Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Perkins question

Another shortish start Tuesday night -- Bartolo Colon went just five innings and was fortunate to escape with just three runs allowed -- and another game in which the "nonleverage" half of the Twins bullpen struggled to get outs. Specifically Buddy Boshers, who allowed three runs in one-third of an inning to turn a 3-1 deficit to 6-1.

Boshers, of course, is left-handed; so is Glen Perkins, who was in the Twins dugout Tuesday night after pitching Sunday and Monday for Double A Chattanooga. The back-to-back outings were, in theory, the final marker in his rehab schedule. The 30 days of his rehab assignment ends Saturday.

The former All-Star expects to be activated this week. Derek Falvey indicated last week that he would be. Paul Molitor's pre-game comments on Perkins seemed unenthusiastic about his return: “We’ll contemplate what the best move is moving forward, not only for him, but for our team.”

Bert Blyleven, back in the TV booth. suggested Tuesday that the Twins could just wait until the rosters expand to bring Perkins back. With the rehab period nearly expired, that's not really an option.

The realistic choices are:

  • activate Perkins, which will require somebody to come off the 25-man active roster (there are open spots on the 40) or
  • release him.
Releasing him won't save the team any money, and would be a pretty sour way to treat him at the end of a long recovery process.

For what it's worth -- and that isn't much -- Perkins put up a 6.14 ERA in 7.1 innings over three levels in eight games on the rehab assignment. More important than those results is the caliber of his pitches.

Perkins reportedly touched 93 with his fastball velocity in his final outings, but he apparently sits around 90. That's quite a bit lower than in his glory days, but pretty impressive considering how badly his shoulder was damaged.

Velocity is only part of the equation. Also to be factored in are his command (or lack of it) and the quality of his slider. (Perkins as been a a two-pitch pitcher since moving to the bullpen.) If he has limited command of a diminished fastball and an unreliable breaking ball, he can't help the big league team. If he has a usable slider and can locate the mediocre velocity, he can.

Boshers was optioned out at the start of the season, so he can be optioned out now. It's not like replacing him with Perkins for the last two weeks or so of August will cripple Molitor's bullpen strategies, and it's not like activating Perkins will require that he step back into the (vacant) closer's role, or even be used in game situations. (Twenty of Boshers' 26 appearances have come with the Twins behind, and three of the other six have come with a lead of four or more runs.)

I say activate Perkins. It may not help, but it won't hurt, and it's the right thing to do.

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