Monday, May 6, 2013

Mike Pelfrey and the Potential Replacements

Mike Pelfrey struck out seven batters
Sunday, doubling his season total.
Mike Pelfrey had his best start of the still-young season Sunday, and he did so against a Cleveland team that is producing runs with anybody in the league.

He needed that strong outing. He entered the game with an ERA of 7.66, and pitchers with that kind of stat tend to lose their jobs. Even his six-inning, one-run Sunday left him with a 6.35 ERA, and that's not good either.

Pelfrey's potentially shaky status made all the more intriguing the list of starters working Sunday in the Twins minor league system:

  • For Triple A Rochester, the starter was Sam Deduno, hero of the World Baseball Classic. 
  • For Double A New Britain, it was Alex Meyer, the return in the Denard Span trade and generally regarded as the Twins top pitching prospect
  • For high A Fort Myers, it was Cole De Vries, who figured to be in the opening rotation before being injured at the end of spring training. (De Vries is on a rehab assignment.)
  • For low A Cedar Rapids, it was J.O. Berrios, the Puerto Rican teenager who is close to Meyer in status.

Berrios isn't going to pitch in the majors this year, but the other three all are real possibilities ... and having them aligned with Pelfrey makes it theoretically easy to flip any of them into his place if and when the Twins pull the plug on the veteran.

For the record:

  • Deduno went five innings, allowing one run. Four walks, four strikeouts, 89 pitches, 51 strikes. 
  • Meyer was knocked out of the box in the fifth inning, allowing five runs in 4.2 innings.
  • De Vires, making his first start since training camp, went just four innings. He allowed six hits and one run and was reportedly hit hard in the final inning.
  • Berrios went six innings, allowing two runs and striking out eight (no walks).

Even if the Twins were ready to pull the plug on Pelfrey, none of these guys are ready to step in right now. In a couple of weeks, it will be another story.

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