Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Getting outs

A few observations, and maybe some conclusions, about pitching ....

1. Michael Pineda can be really tough to watch. That was certainly the case Tuesday night when he gave up three runs in the first inning while working at a glacial pace. Given the time zone difference on a Tuesday night, I would imagine that there are a lot of the Twins fans surprised this morning to find the Twins won.

1A. Pineda's final line -- three runs allowed in six innings -- supports my Monday print column conclusion earlier this month: He may not be a Cy Young contender, but there are a lot of teams that would love to have a fifth starter like him.

2. Were either Bert Blyleven or Jack Morris doing this road trip on FSN, they would be doing conniption fits. On Monday Jake Odorizzi threw five shutout innings and was relieved without facing a batter in the sixth; he told reporters that he encouraged manager Rocco Baldelli to pull him. The Twins bullpen allowed one run in four innings and the Twins won 3-1, although Odorizzi didn't get credit for the win.

On Tuesday the Angels' Trevor Cahill threw five scoreless innings, then gave up a leadoff double to Max Kepler.  Brad Ausmus pulled him, and the Twins quickly went double-homer to tie the game off his successor.

We've all heard Blyleven and Morris say the manager would have had to fight them to pull them from a shutout. But Odorizzi and Cahill are veteran starters with well-established histories as five-and-fly gues. They aren't 200-inning machines, as Blyleven and Morris were decades ago. 

Baldelli and Ausmus handled them properly. The difference is that Baldelli's bullpen got the job done on Monday (and Tuesday); Ausmus' did not.

3. Part of the bullpen meltdown for the Angels was Luke Bard. Bard was drafted and signed by the Twins out the the same draft in which they landed Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios; he was prominent in a group of college closers the Twins drafted that year (2012), many of whom the Twins sought to make starters.

Most of them washed out, although the Twins still have Tyler Duffey. Bard spent a lot of his time in the Twins system on the shelf, and even when healthy they showed little real interest in pushing him to the majors. The Angels took him in the Rule 5 draft last year and carried him for part of the season before returning him to the Twins; then they signed him as a minor league free agent.

He was hardly great Tuesday night -- four runs, all earned, in one inning -- and was charged with the loss. The Angels' defense did him no favors, but that was only part of the problem.

I would like him to make the Twins regret not giving him a major league opportunity. I doubt he will.

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