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Will Alex Meyer Pitch in the Majors This Year?

With the Twins once again buried in last place and their starting pitching staff once again ranking among the worst in the league, fans have been asking the same question for much of the summer.

When will Trevor May and Alex Meyer get the call?
Image courtesy of Jerry Lai, USA Today Sports
By all appearances, both of the highly rated pitching prospects have been MLB-ready for some time. May and Meyer rank fifth and sixth, respectively, on the International League ERA leaderboard, and they're both in the top three for strikeout rate.

Yet, both have been left to dominate in Triple-A while the Twins give starts to lesser talents like Kris Johnson, Logan Darnell and Yohan Pino. We're now almost a week into August, and still there's no clear indication that either May or Meyer is even on the verge of a promotion.

It's not hard to see why people are frustrated, but at the same time, there are circumstances at play with both pitchers that need to be recognized.

May is very, very close. When he was seemingly nearing a call-up in June, he suffered an ill-timed calf injury that cost him a month, and he's been working his way back. Just now has he finally returned to a normal workload; he threw 99 pitches in his last start, the first time since mid-June that he's gone over 80.

He's already on the 40-man roster. Bringing him up is a simple move at this point. I have to imagine that May will be on the Twins within the next turn or two through the rotation.

The wait for Meyer will probably last longer. He might not even debut in 2014. And while that's unfortunate to hear, it's not something to get riled up at the organization over.

Last year, Meyer missed two months -- more than a third of his season -- with a sore throwing shoulder. It was very scary, especially when you consider that his size and delivery always elicited injury concerns from scouts.

Fortunately, the shoulder has been fine this year. He hasn't missed a start and has been making mincemeat of minor-league hitters. But when you look at this pitch count from start to start, it's obvious that the Twins are being very cautious with him.

Here are Meyer's inning totals and pitch counts for each outing with Rochester this season:

4/6: 5.0 IP, 79 pitches
4/12: 5.1 IP, 83 pitches
4/18: 3.2 IP, 77 pitches
4/23: 6.2 IP, 100 pitches
4/28: 6.0 IP, 100 pitches
5/4: 4.2 IP, 92 pitches
5/10: 4.0 IP, 92 pitches
5/15: 5.0 IP, 69 pitches
5/22: 5.1 IP, 79 pitches
5/28: 6.0 IP, 88 pitches
6/2: 5.0 IP, 78 pitches
6/7: 6.0 IP, 81 pitches
6/13: 2.0 IP, 51 pitches
6/18: 3.0 IP, 78 pitches
6/23: 3.2 IP, 73 pitches
6/28: 6.0 IP, 77 pitches
7/3: 6.0 IP, 86 pitches
7/8: 6.0 IP, 96 pitches
7/18: 6.0 IP, 88 pitches
7/23: 6.0 IP, 86 pitches
7/29: 5.0 IP, 96 pitches
8/3: 5.2 IP, 91 pitches

Looking at the game log, a few things stand out. First, he's only been allowed to pitch into the seventh inning once all season, despite the fact that he's routinely blowing away opposing lineups. Second, only seven times in 22 starts has he been pushed over 90 pitches.

Twins Daily member jokin was in attendance during Meyer's latest start in Louisville, and described the performance in a post here on our forums. His writeup noted that Meyer was pulled rather abruptly with two outs in the fifth despite "looking completely in command of the game," as the righty had surpassed the 90-pitch threshold.

This observation coincides with what we're seeing in Meyer's pitch count trends. There's a clear effort being made to monitor him very closely and pull him out of games where he's laboring or approaching that triple-digit pitch mark.

It's a lot easier to do that in Triple-A, where the games don't really matter, than in the majors. Big-league starters are expected to throw more than 90 pitches. And Meyer, whose command remains spotty despite all his notable strengths, could have some games where he hits that 90-pitch mark pretty quickly as he transitions to the highest level. That taxes a bullpen.

As a fan, I am dying to see Meyer pitch in a Twins uniform. But at the same time, I'm not going to fault the organization for taking every precaution with such a highly valuable arm, especially in a lost season. If they just want to get him through a full, healthy campaign, with the idea of having him try and win a spot next spring, I can live with that.

