Twins with One Spot Left
Image courtesy of © Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY SportsTyler Duffey was recently optioned to Triple-A, and the opportunity for Moya to start against the Orioles presented itself. After making his debut in 2017, Moya is looking to cement himself as a fixture in the Twins future bullpen plans. With a quirky setup and delivery, he's got plenty of intrigue, but there's more talent there than just the optics.
It's be pretty hard to argue that Gabriel Moya hasn't earned a spot this spring. Across 10.0 IP Moya has 10 strikeouts and a glowing 0.90 ERA. He was nothing short of exceptional on the farm a year ago and posted a 0.77 ERA split between two Double-A teams. Despite being a strikeout machine with strong walk numbers, the velocity isn't anything to write home about. In his brief time with Minnesota last year, he averaged just 91.1 mph on his fastball. Deception, command, and placement seem to be more of his blueprint to get the job done.
Regarding the competition, Tyler Kinley likely couldn't be more opposite than Moya. A hard thrower that can push it into the upper-90s, he too is a strikeout pitcher but has had plenty of issues with command. Across his 10.0 IP for Minnesota this spring, he's registered 11 strikeouts but they come with seven walks. The 4.50 ERA is inflated due to two outings in which he allowed earned runs, and one of which was a 47-pitch endeavor across two innings. In short, Minnesota has to have liked what they've seen here as well.
When it comes down to it, the reality of flexibility is almost certain to play a factor. Kinley not making the club would force the Twins to either work out a trade or offer him back to the Miami Marlins (though they haven't been in the business of wanting players this offseason). On the flip side, Moya has options remaining, and can be sent down to the farm with no ill-effects whatsoever.
It's hard to see the Twins now deciding to cut bait with Kinley after letting the string play out this far. Duffey being optioned suggested a relative shift in thinking and provided a bit of clarity. Although it's still possible Moya is lights out during his final audition, I'd imagine there's a near insurmountable hill to climb for the former Diamondbacks prospect.
When asking Molitor about the situation regarding Moya and Kinley following today's game, he suggested that tomorrow's game having both arms scheduled doesn't reflect a fate-determining moment. "We've been discussing how it's going to shape up as an organization for a while now. We are in a position where we can get another day out of it. Whether that changes where we are or not, I don't expect it to be a do or die. Just trying to see how it all fits together and what look you want to have."
Looking back at my second 25-man roster projection from March 10, it looks to be spot on outside of Jorge Polanco's departure. With Zack Granite expected to get that roster spot, it's probably a good bet to assume the club will at least break camp with their Rule 5 selection still in tow.