier — haven't been overexposed.

Still, the Twins need at least one more useful arm, preferably two — and that's assuming that Henn proves a fit as a LOOGY.

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