Monday, July 10, 2017

Contemplatng Tyler Duffey

It was the kind of situation Tyler Duffey had excelled at for most of this season: The starting pitcher (in this case Kyle Gibson) was struggling in the fifth inning, but the Twins were still in the game, down two with a man on and no outs. The obvious notion was for Duffey to work the fifth and sixth innings and keep the Twins in the game. This, as I have repeatedly observed, is Duffey's role on the staff.

But Duffey did not excel Sunday. Single, groundout, single, double. goundout,. fly out. Not only did the inherited runner score, but so did two more runs charged to Duffey, and the Twins were down five.

Duffey's ERA, as low as 2.10 on May 28,  is now 4.81. Sunday's appearance was the fifth straight in which he allowed at least two baserunners.

My sense is that Paul Molitor in the past month or so has tried to expand Duffey's role, to not only include the middle-relief multiple inning assignment but to be the primary right-handed setup guy. He has worked back-to-back days four times now this season, the first on May 28, so the no-rest outings have gome in this rough stretch.

This is the problem with a thin bullpen, that the reliable guys get used so much that they break. Perhaps four days off will revive Duffey. But even if Duffey bounces back, the Twins still need a righty Molitor can use in the seventh or eighth innings so Duffey can settle back into that fifth and sixth inning role.

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