At this point, it might not make much of a difference. He has already thrown 112 innings this year, which is eight more than he threw total last year, between the regular season and Arizona Fall League. As careful as they've been with him, it's hard to imagine the Twins letting Meyer top 150 innings this season.

That means he might only have five or six starts left. While it would be nice for the fans if a few of those come in the majors, that also requires adding him to the 40-man and starting his service clock. Those aren't huge hurdles, necessarily, but they're factors.

Ultimately, it wouldn't shock me if the Twins let Meyer finish out in Triple-A, and it wouldn't really upset me.

International League hitters might feel differently.

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112 Comments

Yeah, it wouldn't bother me at all either. I do think he comes up at some point, probably after the Rochester season is complete, and just works out of the bullpen. That may be a great introduction to the big leagues for him.

If he has a ~150 inning limit, he's looking at about 6-7 more starts before being shut down. It's hard to fault the organization one way or the other.

 

Seth just tweeted a scenario involving May starting Saturday and Correia being pushed back a day to let Milone start Monday. If we follow that pitching schedule for another week, it lines Correia up with Meyer on 8/18 vs. the Royals. If the organization wants to let Meyer taste a few MLB starts, it wouldn't be hard to swing it by cutting Correia prior to that game and calling up Meyer for the next 2-3 times through the rotation

    • DAM DC Twins Fans and beyondclarity like this
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twinstalker
Aug 05 2014 11:36 PM

He's not on the 40, but there's no difference now for him to be placed there compared to putting him on in the fall to protect him from Rule V.  He'll still have three years of options starting in 2015.  If it's not Correia getting DFA'd to make room for Meyer, I think it's Florimon.

 

He needs to get MLB starts, though, because he'll be in rotation next year.

It wouldn't shock me either, if the Twins let Meyer finish out in Triple-A. But it would very much upset me.  I hear all the reasons, and disagree.  Tell me that Alex doesn't want to give it a shot, and I wouldn't believe it unless I heard him say it, and then I probably wouldn't believe it.  Who cares if he taxes the bullpen now?  Really? Anybody?  Even the taxed bullpen would want to see Meyer and May pitch.  3 or 4 starts, immediately if not sooner?  Don't all the other pitchers tax the bullpen?  Aren't there bullpen moves that need to be made, and other pitchers to try in the pen, too, as the Twins settle into the cellar?  

It wouldn't shock me if the Twins don't do what everybody wants and needs to see sooner than later (it is already later) either.  Unfortunately, I pretty much expect it and expect to be more upset.

    • jokin and Tibs like this

Who cares if he taxes the bullpen now?  Really? Anybody?  Even the taxed bullpen would want to see Meyer and May pitch.  3 or 4 starts, immediately if not sooner?  Don't all the other pitchers tax the bullpen?  

 

It's a fair point. Meyer's averaged just under 5 IP over his last ten starts, including the clunkers in late June, but over his last 5 starts its been around 6 IP/start. For comparison, here are the averages for some of the replaceable pitchers who have started this season:

 

Pino - ~5.2 IP/start

Correia - ~5.2 IP/start

Deduno - <5 IP/start

Darnell - 4.5 IP/start

Johnson - <4.5 IP/start

 

So the argument could certainly be made that, if consistent, Meyer is no worse on the bullpen than the existing AAAA options.

    • jokin likes this
I expect to see May and Milone very soon. While I would at least like to see him get a couple of starts this year with the Twins, I wouldn't be shocked if he's left in Rochester, especially if the Wings are in the playoffs
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mike wants wins
Aug 06 2014 06:25 AM

I guess I don't understand why "taxing" the bullpen is a: an issue. b: a certainty. Plenty of guys in AAA can be brought up to man the bullpen if that is really an issue, which doesn't even seem like it is certain to happen.

 

They seem to call up hitters willy nilly (Polanco), but seem terrified to bring up pitchers. It is, as a fan, maddening. 

