Saturday, September 12, 2015

A partial starting rotation

Paul Molitor's "starting rotation" appears to have essentially dissolved.

He used Thursday's off day to skip Tyler Duffey, who has thrown 170 innings this season, majors and minors, easily a career high. Phil Hughes is to start Tuesday after a month on the disabled list; Mike Pelfrey will be skipped, presumably on the basis that he's not very good. (If there is an arm on the staff the Twins should be careless with, it's Pelfrey's; he's a free agent to be, and they have plenty of replacement options available.)

What Molitor will do after that probably depends on what happens next week.

It's all reminding me of September 1987, when Tom Kelly kept Frank Viola and Bert Blyleven in regular rotation (but resisted the temptation to start them on short rest) and patched and filled around them. Les Straker, who had blister issues, pitched once a week. Steve Carlton spot started three times against Cy Young candidates (literally; his last three starts were against Teddy Higuera, Jack Morris and Bret Saberhagen). Kelly used a little Joe Niekro here, a little Mike Smithson there. A veteran minor leaguer named Jeff Bittiger started on Labor Day and won; Kelly didn't give him another start, which didn't make sense to me then and doesn't today,

Molitor is presumably anchoring Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone and the resurgent Ervin Santana and shuffling the deck around them. If the Twins wind up in a Game 163 for that second wild card, Santana would be eligible to pitch, because that would still be considered regular season. As part of his PED punishment, however, Santana is ineligible for the postseason.

Which, a couple of weeks ago. wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Three quality starts later, one wishes he would be available.

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