Thursday, March 24, 2016

More pitching developments

Taylor Rogers was
a bullpen candidate
this spring but is likely
to start for Triple A
Rochester to open 2016.
The Twins did indeed whittle down their potential bullpen crew Wednesday. Lefty Buddy Boshers was reassigned to minor league camp; lefty Taylor Rodgers and righty J.R. Graham were optioned out. (The Twins also reassigned three position players -- catcher Carlos Paulino and infielders Buck Britton and Wilfredo Tovar -- and now have 37 in major league camp.)

Boshers' departure is no surprise. Graham, who spent last season on the major league roster as a Rule 5 guy, no longer has that protection; if anything, I am surprised it took this long for the Twins to send him out. Rogers, on the other hand, I genuinely thought would wind up coming north.

The Twins also on Wednesday outrighted Mike Strong, the Minnesota-born lefty they sent out in the first wave of cuts. This opens a slot on the 40-man roster, and the expectation is that it will be filled by Fernando Abad, veteran lefty reliever in camp as a non-roster invitee.

Let's slot Abad into the projected bullpen I posted Wednesday morning:

Closer: Glen Perkins
Fernando Abad
has allowed one
run in 6.1 innings
in Grapefruit
League games.
Setup 1: Kevin Jepsen
Setup 2: Trevor May
MR 1: Casey Fien
LOOGY 1: Fernando Abad?
MR 2: Open
Long man: Ricky Nolasco?

Which brings us, more or less, to Nolasco. Nolasco threw six shutout innings in the major league game, albeit against a minor league lineup. (The Rays took their major league lineup to Havana on Tuesday, then spent seven hours trapped on the tarmac by mechanical issues and ultimately arrived back in Port Charlotte around 5 a.m.) Tyler Duffey also pitched to a minor league lineup in a minor league game and got lit up.

Nolasco has now pitched 13.1 innings in Grapefruit League play to a 4.05 ERA, Duffey, 8.1 innings, 6.48 (minor league games such as Wednesday's not included). It would be foolish to judge the two on the basis of less than 23 combined innings; of more significance would be how their stuff looks, the quality of competition, what they're working on, and so forth.

The Twins entered camp with three starters written into their rotation in ink (Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson and Phil Hughes) and one more in pencil (Duffey). Duffey has spluttered this spring, in part, perhaps, because he is trying to develop a straight change. There is speculation that the eraser is out for Duffey's rotation berth. 

I can see some silver linings to that development, but it is not my first choice, and it probably isn't the Twins' preference either.

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