Trending (3/24): Roster Battles
Image courtesy of Brock BeauchampThe Starting Rotation
All along the general consensus was that Tyler Duffey would be in the Twins rotation. Based on how he performed down the stretch last year, why wouldn’t he be? MLB might as well be short for “What have you done for me lately?” because, lately, Tyler Duffey hasn’t done much. He’s gone from “it’s going to take a disaster to not be in the rotation” to “well his name is written in pencil, not ink” to “well we can’t send Nolasco down, so….”.
The trend line is pointing solidly to Tommy Milone as being the lone lefty in the rotation. And after Nolasco’s strong performance Wednesday - coupled with Duffey not pitching well against minor leaguers - it appears Nolasco has regained the lead in the quest for the fifth and final rotation spot. That could leave Duffey out in the cold (of Rochester).
Trending up, on the other hand, is the Red Wings starting rotation which will include Jose Berrios, Alex Meyer and Tyler Duffey. Taylor Rogers, though, will start the season in the bullpen.
The group of Glen Perkins, Kevin Jepsen, Trevor May and Casey Fien will form an average (or better) back end. Non-roster lefty Fernando Abad is expected to join them. When Duffey appeared poised for the rotation, that forced Nolasco to take up one of the two remaining bullpen spots. But now with that race tightening up, there could be two spots available in the bullpen.
J.R. Graham was optioned to Rochester on Wednesday. Michael Tonkin finally had a decent showing on Tuesday after giving up runs in each of his last three outings, including two runs in each of his last two one-inning appearances. Tonkin might get a longer look (i.e. into the season) just because he is out of options, but he’s been trending the wrong direction all spring.
Some other names to keep an eye on are Dan Runzler, a lefty who has allowed seven men on base in eight innings, and potential LOOGY Ryan O’Rourke, who has been lights-out in his 5 ⅔ innings this spring. Both of those men are trending in the right direction.
(Edit: Yes, Ryan Pressly should absolutely be considered for the bullpen and is probably a favorite to secure the spot if there is only one opening. If there are two spots open, Pressly has to be considered a near-lock.)
Another name that popped up this afternoon, thanks to Steve Lein, is Tyler Duffey. If he’s not in the rotation, how dominant could he be in the bullpen (a la Trevor May)? You also have the insurance built in that he doesn’t need to be the sixth starter in the organization (Berrios). It’s kinda crazy - and not a move I would make this season - but definitely something that could be worth considering as the roster continues to take shape (and you believe the best 25 should go north).
Danny Santana missed seven days of games due to a sore wrist within the last two weeks but has started to hit (5 for 11) in his last three games. He’s been playing a variety of positions, which gives him a little value. The reality is that Santana, another out-of-options player, is going to be on the 25-man whether he hits or not. The hope here, though, is that Molitor can avoid using him as anything but a late-innings pinch-runner when it’s absolutely necessary. I’d still consider him to be trending down, but the slope isn’t as steep as it was ten days ago.
Oswaldo Arcia is in a very similar place. Only Arcia’s (potential) value is in his bat and not his versatility. Arcia teased us in 2014 and frustrated us in 2015. He’s now being pushed by the old knees of the recently unretired Carlos Quentin. Yet it’s still hard to believe that the club will decide to keep Quentin, who has no defensive value compared to even Arcia. But if it’s bat we’re looking for and spring training we’re watching, we still see Arcia’s OPS of .528 next to Quentin’s OPS of .931 in the 15 games they’ve each played and wonder, “What to do with Ozzie?” Smart money is on him taking up a bench spot early in the season.
What do you think? What would you do?