Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The bedraggled bullpen

Eight relief pitchers on the roster, and nobody reliable to use.

That was the situation Tuesday night when Paul Molitor asked a lefty specialist (Ryan O'Roarke) to bridge an inning and a Rule 5 pickup (J.R. Graham) to face Alex Rodriguez with the bases loaded.

Neither could handle the task, and the Twins' 4-1 lead turned into an 8-4 defeat.

The normal bullpen roles didn't apply Tuesday because  ,,,

  • Brian Duensing, Kevin Jepsen, Casey Fien and Glen Perkins had each worked three straight days;
  • Trevor May started three days earlier;
  • and Perkins was headed back to the Twin Cities to get an MRI on his neck.

That latter piece of news wasn't known until after the game, but the idea that Perkins had something physically wrong is hardly a shocker. He's been pitching of late as if something were awry.

Presumably May could have pitched Tuesday, but not three-plus innings. And the Twins needed 3.6 innings from the bullpen to win that game.

Molitor really needed seven innings (at least) from Mike Pelfrey, and Pelfrey couldn't finish six. Eleven outs was too many to ask from from the likes of O'Roarke, Graham and A.J. Achter, and despite Dick Bremer's play-by-play call, the resulting implosion was completely believable.

Terry Ryan wasn't at Yankee Stadium to see it. He was with the Chattanooga Lookouts watching another piece of the bullpen design struggle. Nick Burdi, the 2014 second-rounder who I really expected would be in Minnesota by now, got the ball Tuesday night and ...

Burdi. J.T. Chargois. Zach Jones. Jake Reed. Even Alex Meyer. The Twins have a handful of high-velocity, high-draft-pick arms in the minors, and none of them are performing.

It's a mess. And with Perkins sidelined for however long, it isn't going to get better.

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