Is it Time for a Roster Reshuffle?
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsPitching Problems
Minnesota’s pitchers have the seventh worse ERA in the American League, which puts them in the middle of the pack. With the help of Jose Berrios, Twins starters have the fifth best ERA in the AL. However, Twins starters have pitched the fewest innings of any AL starting staff but weather played a role in this total as well.
A revamped bullpen was supposed to help the Twins stay in playoff contention. So far this year, only the Royals and the White Sox have a higher bullpen ERA. Minnesota has the fifth highest BB/9 and K/9 totals in the American League. New additions Fernando Rodney (4.05 ERA), Zack Duke (7.94 ERA) and Tyler Kinley (24.30 ERA) have struggled in multiple appearances.
RHP Alan Busenitz was optioned to Rochester following Monday’s debacle in the Bronx. LHP Gabriel Moya has also joined Rochester this week. In four appearances (4 innings), Busenitz allowed three runs on eight hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. Moya made five appearances and allowed six runs on six hits including three home runs.
Tyler Kinley was a Rule 5 Draft pick but he has mostly been used in mop-up duty so far this year. Even in these low-leverage situations, he has surrendered nine runs in 3 1/3 innings. The Twins might not be able to hide him in the bullpen for much longer. Trevor Hildenberger was great at the end of last season but he has struggled in 2018. Through 9 2/3 innings, he has surrendered five earned runs and has a six to four strikeout to walk ratio.
Tyler Duffey was announced as the roster replacement for Busenitz. Duffey made four appearances at Triple-A and he was asked to pitch more than one inning in every outing. He pitched three innings or more in three of his four appearances. Duffey hasn’t allowed an earned run so far this season and he has 14 strikeouts in 11 innings. Opponents are hitting .086/.108/.114 so he should be a welcome addition to the bullpen.
Two other promotion candidates are John Curtiss and Aaron Slegers. Curtiss has put together a strong track record in the minor leagues with plenty of late-inning experience. Last season between Chattanooga and Rochester, he had a 1.28 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 49.1 innings. This year he’s allowed three runs in seven innings with 12 strikeouts. Slegers has been utilized as a starter for Rochester this season. He’s made three starts (18.0 innings) and allowed four earned runs.
If the Twins are going to add another bullpen arm, Curtiss seems the most likely candidate. Phil Hughes might be a candidate to move to the bullpen and Slegers could fill his spot at the back of the rotation. Slegers could slide into a long relief role because Minnesota is probably going to stick with their current starting staff.
Prepping for Prospects
Some of the team’s top prospects might also be getting closer to making their big league debuts. Fernando Romero has been impressive so far this season at Rochester. In three appearances (two starts), he has a 1.69 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. Stephen Gonsalves continues to thrive for Chattanooga. In 15.1 innings, he has allowed three earned runs (two home runs) with a 0.98 WHIP. Both players are on the 40-man roster so that makes a call-up a little easier.
For position players, Zack Granite made multiple appearances with the Twins last season. So far with Rochester, he’s gone 5-for-31 and added eight walks. Unfortunately, he was placed on the disabled list this past weekend with a right shoulder contusion. Nick Gordon has been hitting well at Chattanooga to start the season. Through the team’s first 17 games, he is batting .375/.382/.578 with seven extra-base hits and a 10 to 2 strikeout to walk ratio.
Jorge Polanco’s suspension might have opened a window for Gordon. He isn’t on the team’s 40-man roster so that complicates his call-up situation. That being said, Gordon should debut at some point in 2018 and he could be a boost to the lineup.
How would you reshuffle the lineup? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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