Only One Call Away
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Trevor Hildenberger)In many cases, we will lump together some positions where it makes sense. I’d certainly welcome your feedback on each. Of course, circumstances in the big leagues and in the minor leagues can alter any of this thinking from day to day.
The Twins are already at 13 pitchers, and as Nick noted it would probably be good if they can drop down to 12 pitchers in the near future. Obviously that change would happen in the bullpen as opposed to dropping to a four-man rotation.
Who would be the next starting pitcher up if the Twins need a new starting pitcher? What if Adalberto Mejia struggles for three or four more starts? What if one of the five starters got hurt?
One option, of course, would be to move Tyler Duffey back into the starting rotation. That isn’t a terrible option, but frankly, I’ve enjoyed watching his performance and how his stuff plays out of the bullpen.
Jose Berrios threw six shutout innings in his first outing of the Rochester season. He will be back on the mound on Thursday afternoon. He’s been there, and maybe if he had not gone to the WBC, he would be in the rotation now. No real way to know that with certainty.
40-Man Roster Options: Two starters at AA Chattanooga are on the 40-man roster. Felix Jorge and Fernando Romero could be options for spot-start scenarios now. Maybe by season’s end, they will be ready for more.
Non-Roster Options: Nick Tepesch was one of the last pitchers sent back to the minor leagues, so he is an option. Aaron Slegers made his first AAA start on Tuesday and threw six no-hit innings. Paul Clemens made 16 MLB starts last year (between the Padres and Marlins). He struggled in his first start for Chattanooga, but he could be an option as well.
Left-Handed Relief Pitcher
The Twins currently have two relief pitchers, Taylor Rogers and Craig Breslow. Ryan O’Rourke is on the 10-Day disabled list. Glen Perkins is on the 60-Day D. As of today the guy who would be called up would be Buddy Boshers.
40-man Roster Options: Mason Melotakis is healthy, and he’s pitched well so far in Chattanooga. He should surface sometime in 2017. Randy Rosario was just promoted to Chattanooga. We saw what he can do in spring training. Both of these guys throw in the mid-to-upper 90s with very good sliders.
Non-Roster Options: Tyler Jay is the name to watch but as you know, he’s on the DL with some biceps tendinitis. Still, he could be in the equation later in the year.
The other option is to go with one left-hander in the bullpen and select a right-handed reliever.
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
The Twins currently have six right-handers in the big league bullpen. That includes Rule 5 pick Justin Haley. But if there were an injury, who would be called up? The answer for who I think would be called up now might be surprising. I think they call would go to Trevor Hildenberger. The side-winding right-hander is again off to a great start, this time in AAA. He is not on the 40-man roster
40-Man Roster Options: It was a surprise when JT Chargois was optioned late in camp. For those who follow the daily minor league reports, you’re aware that although he isn’t on the DL, he has yet to pitch. It isn’t believed to be long-term.
Non-Roster Options: Jake Reed is on the DL due to his side injury. Alex Wimmers lasted late into spring training. His first outing of the year was rough, but he is capable. One name not often talked about is Alan Busenitz. He came from the Angels in the Ricky Nolasco trade. While he’s not a big man, he does throw very hard.
The Twins outfield is currently playing great defensively, but all three have struggled with the bat to start the season. So has fourth outfielder Danny Santana. And Robbie Grossman has only DHd, but he could play both corner spots.
Right now, I think that Daniel Palka would be the guy called up if any of the three starting outfielders went on the D. He plays right field and can play left field (as well as DH), and both Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler can play center field.
40-Man Roster Options: Zack Granite started the season on the DL with a strained oblique, but once healthy and with a few games under his belt, he could certainly be an option as well.
Non-Roster Options: Ben Paulsen had a good spring training, and he’s off to a fast start in Rochester. He’s primarily played left field, but he can play first base too.JB Shuck was one of the last cuts from big league camp too.
Third Base/Second Base/Shortstop
Miguel Sano, Brian Dozier and Jorge Polanco are going to play most every day. Eduardo Escobar has spelled Sano a couple of times, and Polanco once. Danny Santana can also play at any of those positions. I think if there was a short-term (maybe 10-day DL) situation that the Twins would call up Engelb Vielma. If it was more of a potentially long-term injury situation, I think that Tommy Field would likely be added to the 40-man roster and called up. He can be a backup at all three spots, plus has spent some time in the outfield too.
40-Man Roster Options: Ehire Adrianza is on the DL. Since he is out of options, the team will need to make a decision on him when he is ready to return. Or, they would need to make a decision on someone else.
Non-Roster Options: Niko Goodrum chose to stay with the Twins organization this year rather than test free agency. He made a good impression during spring training, and he’s off to a fast start in Rochester, playing a lot of shortstop but also second base and center field so far. Matt Hague might be a possibility at third base. Bengie Gonzalez also had a terrific showing in big league camp. Nick Gordon? Probably not yet, but maybe by the end of the season.
First Base/Designated Hitter
Joe Mauer is at first base most days with Chris Gimenez as his backup. Robbie Grossman has been the main DH, particularly against left-handers.
Right now, the easy choice for call up is Kennys Vargas. He’s on the 40-man roster. He lost time due to being in the WBC (and hardly playing). He recently hit his first home for the Red Wings.
40-Man Roster Options: I mean, the option is Vargas, though I think there is another good option. Mitch Garver has always been a hitter. And, he’s off to a fast start in Rochester. But he’s a catcher, right? Sure, but he’s played quite a bit of first base in his career, and he can DH, plus he can get time behind the plate.
Non-Roster Options: Byungho Park may have been the choice at the end of spring training, but he went on the DL with a hamstring injury on Tuesday. Matt Hague was strong in spring training and has a long track record of success in the International League. Ben Paulsen is also a candidate for first base, DH and can play the corner outfield spots too.
The Twins have had fast starts from Jason Castro and Chris Gimenez both at the plate and behind the plate. But if one of them was to get hurt, who would come up?
Truthfully, I think it depends on which player got hurt. I think that if Chris Gimenez were to go on the DL, the Twins would call up John Ryan Murphy to be the backup to Jason Castro. I think if it was Castro was the one to get hurt, we could see Mitch Garver so that he can be the primary starter.
Those are the two options right now on the 40-man roster, and both are at AAA Rochester. At AA are Dan Rohlfing and Jose Gonzalez.
So there you have it, a lot of words to cover the What Ifs that the game of baseball can present. As we know, there will likely be eight to ten pitchers who will make starts at some point this season. It’s also likely that up to 15 relievers will pitch for the Twins. Even for position players, there will be injuries, maybe some demotions, and then September.
What are your thoughts on who will surface in the big leagues and the scenarios it could happen?
- Tibs, HitInAPinch and caninatl04 like this