Friday, March 25, 2016

That Triple A rotation

I took note about a week ago of Terry Ryan saying that the Twins might have more starters for Triple A Rochester than they have slots. He knew (naturally) what he was talking about.

Start with Jose Berrios, the team's top pitch prospect. Alex Meyer's major league future, if any, is probably in the bullpen, but he's going to start at Rochester to get innings. Taylor Rogers, who made 27 starts for Rochester last year and was sent out this week, figures to start there; so does Pat Dean, who also started 27 times for the Red Wings in 2015 and was part of the first wave of cuts. That's four.

We've accounted for four of the five rotation spots without figuring in any promotions for Double A Chattanooga -- which, you may recall, won the Southern League title. Some pitchers from the Lookouts might merit a move up the ladder, the most likely being Brett Lee and D.J. Baxendale.

Then there's Logan Darnell, who spent most of 2015 in the Red Wings bullpen but made seven strong starts at the end of the season. Darnell, a lefty, is still in major league camp as a non-roster invitee.

An added wild card in all this is Tyler Duffey, who has not had a good spring and may get squeezed out of the major league rotation despite his impressive finish to the 2015 season. One factor working against Duffey: He has options. The other starters do not.

It's possible that some team looking to plug a rotation hole would take Ricky Nolasco off the Twins hands. It's possible that the Twins will stick with Duffey and risk Nolasco's discontent with a bullpen assignment. It's also possible that the Twins will take the path of maximum flexibility and demote Duffey to start the season.

Remember: Teams have to expect to use at least eight starters over the course of a season. They have to have starting depth, and some of that depth has to be optionable. Duffey is optionable.

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