Friday, July 17, 2015

Contemplating the DH and bench situations

Miguel Sano had 23 total bases in his first 10 games
as Minnesota's designated hitter. Kennys Vargas, the team's
most-used DH, had 34 in 29 games.
I find this odd: The Twins have added a position player (and subtracted a pitcher) to the roster at the same time that manager Paul Molitor appears to have settled on a basic eight-man lineup.

Molitor spent much of May and June shuffling his outfielders, designated hitter and shortstop. Torii Hunter played most games, but sat some (no surprise at his age) and DH'ed at least once a week.

The apparent emergence of Miguel Sano as the designated hitter figures to limit the use of Hunter -- and Eduardo Nunez and Eduardo Escobar as well -- in that role. The Twins multi-headed DH has been a bit below average. (The league slash line for designated hitters this season: .265/.333/.433. The Twins' DH slash line: .264/.324/.401, boosted sharply by Sano's 10 games)

Right now, Molitor's default lineup appears to be: Kurt Suzuki catching; Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe and Danny Santana in the infield; Eddie Rosario, Aaron Hicks and Hunter in the outfield; and Sano at DH.

Which would seem to point to less playing time and fewer at-bats for Escobar, Nunez and Shane Robinson. (The second catcher, currently Eric Fryer, hasn't been part of the lineup shuffle.) Meanwhile, the beleaguered bullpen bridge between the starters and closer Glen Perkins is down an arm from its accustomed numbers.

Theoretically, I prefer fewer pitchers and more position players on the roster. But if Molitor doesn't have a use for everybody on the bench and has an overworked bullpen, the roster is out of balance. I suspect that it won't be long before the Twins return to a 13-man pitching staff. The question for me is, which bench guy goes to make room?

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