 

The 40 man issue is a red herring. He needs to be added at the end of the year anyway. The only tiny risk is that he gets hurt, and needs to be on the MLB IR, and not the MiLB IR. Other than that, it isn't an actual issue anymore.

    • Sconnie likes this

I guess I don't understand why "taxing" the bullpen is a: an issue. b: a certainty. Plenty of guys in AAA can be brought up to man the bullpen if that is really an issue, which doesn't even seem like it is certain to happen.

 

They seem to call up hitters willy nilly (Polanco), but seem terrified to bring up pitchers. It is, as a fan, maddening. 

 

The 40 man issue is a red herring. He needs to be added at the end of the year anyway. The only tiny risk is that he gets hurt, and needs to be on the MLB IR, and not the MiLB IR. Other than that, it isn't an actual issue anymore.

 

Many different theories have existed.The super 2, the walks, the pitch count, "inconsistency", the terrible three starts where he gave up a total of 7 ER, none have ever made sense to me other than maybe super 2 (which has passed). Most have really been people making excuses for the organization.

 

What has been constant? Alex Meyer is the most talented pitcher within the entire system, IMO.Clearly the most talented of the pitchers at AAA or that have recently been moved up.His ERA, k numbers, and GB rates show that he has had nothing to prove in AAA and his stuff projects the best at the MLB level.

 

Something has never smelled right about the whole thing, I have concluded that the Twins want to bring up all of their key guys together.Meyer, May, Sano, Buxton,Vargas, and maybe Rosario.They believe this will be good PR as well as allow them to keep them under control at the same time. That is the motivation and it is really pathetic.

I thin at this point you bring him up and let him get his last 40 innings in at the major league level.I think the experience could be valuable for him going into the off season.That taste of a higher level can let a person know what they need to work on to succeed at that level.

 

The flipside is this, the Twins are getting close to the end of the year and with other teams putting players onwaivers, the Twins may want to make some claims and pick up some overpaid but useful pieces so adding another player to the 40 man makes this harder.Also, at this point they could leave Meyer down have him start at Rochester for a month next year and gain an additional year of control.I would have liked to see Meyer up a month or two ago but at this point there is some logic to keeping him down until the beginning of 2015.

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mike wants wins
Aug 06 2014 07:40 AM

Meyer will be 25 next year, I believe. Another year of control should not be an issue at this point.

    • Danchat likes this

Last year, Meyer missed two months -- more than a third of his season -- with a sore throwing shoulder. It was very scary, especially when you consider that his size and delivery always elicited injury concerns from scouts.

 

...

This observation coincides with what we're seeing in Meyer's pitch count trends. There's a clear effort being made to monitor him very closely and pull him out of games where he's laboring or approaching that triple-digit pitch mark.

It's a lot easier to do that in Triple-A, where the games don't really matter, than in the majors. Big-league starters are expected to throw more than 90 pitches. And Meyer, whose command remains spotty despite all his notable strengths, could have some games where he hits that 90-pitch mark pretty quickly as he transitions to the highest level. That taxes a bullpen.

As a fan, I am dying to see Meyer pitch in a Twins uniform. But at the same time, I'm not going to fault the organization for taking every precaution with such a highly valuable arm, especially in a lost season. If they just want to get him through a full, healthy campaign, with the idea of having him try and win a spot next spring, I can live with that.

Meyer missed "more than a third" of the 2013 season only if you don't count the AFL.  If you take his IP/GS when he went down with his injury, and multiply that by a full AA season of 27 starts, you get 149.2 IP.  His combined 2013 IP of 104.1 is over two-thirds of that.

 

Also, Deduno and Swarzak have pitched about 3 innings each the last 10 games.  We have 19 healthy pitchers on the 40-man roster that we can freely shuttle between Rochester and Minnesota (and we're 3.5 weeks away from potentially having them all in Minnesota).  We have at least two position players on the 40-man (Florimon and Schafer) who are almost certain DFAs after the season too, if we want to add more pitchers (Guerra, Gilmartin, Oliveros).  I do not see "taxing the 2014 Twins bullpen" as a valid excuse for holding Meyer back at this point.

