Thursday, June 25, 2015

12 pitchers and Santanas in waiting

Michael Tonkin
is back on the
Rochester shuttle.
The Twins demoted relief pitcher Michael Tonkin after Wednesday's game and will bring up an additional hitter before resuming play Friday in Milwaukee. Six games in National League parks, which means six games without the DH, which means more pinch-hitters are likely to be needed.

This is the first time in a month or so that the Twins have pared the pitching staff down to 12 arms. Beleaguered lefties Brian Duensing (8.22 ERA for the season) and Aaron Thompson (5.40) remain, although to what purpose is uncertain, Duensing hasn't been used in a win since June 4. Thompson's June ERA is 15.42, and six of the last eight men to face him have gotten hits or walks.

It may be that the hitter the Twins bring up today will go back down when Ervin Santana comes off his suspension nine games from now, but that would mean not only returning to a 13-man staff (plausible) but moving one of the current starters to the bullpen (less so).

But that's a problem to solve next week. Today the Twins have to settle on a bat to bring up, and it will presumably be somebody already on the 40-man roster. While they have an open slot on the 40, that's earmarked for Santana.

Position players on the 40 but not now on the 25-man roster:

Oswaldo Arcia, Doug Bernier, Aaron Hicks (DL), Max Kepler, Josmil Pinto, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Danny Santana.

Pinto would be a reasonable pinch-hitter choice, but as far as I know he's still sidelined by his concussion issues. Arcia, after 22 games in Rochester, is hitting .192/.233/.295; he's not coming up. Kepler and Sano, both in Double A, have strong call-up cases, but I don't think the Twins are bringing either up for a reserve role. Hicks is to start a rehab assignment in Triple A Friday and still has a few days he has to spend on the DL anyway.

My guess: Santana. He played a game in the outfield the other day for Rochester, which might mean something in this context. He's hitting .308/.343/.492. If Paul Molitor sticks him back at shortstop, Eduardo Nunez either plays outfield or becomes a pinch hit option. The same set of possibilities exist for Polanco or Bernier, but Santana is probably higher on the totem pole than either of them.

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