Thursday, July 2, 2009

Henn down, Duensing up

The Twins today swapped out lefty relievers, recalling Brian Duensing (left) from Rochester and outrighting Sean Henn. Duensing opened the season with the Twins but didn't stick very long.

Two points.

1) The decision to waive Craig Breslow back in May looks worse and worse. Breslow, since joining Oakland, has an ERA of 2.30. More impressive, he has allowed 15 baserunners in 15 2/3 innings and struck out 14. In short, he's pitched the way he did last season with the Twins.

Henn offered more of a power arm, but little real idea of how to use it. Eight walks in 11 1.3 IP ?

Now Duensing gets his second chance to be the second lefty. Or something. Which leads me to point ...

2) Breslow, fairly or not, has gotten the LOOGY label. His numbers — last season and this — suggest he is capable of more than that, but both Ron Gardenhire and his manager in Oakland, Bob Geren, have used him as a specialist. (Thirteen of Breslow's 21 appearances for the A's have been for less than three outs.)

Jose Mijares, in contrast, is earning that label. His platoon splits this season are incredible. Left-handed hitters are helpless and right-handers are Cooperstown material. Last September he was a dominant arm; this year, a specialist.

Which makes him less of an eighth-inning option. He had just two outings in June in which he got three outs. Gardenhire now uses him as a LOOGY, to piece together innings.

Which, coming into the season, was Breslow's role. Which was supposed to be inherited by Henn.

My guess is that Duensing — who has been starting in Rochester without notable success— is not ticketed for a LOOGY role. I think he'll get the long relief/mop-up job that was first R.A. Dickey's and, for the past week or so, Bob Keppel's. If Matt Guerrier and Mijares are eight inning options A and A1, Dickey and Keppel are the choices for the sixth and seventh.

This isn't ideal. But impatience with Breslow, coupled with Mijares' inability to deal with right-handers, have put the Twins in this bind.

Those things, plus their inability/unwillingness to bring in a reliable reliever from outside the organization.

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