Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Michael Pineda, Devin Smeltzer and the roster

Michael Pineda had on Monday what has become a standard Michael Pineda start -- six innings, three runs. He made five starts in May and allowed three earned runs in each. Three were six innings, one was five, one was seven.

Three earned runs in six innings is a minimal quality start. It's not wining him any Cy Young awards, but it's certainly acceptable from the back of the rotation. The Twins are just 5-6 in Pineda's 11 starts -- the bullpen gave up the lead he bequeathed Monday -- and his ERA remains over 5, but I wouldn't be eager to discard him.

So when the Twins put him on the injured list Tuesday morning with right knee tendinitis, I agreed with the social media theory that the Twins were taking advantage of a scheduling quirk to give Pineda a short break. (Pineda had surgery on that knee last September.) The idea going around Twitter was:

  • Devin Smeltzer gets Tuesday's start and is immediately optioned back to Triple A.
  • Nelson Cruz comes off the DL for Thursday's game in St. Petersburg against the Rays.
  • Luis Arraez is optioned out during the weekend when Mitch Garver is ready to return
  • With two off days in the offing (one of them today), the Twins don't need the fifth starter until Pineda is eligible to return.

That seemed a logical sequence of moves.

But after Smeltzer threw six highly efficient shutout innings on Tuesday, Rocco Baldelli signaled a different plan:

So no, I don't know what they have in mind. At some point soon, Cruz and Garver are coming back. Pineda doesn't figure to be out long. And the roster is jammed with productive players. It's a good probem.

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