Friday, May 26, 2017

Widening the rotation

The Twins had an off-day Thursday. They have played 43 games so far; their opponent this weekend, the Tampa Bay Rays, have played 50. Nobody in baseball has played fewer games than the Twins to date.

The relative lack of games allowed manager Paul Molitor to sharply narrow his starting rotation this month. Ervin Santana, Hector Santiago and Phil Hughes have made every scheduled start (although Hughes went on the disabled list after his last start). Molitor has skipped a rotation spot at every opportunity and shuffled Jose Berrios (three starts this month), Kyle Gibson (two starts), Nick Tepesch (one start) and Aldberto Mejia (one start) in and out of the rotation and on and off the roster.

That approach is not going to work forever. The Twins have a shortfall of games played to make up in the remaining four months or so of the season, and the opportunities to skip a rotation spot will disappear.

Santana, Santiago and Berrios are the current givens in the rotation. Gibson is the current fourth, and while his leash is perceived to be short it's not obvious who will dislodge him. Sunday's starter has not, to my knowledge, been identified, but I expect it will be Mejia, which will require a roster move of some sort after Saturday's game.

Hughes' ailment has been announced as "biceps tendinitis," which I regard as the current term for "sore arm." (This is not to mock or deny the injury.) There is no public timeline for his return. Until he is ready to pitch again, I expect Mejia and Gibson to get the ball on a more regular basis. I have higher expectations for Mejia than for Gibson at this point. Molitor and the rest of the decision makers dearly want at least one of them to do something good with the opportunity,

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