Saturday, August 2, 2014

Sorting out the rotation choices

The red jersey didn't help Logan Darnell
(Darnell Logan to Dan Gladden)
in his second start.
He didn't get much help from the fielders, but Logan Darnell wasn't good Friday night in his second major league start. The lefty wasn't good in his first start either.

The Twins have given 25 starts so far to Darnell, Mike Pelfrey, Sam Deduno, Yohan Pino, Kris Johnson and Anthony Swarzak, none of whom seem likely to ever decorate the rotation of a contender. Meanwhile Trevor May, Alex Meyer and now Tommy Milone (who has twice been a rotation regular for a division champ and is 27) fill their Triple A rotation. 

There have been reasons for this, but it is aggravating to see opportunities directed to low-ceiling guys like Pino and Darnell  instead of the pitchers who might actually matter. Milone started two days before the trade, so his presence on the Rochester roster at this moment doesn't matter, but there is no good reason to have him actually pitch for the Red Wings while Darnell and Pino start in the majors. Yet that is apparently the plan.

The failure/inability to prune Kevin Correia from the roster at the trading deadline keeps a rotation spot filled with deadwood. Ricky Nolasco is to begin a rehab assignment next week (he and Joe Mauer will both be with the Cedar Rapids Kernels by Tuesday), and once he's ready to go, he'll certainly be in the rotation. There's too much invested in him. 

This team with a miserable rotation is pretending that there's no room for the kids. And it's not going to get better.

Consider the 2015 starting rotation possibilities on hand. Assume that (a) Correia is not re-signed; (b) the pitchers all are healthy and (c) there are no other additions or subtractions -- the first is likely, the latter two are not -- and the Twins have:

  • Nolasco. He has three more years on his contract.
  • Phil Hughes. No argument there.
  • Kyle Gibson. He's been inconsistent, but by some measures he's been more effective than Hughes.
  • Milone. Not a Cy Young candidate, but he has 2.5 years in the Oakland rotation without jeopardizing their status.
  • Pelfrey, with one year and $5.5 million left on his contract. 

As matters stand, they don't even need the low-upside fillers (Johnson, Pino, Darnell) to block the high-end prospects next spring. Yikes.

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