Wednesday, April 10, 2019

deGrom, De Jong and de manager

The prospect of facing Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in a two-game series in Queens was rather daunting; I would have been quite satisfied with a split. Now that the Twins have not only won the first game but battered the defending NL Cy Young winner -- well, rationally the split is still sufficient, but a sweep sounds a lot better.

If you were paying attention Tuesday night, you know how rare that game was. DeGrom had had 26 consecutive quality starts, tied with the 1968 version of Bob Gibson for most ever. His ERA last year was 1.70. And the Twins scored six earned runs in four innings off him. From the New York Post's Joel Sherman:

That was as many as he had permitted last July. Don’t look for the date — the whole month of July. That was as many as he allowed last August. That was one fewer than he let in last September. And it was six more than he had yielded in two starts to open 2019 ...
The Twins didn't pick on a punching bag Tuesday night. At least not until they got into the Mets bullpen.


Chase De Jong, handed the ninth inning mop-up duties, was awful. He walked three, gave up four earned runs and basically looked like he had no business back in the major leagues.

To be fair, he hadn't pitched in a while; he was supposed to have started the opener for the Rochester Red Wings, but they got weathered out, and then he was called up to provide length in the Minnesota bullpen after Jake Odorizzi stunk things up last Friday.

I said on Twitter that De Jong was pitching his way off the roster. But ... the Twins bullpen is still in pretty good shape. De Jong shouldn't be available after throwing more than 45 pitches in that ugly inning, but the rest of the bullpenners worked short stints. Taylor Rogers didn't pitch at all, and Trevor Hildenberger and Blake Parker faced just one man each.

And Rocco Baldelli apparently intends to get Martin Perez some innings in this series. My guess is that even if Odorizzi throws six scoreless innings today, Perez gets the ball for the seventh. After all, there's yet another offday on Thursday, and who knows what the weather holds for the homestand to follow.

So De Jong, who is out of options, might stick around after all. His lousy outing -- and it was lousy -- didn't stress the rest of the bullpen.


Baldelli could have gone for the length from Perez after Hildenberger got the Twins out of the fifth inning. In fact, that's what I expected. Instead, he pieced the rest of the game together with a pitcher use reminiscent of Ron Gardenhire's -- one inning from Trevor May, split an inning between Aldaberto Mejia and Parker, an inning from Ryne Harper, an inning from De Jong. Nobody but DeJong was used hard, and all should be available today.

But I suspect that Baldelli would prefer not to use any relievers today other than Perez and Rogers. He's not often used anybody on consecutive days so far, although there have been so many off days that we probably shouldn't draw any conclusions about his bullpen use patterns.

Assuming that he does go for length from Perez today, he will have handled the 'pen in this series as if we were still in spring training -- give everybody a little work to stay sharp, give Perez some length to stay stretched out for his eventual entry into the starting rotation. Doing those things and winning the games is ideal.


Multi-position man Marwin Gonzalez played a lot of first base with the Astros -- more than twice as many games, starts and innings at first than at third in his seven seasons with Houston.

Multi-position man Willians Astudillo entered Tuesday having played more third base in the majors than anywhere other than catcher and with just two innings at first in his brief big-league tenure.

But Baldelli on Tuesday started Gonzalez at third and Astudillo at first, La Tortuga's first big league start at that position. (Baldelli later took Gonzalez out in a double-switch, but Astudillo played the full game at first base.)

My interpretation of that: As long as Miguel Sano remains off the active roster, Gonzalez is primarily a third baseman. He has played four innings at first. He hasn't seen the outfield yet, and he hasn't been in the middle infield either.

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