Friday, August 30, 2013

The five seasons of Sam Deduno

Sam Deduno's walk rate in 2013
is much improved over 2012.
Sam Deduno was pulled from Thursday's game after three innings. It was the second time in two weeks that he had complaints of shoulder soreness, so I rather expect the Twins will shut him down for September. (Update: The Twins this morning put both Deduno and Wilkin Ramirez on the disabled list and recalled Pedro Hernandez and Darin Mastroianni).

If so, it caps a weird year for the right-hander, a five-part roller coaster that leaves his career perhaps no better off than when 2013 opened:

Season 1: The WBC. Deduno was a non-roster invitee to Twins camp and left early as a belated addition to the Dominican Republic pitching staff for the World Baseball Classic. I doubt anybody connected with the Twins expected Deduno to be the anchor man of the Dominican rotation. He went 3-0 and started the championship game for D.R.

He wasn't perfect in the WBC, but the event was a better platform for his rotation candidacy than the Grapefruit League would have been. Had he remained in Fort Myers, he might not have gotten enough work to win a spot. As it was, the WBC resume was strong enough that Deduno might even have gotten the Opening Day assignment, except that he returned to the Twins with a strained groin.

Season 2: Disabled list and minors. Deduno sat out April to let the groin heal, then made three starts in May for Rochester. He had a 2.70 ERA in those starts, and the Twins brought him back to Minnesota before the month ended.

Season 3: The ace. Through his first 13 starts with the Twins, Deduno was 7-4, 3.17. It wasn't a great BB/K ratio (33 walk, 47 strikeouts in 82.1 innings), but he kept the ball in the park (four homers allowed) and was easily the Twins most effective starter into August

Season 4: The August slump. The next five starts (including Thursday's) didn't go so well: 1-4, 5.96. Oddly, the walk/strikeout ratios were much better in this stretch (8 BB, 20K); but the BABIP -- batting average, balls in play -- went up about 90 points and the home run rate went from one long ball every 20 innings to one every six innings.

Season 5: The presumed shutdown. This is hardly official, but likely. We don't know if there's damage that will require surgery or if rest and rehab will fix the shoulder, but either way, I don't expect to see Deduno again this year. If he's done, he's done with an 8-8, 3.83 season in 108 innings over 18 starts — six innings a start.

And if the coming medical exams (LaVelle Neal of the Star Tribune predicted Deduno will have a MRI done) lead to surgery, it's entirely possible that the Twins will again remove him from the 40-man roster. Shoulders are tricky things to cut on.

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