Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Deciphering the bullpen

Glen Perkins is on the disabled list. So are Joe Nathan and Kevin Slowey. Jose Mijares was activated from the DL in time for Monday's game, although he did not pitch. Dusty Hughes is back in the minors, as is Jeff Manship.

That's six of the seven people who populated the Twins bullpen on Opening Day. Matt Capps, the last man standing.

I found it interesting that when Ron Gardenhire wanted a left-handed reliever in a game situation Monday — bases loaded, one out in the seventh with a tied score — he bypassed Mijares and went with Phil Dumatrait. And, equally interesting, Dumatrait got the Twins out of the inning unscored upon.

When Anthony Slama
gets into a game,
he will be the 15th Twin
used in relief this season.
That suggests that Dumatrait has moved ahead of Mijares in the pecking order and is staying there, at least until he fails.

Here's how I see the bullpen roles right now — recognizing that as people start coming off the DL, things are bound to change.

Closer: Capps
Setup1: Alex Burnett
Lefty 1: Dumatrait
Setup2/MR1: Jim Hoey
Lefty 2: Mijares
MR2: Anthony Slama
Long man: Chuck James

Pretty ugly. Slama was called up Monday when the Twins put Francisco Liriano on the disabled list; Anthony Swarzak gets at least one more start, probably two, out of this. (Slama may actually rank ahead of Hoey right now, since Slama hasn't failed yet.)

When the Twins called up James, they opened a spot on the 40-man roster by putting Tsuyoshi Nishioka on the 60-day disabled list. Nishioka is eligible to come back June 7. When he is ready, somebody will have to be taken off the 40. I have no shortage of deserving candidates for that, but considering how soured the Twins appear to be with Slowey, he may be the target.

Further complicating any attempt to divine ahead of time what the Twins will do: I have no idea of the option status of either James or Dumatrait. When Perkins is ready to return, it would figure that one of those two lefties will lose out. When Nathan is ready to return, I would think either Hoey or Slama will be optioned back to Rochester.

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