 

What would you rather have, going into the offseason and spring training 2015: Meyer pitching ~30-40 more innings at a level he's already more or less dominated for 112 IP, or Meyer with even just his first 20-30 MLB IP already under his belt?

 

Different player and situation, obviously, but imagine if the Twins had been able to call up Aaron Hicks for the last month or two of 2012 and how that could have benefitted our offseason decision making and the 2013 opening roster!  Not to mention how much it could benefit the player, to acclimate to the big leagues in a "lost" season and have a whole offseason to re-calibrate for MLB level competition.

    • mike wants wins, jokin and chuchadoro like this

Yeah, it wouldn't bother me at all either. I do think he comes up at some point, probably after the Rochester season is complete, and just works out of the bullpen. That may be a great introduction to the big leagues for him.

Which goes almost completely against the "protect his shoulder" reasoning that Nick outlined.  By the time the Rochester season is complete, Meyer will be at or near his season innings limit.  And it's at that point you think it would be a "great" idea to push him for more innings, at more effort (due to higher level of competition), in a different role than his entire professional career to date?

 

Why not do it now (or late June, like we did for Gibson, or late July, like many here assured would happen)?  Because we promised a rotation spot to Kevin Correia?  Because we don't want to do a 6-man rotation?  Because the next 30 MLB IP are urgently critical to our evaluation of Pino?

Which goes almost completely against the "protect his shoulder" reasoning that Nick outlined.  By the time the Rochester season is complete, Meyer will be at or near his season innings limit.  And it's at that point you think it would be a "great" idea to push him for more innings, at more effort (due to higher level of competition), in a different role than his entire professional career to date?

 

Why not do it now (or late June, like we did for Gibson, or late July, like many here assured would happen)?  Because we promised a rotation spot to Kevin Correia?  Because we don't want to do a 6-man rotation?  Because the next 30 MLB IP are urgently critical to our evaluation of Pino?

 

Yes, Yes, and Yes.None of these theories make any sense, so the Twins have a different motive.They are blowing a great opportunity to get the nerves out and get some experience under the belt of a guy that will undoubtedly be pitching in game 1 of the next Twins playoff game.

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mike wants wins
Aug 06 2014 08:04 AM

I don't know they are blowing it. We just don't know the strategy. I'm hoping there is a strategy, and they are following it. I just am struggling to understand what that strategy is right now.

    • ChiTownTwinsFan, James, snepp and 1 other like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Aug 06 2014 08:07 AM
There was an article/thread back in April on this same topic. Predicting when Meyer will make his debut. Unfortunately the comments are lost. I doubt anyone would have predicted that if Meyer pitched well all year, stayed healthy, and did all the right things, that he would make his debut... not this year at all.
    • Danchat likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
Aug 06 2014 08:12 AM

My 2 cents FWIW...

 

Meyer will be a September callup. He has to be added to the 40 this offseason, and the Twins have shown a history to put people in his status on the 40 the September prior.He's on a pitch count/limit, so I don't see the point in bringing him up earlier to start games a coupe games and then get shut down, but I do think he'll work out of the pen in Sept, and maybe be given a spot start as the rosters will be expanded.  

 

That said, Meyer's walk rate is pretty high this year.He needs to bring that down a bit as it's not going to improve at the ML level where hitters tend to be better at not chasing pitches out of the zone.As such, I can understand the Twins concern on this issue.

Big-league starters are expected to throw more than 90 pitches. And Meyer, whose command remains spotty despite all his notable strengths, could have some games where he hits that 90-pitch mark pretty quickly as he transitions to the highest level. That taxes a bullpen.

 

AAA pitches per inning, 2014

 

 

Darnell: 16.5
Meyer: 16.4
Johnson: 16.2
May: 15.6
Pino: 15.4

 

And sample size is not benefitting Meyer here, as he has the largest sample of 2014 AAA IP of this group.

 

Last 7 starts, since late June, Meyer is at 15.2 pitches per inning too.  So by that measure, his "command" is improving.  (And in regards to that sample size, Pino only has 8 AAA starts this year.)

