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May Day is Coming for the Twins

The Minnesota Twins are anxiously awaiting a couple of reinforcements for their big league club. Jason Castro is not coming back, and Jorge Polanco remains out for some time. Trevor May’s return is quickly approaching however, and Ervin Santana shouldn’t be far behind him. When focusing on the righty venturing back from Tommy John surgery, it’s worth taking a look to see where he fits.
Image courtesy of © Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
At this point, May has made two rehab starts in the Twins organization. His first came for Fort Myers and he went 3.0 IP allowing no runs on one hit, three walks and five strikeouts. He then made the jump up to Triple-A Rochester and tossed 4.0 IP allowing one run on three hits while walking two and striking out five. The strikeouts are an encouraging tally, while the walks highlight some lack of control as he settles back onto the mound.

Regardless of the numerical results, what we do know is that May has made two starts in which he’s thrown 58 and 60 pitches respectively. He’s being stretched out to start, but the lack of growth between outings suggests that Minnesota is OK with drawing out the process some. Currently on the 60 day DL, May is first eligible for activation on May 28.

Rochester is currently scheduled to play 11 games from now until May 28. With that schedule in mind, the Twins hurler should get two more turns in the rotation prior to his opportunity to be activated. I find it somewhat interesting that the pitch count wasn’t increased a bit further in his start for Rochester, but that number will be one worth monitoring in his next couple of outings.

Going forward, there’s a collision course with a decision that Minnesota will need to make. Once May is eligible to be activated, where does he go?

My first thought, and I think the one that suits him best, is to immediately take over for Phil Hughes in the bullpen. Hughes is holding down a spot that’s been virtually used to waive the white flag in games, and has all but reduced the Twins usable relievers by one. Allowing May to go multiple innings keeps him primed for a spot start if necessary, and he provides a significant upgrade to a bullpen that could use some added length.

Used exclusively as a reliever for the Twins in 2016, May posted a career best 95 mph average velocity on his fastball. That’s over a full mph faster than he was able to register as a starter. The 8.7 K/9 average over his first two seasons also took a big jump to 12.7 as a reliever in 2016. Command and control have both evaded May at times, and his 3.6 BB/9 during his last full season with the Twins would be less than ideal out of the rotation.

Over the course of his career thus far, we haven’t seen anything that screams May needs to be written into the rotation with a pen. The stuff is good, but it’s also been underwhelming at times. That being said, he has also been victimized as a product of his environment. Despite a career 5.14 ERA, he’s posted a 3.71 FIP across 203.0 IP. May generates ground balls just over one-third of the time, and he gives up hard contact less than that amount. Either way, it’s a formula that should work just fine in front of a much improved Twins defense.

Sometime in July, the Twins will be tasked with adding Ervin Santana back into the fold as well. It’s at that point that I think juggling the rotation makes more sense. While Lance Lynn has been nothing short of a train wreck, it’s pretty difficult to cast aside a career 3.53 ERA and 8.5 K/9 because of eight starts in a new uniform. Minnesota is going to pull out all of the stops to get that figured out, but putting May in that spot doesn’t jump off the page as being the right answer.

I don’t have a problem with Minnesota keeping Trevor May on a starting track through his recovery. Yes, it likely increases the time frame, but it also gives both the pitcher and the ball club options going forward. Without any certainties as to what type of pitcher he’s going to be in the short term (and really still feeling out his long term abilities), allowing Trevor to fire bullets in brief bursts seems like a smart decision.

At the end of the day, the Twins pitching depth will grow even a bit more in the coming weeks, and that’s something that all involved have to be excited about. Trevor May is going to be welcomed back with open arms; it just shouldn’t be assumed that his place will be in the rotation.

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80 Comments

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Winston Smith
May 17 2018 05:43 PM

You kind of have to see how he pitches before you can find a fit. Not every pitcher comes ready sometimes it takes time..

    • tarheeltwinsfan and SF Twins Fan like this

Do you think the Twins are ready to cut bait on Hughes and his salary?

