Monday, August 20, 2018

Given the finger ...

The Twins returned Ervin Santana to the disabled list during the weekend. The post-surgical middle finger clearly wasn't up to the demands of major league pitching.

Presumably this is it for Santana as a Twin. He gave the Twins two solid seasons, one useless one, and one solid half-season marred by a steroid suspension.

I'm not down on him for this useless one. He did what he could with the injury last year and did what he could with the digit in rehab this year. He said something a couple of starts ago about giving the team 100 percent of what he had, and I accept that.

No, it's 2015 that still sticks in my craw. Who knows what that team would have accomplished had he not missed half the season with a self-inflicted banishment? The Twins were in the wild-card hunt right up to the end.


Two pitching moves over the weekend: Stephen Gonsalves comes up to replace Santana in the rotation -- he starts tonight against the White Sox -- and the Twins sub in Alan Busenitz for Tyler Duffey.

Gonsalves is an intriguing prospect. The fastball velocity is not overwhelming, the breaking ball is apparently mediocre, and the control record is not good. But he is absurdly difficult to hit. He has a good changeup, and the fastball is said to have a high spin rate, which apparently is an objective measurement that aligns with the old-school description of "sneaky fast."

He was taken in the same draft as Kohl Stewart but three rounds later and was generally moved up the ladder more slowly. But he was better than Stewart on every level.

I'm glad to see him up here now. I'm considerably more optimistic about Gonsalves's chances to be a useful major league starter than I am about Stewart.

As for the bullpen move: The Monday print column examines the current state of experimentation in the Twins bullpen. The trades of Fernando Rodney, Ryan Pressly and Zach Duke opened three significant roles in the relief corps, and with the exception of lefty specialist -- Taylor Rogers assumes that role and Gabriel Moya slides into Rogers' old slot -- Paul Molitor is holding open auditions.

It's a rather long column as these things go, and I didn't bother mentioning either Busenitz or Duffey. Thye're both clearly behind Trevor May, Trevor Hildenberger and Matt Magill, and probably, absurd as it sounds, behind Oliver Drake as well.

Which doesn't mean either can't pitch their way into the Twins plans. It just means they're behind in the competition.

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