May Day is Coming for the Twins
Image courtesy of © Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY SportsAt 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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