With starters rarely going passed 6 innings I think guys like May are perfect to be given the ball and told you get one time through the entire batting order. Get us as deep as possible. Then he's given the next day or 2 off. Everytime in that's his role.
    • Danchat, TNTwinsFan and caninatl04 like this
Nothing wrong with your logic here but have to bring up 2 points:

1] May had been a starter his entire career until his move to the pen in 2015. It should have been Pelfrey as May was pitching well at the time and showing real improvement with the exception of a clunker, as I recall. Further, he was looking very good in ST 2017 as a starter before his injury.

2] He had back issues when pitching out of the pen in 2016, and that has been at least partially attributed to the workload and routine change from being a reliever.
    • Dantes929, Danchat, LA VIkes Fan and 8 others like this

Do not see May in a starting role.Whose place does he take and what do the Twins do when Santana returns.Plus Twins need starters to go 6 - 7 innings Santana and Berrios will give them that at least some of the time. Rest of the staff has more issues getting there though I think Romero will give them 6 most of the time.  

If May is a starter, seems strange to move Lynn to the pen and cut Hughes.I am assuming Hughes will be cut at some point in time, just do not know when.

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Brock Beauchamp
May 17 2018 09:27 PM

 

With starters rarely going passed 6 innings I think guys like May are perfect to be given the ball and told you get one time through the entire batting order. Get us as deep as possible. Then he's given the next day or 2 off. Everytime in that's his role.

That's good in theory but rarely works in practice. You might go 5-6 days of getting 5+ innings out of your starters. You won't give a single reliever three innings in any of those appearances and May rusts on the bench. The reason you don't give one reliever three innings in that situation is because the game is usually close at that point and you want to use matchups to notch another win. If your starter goes 5+ and the game isn't close, you're probably kicking the other team's ass so it doesn't matter.

 

On the other hand, you might get a couple of three inning starts in a 2-3 day span. You can't use the same guy for three innings that close together, either. And if your starter goes three innings, you're probably getting your ass kicked so, once again, it doesn't matter.

 

The reality is that long men don't get regular work. There's a reason why long men are the back of the bullpen and very rarely a good pitcher. You use them when you need innings en masse and don't want to waste all those days off on a pitcher who can actually get hitters out on a regular basis.

    • glunn, Sssuperdave, DocBauer and 1 other like this

It was a mistake putting him in the pen the first time and it would be an even bigger mistake this time.  

 

Solid starters are hard to come by (just ask Lynn if you don't believe me)....bullpen arms can be acquired an/or signed much easier. 

 

If May is sharp and the FO is concerned that they will aspirate on the sunk money to Hughes and Lynn, then he should START in AAA until someone comes to their senses.  

 

If a chain needs to be yanked, yank the flailing veteran on a one year contract, not the chain of someone that could be part of a long term winning team

    • pbrezeasap, Sssuperdave, LA VIkes Fan and 9 others like this

I think May can be a solid contributor.  I don't think there is any rush.  Right now we are riding a wave of a 23 year old, 22 year old, and a huge under performer who is may have figured some things out.  I imagine Santana won't be ready to go in June right away either?

 

I think things will play out by the time Santana is ready and eventually May.  If our current staff continues to pitch well then we will have to think about May in the bullpen, which I am not in favor of.  If anything we will have excellent depth.

    • DocBauer likes this

It was mentioned in a thread yesterday about Castro but I'll suggest it again: see if there's a taker for Lynn. Maybe he needs to go back to the NL? That's where he was apparently most comfortable; maybe he needs that pitcher's spot in the batting order to come up every couple innings to give him an easy out.

 

Even better if that NL team has a surplus veteran catcher who's known for his defense and can come in and mentor Garver like Castro was (and Wilson is) but who has a little better stick than Wilson. I don't know the league well enough to know if there's a good fit out there.

