Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Reshaping the staff once again

Brian Duensing's tenure in the
starting rotation lasted four starts.
Matt Capps, back to the disabled list.

Nick Blackburn, back to the majors and the rotation.

Brian Duensing, back to the bullpen.

The only part of this I truly like is Duesning in a relief role. I went into some detail on this just the other day, so I won't rehash the reasons. I thought this would happen at some point, but I didn't expect it to happen so soon.

Blackburn's return was inevitable; the Twins aren't paying him $4.75 million to pitch in Triple A. He's to start Friday. I don't really foresee any change from what happened before his demotion; while his ERA for Rochester was 2.57, he struck out just seven men in 21 innings. He got hit before, he'll get hit again.

Capps made just two low-leverage appearances after his first disabled list stint; his velocity was down, and he gave up a homer in the second appearance on Monday night. He won't be eligible to come off the DL until the trade deadline; he's not getting moved anywhere this month.

Capps has become a popular scapegoat, and unfairly so. Some won't forgive him for the price the front office paid to get him; some won't forgive him for re-upping with the Twins last winter. It's silly-stupid to blame him for either move; if Terry Ryan-Bill Smith-Ron Gardenhire overvalue him, that's not Capps' fault.

He's a decent relief pitcher when healthy. He hasn't been healthy all the time. And it's truly obnoxious to hear the same people who criticize Joe Mauer for sitting when he's hurt rip Capps for pitching when he's hurt.

With Capps out of the picture indefinitely, it appears Glen Perkins and Jared Burton will continue to share the closer duties.

One thing to watch now is how Tyler Robertson and Duensing are used. Robertson has held the LOOGY role while Duensing was in the rotation, and had some good moments and some bad. I was impressed Monday with how well Robertson handled Jim Thome after Gardenhire had him intentionally walk J.J. Hardy in the sixth inning.

Retiring lefties is Robertson's forte; it is also Duensing's.

When Duensing was inserted into the rotation, righties had an OPS (on-base-plus-slugging) of just .645 against him. Today their OPS against Duensing is .909.

The Twins have a new surplus of left-handed relievers. How much value there is in that remains to be seen.

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