Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Duensing decision

Ron Gardenhire's declaration Wednesday that Brian Duensing would be in the starting rotation has implications not only for the beginning of ball games but for the makeup of the bullpen crew.

Brian Duensing: A
third starter determined.
Barring trade or disabling injury (one of which is completely in the control of management, the other largely out of their control), there was always going to be a putative starter shunted to the 'pen. We now know it will be a right-hander with little relief experience. I expect it to be Kevin Slowey, but even if it's Scott Baker or Nick Blackburn, the displaced starter is not likely to be fit into a short relief role.

This essentially forecloses the long man job for the bullpen candidates, and that probably hurts Jeff Manship most of all.

It also narrows the bullpen competition down to a second lefty and two middle relief spots, with at least one of those middle relief jobs going to a right-hander. It's possible for two of the trio of Scott Diamond, Dusty Hughes and Glen Perkins to win jobs, but not all three. 

The way the bullpen shapes up:

Closer: Joe Nathan
Set-up 1: Matt Capps
Primary LOOGY: Jose Mijares
Setup 2/Middle 1: open. (Pat Neshek, Jim Hoey, Anthony Slama ...)
Second lefty: open (Perkins, Hughes, Diamond)
Middle 2: open (the six above and more)
Long man: the displaced starter

Deciding now that Duensing will be in the rotation simplifies the bullpen decisions in this way: Gardenhire and Rick Anderson have just one puzzle to put together, not two.

And we'll resume our regularly scheduled bullpen candidate later today ...

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