    • glunn and LA VIkes Fan like this

Okay, I've done some searching (as any good GM should). Pittsburgh looks like they could use a 5th starter. Their backup C, Elias Diaz, isn't exactly a vet, but he is known for his defense, and he seems to have a bit of a stick too. Final checkbox: he's stuck behind a solid starter (Cervelli). Go get him. This game is pretty easy. ;-)

    • glunn, LA VIkes Fan, tarheeltwinsfan and 2 others like this

 

Nothing wrong with your logic here but have to bring up 2 points:

1] May had been a starter his entire career until his move to the pen in 2015. It should have been Pelfrey as May was pitching well at the time and showing real improvement with the exception of a clunker, as I recall. Further, he was looking very good in ST 2017 as a starter before his injury.

2] He had back issues when pitching out of the pen in 2016, and that has been at least partially attributed to the workload and routine change from being a reliever.

Yeh, I remember being perilously close to being enraged when the Pelf/May decision came down.I really do think it led to the troubles May has had since, and well, we all know the troubles Pelf gave the Twins...

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Original Whizzinator
May 18 2018 03:42 AM
As per above I am firmly in this camp. That was a bad move when May went to the pen when he did. I was not happy at the time. Big Pelf should have been let go. The Twins had a promising thing going with May and screwed it up. Their handling of him did his development no favors. Plus his body clearly responds better to a starter's routine. Here we are again. Another bad contract, Hughes, two flagging vets owed a huge, obscene pile of cash costing us wins. What something around 36m? What will happen...? This is a tough situation made by multiple bad decisions. The Lynn signing was a move I approved of. The Hughes extension and the handling of May are two things I would never have done. The one thing in the Twins favor is that May has options. On top of that he is not far enough removed from TJ that you can count on him yet. He needs time to get his feel, heck he needed time for that before the surgery. I say keep Hughes where he is for now. I would love to swap May and Lynn but this is the tough part. If Lynn could be moved that would be fantastic. If not we signed what 5 new pitchers? If one flopped and had to be dumped that's not too bad. JUST DO IT!!! Then let may compete with Gonsalves, Mejia and Slegers etc for the #5 (#6 if Santana is ready and no-one gets hurt.
    • 3balls2strikes likes this
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JaleelWhite FanClub
May 18 2018 07:31 AM

I agree May should be stretched out to start during his rehab.

 

If no injuries occur between now and when he's activated, I'd say slot him into the starting rotation for a few turns. If May's up to 80-90 pitches per start by then, that would hopefully by the Twins 4-5 IP, which is about average (unfortunately) for this staff so far.

 

I say "why not" to the Twins going with a 6-man rotation. That would protect May as well as Romero, both of whom will be on strict pitch counts through the season.

 

 

    • 3balls2strikes likes this
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JaleelWhite FanClub
May 18 2018 07:33 AM

May's FIP numbers are really encouraging and are more in-line with what he can bring (vs. his 5+ ERA). I think it reveals that May has had a well-below-average defense behind him. He missed out on the Twins' defensive transformation last season. 

    • wavedog and 3balls2strikes like this

 

Yeh, I remember being perilously close to being enraged when the Pelf/May decision came down.I really do think it led to the troubles May has had since, and well, we all know the troubles Pelf gave the Twins...

 

Mike Pelfrey's first 11 starts that year: 8-3 with a 2.28 ERA and a .654 opponent OPS. It didn't start out a bad decision. People forget it because Duffey was the story at the end of that year but Pelfrey carried the Twins through the first half of the season.

 

And then the wheels came off.

    • Dantes929, WLFINN, RaymondLuxuryYacht and 2 others like this
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Brock Beauchamp
May 18 2018 08:12 AM

 

Mike Pelfrey's first 11 starts that year: 8-3 with a 2.28 ERA and a .654 opponent OPS. It didn't start out a bad decision. People forget it because Duffey was the story at the end of that year but Pelfrey carried the Twins through the first half of the season.

 

And then the wheels came off.

It was a questionable decision but not an indefensible one.