 

But sure, yeah, Meyer would tax the bullpen too much, which might threaten to throw the 2014 Twins season off the rails!  Much better to let him go into spring training 2015 having never faced a major league lineup. :(

    • Steve Lein, jokin, h2oface and 1 other like this

He's on a pitch count/limit, so I don't see the point in bringing him up earlier to start games a coupe games and then get shut down, but I do think he'll work out of the pen in Sept, and maybe be given a spot start as the rosters will be expanded.

I don't see the point in delaying his MLB debut to the point where he's virtually at his season innings limit, and changing his role and routine at the same time too.

 

Why not shut him down Sep. 1st?  They did it with Gibson last year, albeit after sending him back down to AAA in late August.  The 25 man roster spot means nothing after Sep. 1st, and the extra ~28 days MLB service time means nothing if Meyer can win a MLB rotation spot next spring (or even a MLB bullpen spot in preparation for a MLB rotation spot), which has to be the hoped-for outcome here, right?

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mike wants wins
Aug 06 2014 08:21 AM
He will still pitch in AAA....so would you rather he reach his limit there, or here?

If they don't bring up Meyer at all, I will be PISSED.Maybe even to the point of saying "Eff my season tickets, because this team doesn't give a crap about it's fans."

 

It's that simple for me.They aren't 'young' prospects any more, take off the kid gloves. 

    • Badsmerf and tobi0040 like this

If they don't bring up Meyer at all, I will be PISSED.Maybe even to the point of saying "Eff my season tickets, because this team doesn't give a crap about it's fans."

 

It's that simple for me.They aren't 'young' prospects any more, take off the kid gloves. 

 

I am already pissed because this reeks of a financial decision over a development decision.He can pitch 5-6 IP, 1-2 ER, and 6-9 k's at AAA until the cows come home.

    • Steve Lein likes this

They aren't 'young' prospects any more, take off the kid gloves. 

I actually don't mind the kid gloves, to some degree.  Shut them down when there's a problem, limit their pitch counts and innings when they come back, sure.

 

But missing two months of one season shouldn't automatically preclude an MLB trial late the following season, which seems to be the case here.

    • Steve Lein likes this

I mean, what really do they need to show the Twins here?

 

On International League leaderboards, May and Meyer are top 10 in ERA (#5 and #6 respectively), near the top in WHIP (#4 and #11), Meyer leads the league in overall K's and K/9, while May is #4 in K/9. They're even #2 (May) and #7 (Meyer) in FIP, and #2 (Meyer) and #3 (May) in Batting Average Against.

 

The standards the Twins have for calling them up with how atrocious their starters in MLB have been is nothing short of baffling. 

 

I get the May injury pushing him back, but that concern is over. 

    • Badsmerf likes this
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Brock Beauchamp
Aug 06 2014 08:58 AM

I don't know they are blowing it. We just don't know the strategy. I'm hoping there is a strategy, and they are following it. I just am struggling to understand what that strategy is right now.

 

Indeed. I think Meyer should be up here given the information I have available to me.

 

I'm hoping the Twins have more information and that is the reason we haven't seen Meyer. If he hasn't been promoted out of sheer stubbornness, well...

 

Attached Image: nathan-fillion-firefly-gif.gif

    • ChiTownTwinsFan likes this

Which goes almost completely against the "protect his shoulder" reasoning that Nick outlined.  By the time the Rochester season is complete, Meyer will be at or near his season innings limit.  And it's at that point you think it would be a "great" idea to push him for more innings, at more effort (due to higher level of competition), in a different role than his entire professional career to date?

 

Why not do it now (or late June, like we did for Gibson, or late July, like many here assured would happen)?  Because we promised a rotation spot to Kevin Correia?  Because we don't want to do a 6-man rotation?  Because the next 30 MLB IP are urgently critical to our evaluation of Pino?

 

I'm making an assumption based on my projected rotation the next two weeks (in another thread) that May and Milone will be up in the next week, so Pino isn't the issue. I can see Correia being DFAd at the end of August if they can't get anyone to take him too.


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