Saturday, July 6, 2013

The sixth starter

P.J. Walters, having been designated for assignment, is now in baseball limbo. He's not officially in the Twins organization, but if nobody claims him on waivers, he can be outrighted to Triple A.

At the moment, the Twins' rotation features, in alphabetical order, Kevin Correia, Sam Deduno, Scott Diamond, Kyle Gibson and Mike Pelfrey. (It will be interesting to see how Ron Gardenhire lines them up coming out of the All-Star break; my guess is that Gibson will be at the end of the line.)

Considering that there's about half the season yet to play, the odds are that bunch will change. If Walters isn't a candidate to move back into the rotation, who is?

The possibilities include:

Pedro Hernandez

Status: 40-man roster, pitching in Rochester
Comment: Hernandez has made seven starts in the majors for the Twins (3-1, 5.54) and six for Rochester (2-2, 3.60). If he has a major league career ahead of him, it's probably as a relief pitcher. He'd be a safe place-holder, but that's all.

Cole De Vries was
5-5, 4.11 in his
time with the Twins
in 2012.

Cole De Vries

Status: 40-man roster, pitching in Rochester
Comment: The Minnesota native would have opened 2013 in the major league rotation but ran into arm issues. He's made nine starts in Rochester and has gone 3-4, 8.16, with just 19 strikeouts in 43 innings. Hard to see him being close to a callup.

Liam Hendriks

Status: 40-man roster, pitching in Rochester
Comment: The Aussie opened with the big club and went down quickly. He dominated the International League last year but has fallen off this year (1-6, 5.05). His status isn't high.

Vance Worley 

Status: 40-man roster, pitching in Rochester
Comment: He's 5-3, 3.81 since his demotion, which looks pretty good compared to his fellow 40-man roster mates. But it comes with just 30 strikeouts in 52 innings. I do expect him to return to the major league rotation this year, but that's more because of what the Twins have invested in him than because he's earned it.
Minor league veteran
Andrew Albers pitched
for Team Canada
in the WBC.

Andrew Albers

Status: Not on the 40-man roster, pitching in Rochester
Comment: Lefty from Canada, he was just named to the IL all-star team (8-3, 3.00 with 86 K in 99 innings). He's 27 and has spent more time in his career in relief than starting, but he's been a fixture in the Red Wings rotation and is having a fine season. I don't see him as a likely long-term rotation candidate.

Logan Darnell

Status: Not on the 40-man roster, pitching in Rochester
Comment: Another lefty, he has made one start for the Red Wings after a strong first half with Double A New Britain (6-6, 2.61). He's 24, and this is by far his best minor league performance. Probably behind Albers in terms of getting a chance.

Nick Blackburn:
Forgot he was still
around, didn't you?

Nick Blackburn

Status: Not on the 40-man roster; on rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League
Comment: He makes the list only because he's getting $5.5 million this year, which I believe makes him the Twins' highest-paid pitcher. He's gotta do something in the minors before the Twins will consider letting him try to earn some of his pay in the majors, and I don't think it's real likely. No future benefit from his return; the Twins won't exercise his $8 million option for 2014.

Alex Meyer

Status: Not on the 40; currently on disabled list
Comment: Was shut down with a shoulder issue last month; the Twins say there's no structural damage, but caution is being exercised anyway. Probably the best pitching prospect in the organization, he's 3-3, 3.69 in Double A New Britain with 73 strikeouts in 61 innings. Won't get a callup this year. (Came to Twins in the Denard Span trade.)

Trevor May came
to the Twins in the
Ben Revere trade.

Trevor May

Status: On the 40, pitching in New Britain
Comment: Some good signs from May as he repeats Double A (6-5, 3.98 with 93 K in 95 innings). The control is improving, although his season walk rate (3.9 BB/9) is still too high. He might be a September callup, since he's already on the 40, but he's not going to be yo-yo'd up and down. Expect patience with him. 

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