 

We all figured Pelfrey was in way over his head but the bullpen was in pretty miserable shape at the time. The Twins needed a higher upside arm to pitch late innings and May was their best option.

 

Of course, that meant weakening the rotation at the same time. It wasn't an optimal solution but there was no optimal solution available at the time.

    • ThejacKmp and howieramone2 like this

I think Lynn will very likely return to form at some point, I just wish he wasn't trying to figure things out in games that count. If he hasn't gotten back on track when May is available, my preference would be to give his rotation spot to May, and send him on an injury rehab assignment in the minor leagues. I think it would greatly improve Lynn's free agency prospects to attribute his current failures to some phantom injury. And it would clean up his stats to wait till his command returned instead of digging a hole he won't be able to get out of. Once he's pitched three or four weeks without walking so many people, bring him back up, and let him finish the season strong. You can always move May to the bullpen then. Or if he's noticeably better than Lynn, leave him in the rotation and put Lynn in the bullpen. One benefit of a one-year contract is it's not our problem. But at this point, I think the team's needs (to win games, now) and Lynn's (to enter free agency with decent statistics) might both be served by getting him out of the rotation till he stops stinking things up.

    • Thrylos and DannySD like this
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LA VIkes Fan
May 18 2018 08:59 AM

I completely agree with the posters who suggest trading Lynn back to the NL. I think we have to wait until after May 31 since he was a free agent signee, so let's give him two more starts. If he shows some improvement, that improvement and his overall track record could make him a trade candidate in June depending on when Hughes or Santana is ready. We won't get a lot for Lynn given his start and the lack of interest over the winter (although he's only on a one year deal)but maybe we can get a backup C, a real 4th OF or amid-level prospect. At this point you would have to think Lynn is behind May and Santana when they're ready, and probably behind Gonsalves, Mejia, Littel and Slegers as far as projected MLB performance. Let's call it the failed experiment it is for us, trade him to the NL where he can hopefully get back on track for a new team, and move on. I hope the FO has the Dodgers, Pirates and Giants on speed dial.  

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diehardtwinsfan
May 18 2018 09:06 AM

Lynn has to pitch reasonable well to command anything in a trade. Otherwise, he just gets released. I'm not against that for the record if he continues to pitch poorly and both May and Santana are knocking at the door, but I think the idea that we would get anything for him, especially given the salary teams are taking on, is not something to count on. 

    • ThejacKmp, Oxtung, caninatl04 and 1 other like this

A couple of May videos regarding his performance at Rochester last night:

 

 

    • Sconnie likes this
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ashburyjohn
May 18 2018 09:55 AM

A couple of May videos regarding his performance at Rochester last night:

Nice video of the strikeouts. I'm not sure any two of those strike-three pitches were the same. Batters have a lot to think about.

    • Thrylos likes this
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strumdatjaguar
May 18 2018 10:06 AM

Twins need to keep Lance Lynn a bit longer, 2 or 3 more starts, to see if he can regain his form. Is May out of options or can the Twins leave him at AAA?

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JaleelWhite FanClub
May 18 2018 10:39 AM

I wouldn't put it past the Twins to try Lynn out of the bullpen. That's where he started his MLB career, and they've shown a recent willingness to shift starters to the pen (ex: Duffey, May, Hughes). Plus, since he's only on a 1-yr deal, so I doubt fans would gripe too much about one of their free agents moving to a diminished role.

Trading for a catcher with a bat sounds like a good idea. Right after we sift through the extra arms and settle on the starting rotation and the remaining bullpen moves.

 

I wouldn't put it past the Twins to try Lynn out of the bullpen. That's where he started his MLB career, and they've shown a recent willingness to shift starters to the pen (ex: Duffey, May, Hughes). Plus, since he's only on a 1-yr deal, so I doubt fans would gripe too much about one of their free agents moving to a diminished role.

 

Would he accept it? He's going to want to start to build value for his next contract. Going to the pen would hurt him financially. Then again, pitching like he is would too so maybe he'd go for it?


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