Saturday, August 15, 2015

The decaying Twins pitching staff

Jose Berrios was
bypassed for a call-up
as the Twins
shuffle their rotation
this weekend.
Friday was the first day of a makeshift weekend for the Twins pitching staff.

The Twins knew for more than a week that they had a hole to fill this weekend. They had called up Tyler Duffey for a disastrous start against Toronto, then shipped him back to Triple A and used the Monday off day to hide the open slot in the rotation. That slot comes up today.

Then Phil Hughes was sidelined this week with an ailing back.

The curious solution: Trevor May, relegated to the bullpen almost six weeks ago and the apparent No. 2 man in the bullpen behind Glen Perkins, started Friday. Duffey, brought back from Triple A with Hughes going on the disabled list, starts today. And Tommy Milone, whose own stint on the disabled list started this whole sequence, is to start Sunday. (Who loses his roster spot to make room for Milone is unknown.)

That translates to a bullpen game, a second start for a yo-yo'd pitcher, and a return from injury. Oh my aching bullpen.

Two weeks ago the brain trust dismissed the notion of pulling May out of the bullpen in Milone's absence. After a month of one-inning stints, he was deemed unprepared for starts. I figured he was confined to the bullpen for the duration.

And now he starts. And, presumably, will start again in five days.

Curious, I say, especially since premier prospect Jose Berrios was lined up for Friday's start in Triple A. (He threw six no-hit innings for Rochester, then failed to retire anybody in a five-run seventh.)

Duffey is a decent prospect; Berrios is a better one. I'm sure the Twins have reasons to prefer Duffey right now, but I can't identify them.

Meanwhile, saving May for Friday's start created a late-inning hole in the bullpen on Thursday, when Texas scored in the eighth to break a tie and win. No guarantee that May would have held the Rangers down, but we know Casey Fien didn't.

In the abstract, I prefer May as a starter to May as a reliever. In this specific time and place, returning him to the rotation is probably a mistake.

Further depleting the bullpen depth, Blaine Boyer -- whose season has sharply decayed since May -- went on the shelf with an elbow issue. Michael Tonkin was recalled for his fourth stint with the Twins this season. This does not disturb me; I think Tonkin has more to offer than Boyer, Obviously, the people with the responsibility to make those decisions think otherwise. And Tonkin certainly didn't help his cause with his outing Friday.

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