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My Money's Still On Trevor May In The Rotation

Posted by Tom Froemming , 16 December 2015 · 1,296 views

trevor may
In a fan forum Wednesday evening, Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor indicated he would probably prefer to keep Trevor May in the bullpen. The plan for spring training, however, is for May to prepare for the 2016 as a starting pitcher. If given an opportunity, I have the utmost confidence May will force the team's hand and pitch his way into the rotation.

After the season ended, the Pioneer Press' Mike Berardino wrote a piece that had a couple telling quotes. May expressed his desire to return to the rotation and Terry Ryan expressed belief that May can be a legit 200-inning starter. So ... what's the problem?

Management is letting the murky bullpen situation cloud its judgment of how best to use May in 2016, but if they leave the door open for May to crack the rotation, as they've indicated, it's gonna happen.

Here's a quote from May in the Berardino piece:

"There's no doubt in my mind I can be a go-to guy on this team -- on any team -- as a starter. I don't think I've achieved anywhere close to what I can achieve as a starter. I'm excited to come in next year and kind of open some eyes."

This is a confident guy who thinks he has figured everything out. He wants the ball to start the game, and I'm sure he's putting in extra work this winter to be prepared to do everything he can to make that happen. There's no reason to doubt his ability to put in the necessary work and make adjustments at this point.

Back in 2013, Eric Longenhagen of Crashburn Alley, who had been closely following May as a Phillies prospect, took another look at the former fourth-round pick. He noted May's stronger legs and noticed a productive switch from a 3/4 arm slot to throwing more over the top. Overall, Longenhagen felt May had made strides in his first year with the Twins system.

The biggest knock on May throughout his minor league career was that he walked too many guys. Over 775 innings on the farm, he had averaged 4.4 BB/9. May impressed enough during the 2014 season to earn a promotion to the Twins, but again he struggled with free passes.

In February, R.J. White of CBS Sports reported that May had taken up yoga. The especially interesting part was his reason why.

"Every scouting report I’ve ever seen on myself says, 'Has trouble repeating his delivery.' Well, yoga is literally repeating moves, keeping your body under your control. I do the warrior pose, which is [the same as] striding and throwing a baseball. It has to help."

In 2014, May walked 22 batters in just 45 2/3 innings with the Twins. Last season? He issued just 26 free passes over 114 2/3 innings. I'd say the yoga helped.

So, over the past couple years May has managed to clean up his mechanics and solve his biggest question mark as a starter. He has been willing to make adjustments and knows himself as a pitcher. He's aware of his weaknesses, but is confident he can be a difference maker.

Add it all up and I'm not betting against Trevor May pitching his way back into the rotation.

Sure, when you take a look at all the options the Twins have, it can be difficult to see it happening. The club has five veteran starters already, all of whom are expecting to be in the rotation. On top of that, there's Tyler Duffey and Jose Berrios. But a lot can happen between now and Opening Day.

Someone may get moved. It's even possible someone looks so bad this spring they pitch themselves out of a job. Unfortunately, somebody could get hurt. All three of those things could happen.

But even if everyone makes it out of camp in the system and healthy, I believe May is going to make it very difficult for the club to send him back to the bullpen. One thing I keep thinking about is who I'd most like to see start a Wild Card game if the Twins can make it in.

Is it crazy to say May? ... Probably. But, I'm not the only one with a baseball man crush on the guy. John Sickels of Minor League Ball predicted May would be an All-Star starter for the Twins in 2016.

It's possible the person who will make the case for May in the rotation is actually Casey Fien. If he's looking good (I'm not certain he was ever really healthy in 2015), maybe the team feels more comfortable going without May's services in the pen. Or maybe Alex Meyer shows something in spring (is it possible we can pass along May's yoga instructor's number?). Or it's still possible the club makes an impact free agent addition.

Plus, Glen Perkins and Kevin Jepsen are still at the back end of the bullpen. It's not like May was ever going to be the closer or anything. How hard can it be to find another viable seventh inning option?

I understand the team is nervous to take May out of a role in which he's been successful. The bullpen can use all the help it can get, but if you looked around at some of the starting pitching matchups this October, you realized the Twins' rotation is also severely lacking in high-end talent.

In the end, we're talking about at potential difference of 200 innings vs. 60 innings from one of the clubs most talented hurlers. It's an easy call to make.




Spot. On.

    • Tom Froemming likes this
BIG TIME LIKE.

Hughes, Santana, Gibson, Duffey and May, in whatever order, is the best starting 5 you could March out to the hill. You always need more than 5 starters over the course of a season so Berrios is your 6th guy for the moment.

I understand shifting someone to the bullpen for NOW if there is a need or a logjam in a healthy rotation. But it is so wrong to arbitrarily decide at this point that May is destined for the pen in '16.
    • Tom Froemming likes this
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Tom Froemming
Dec 17 2015 03:31 PM

 

BIG TIME LIKE.

Hughes, Santana, Gibson, Duffey and May, in whatever order, is the best starting 5 you could March out to the hill. You always need more than 5 starters over the course of a season so Berrios is your 6th guy for the moment.

I understand shifting someone to the bullpen for NOW if there is a need or a logjam in a healthy rotation. But it is so wrong to arbitrarily decide at this point that May is destined for the pen in '16.

And a +1 to you, sir. I think those first three guys deserve to be locked in to their spots, but the next two should be open to competition. If that's going to be the case, I'm extremely confident May and Duffey will be the clear cut choices.

 

I'm still holding out hope for Nolasco, and they should certainly give himself an opportunity to prove himself this spring. I don't think it's going to happen, but he should get his shot. Milone was solid for most of last season, and is a perfectly fine No. 5, but there's no upside beyond that. We know exactly who Milone is: a fifth starter on a bad team. That has value, but I'd rather see what May and Duffey can become.

 

And I am all for shifting guys to the pen ... once they've failed as starters. May hasn't gotten enough of an opportunity to declare him a failure as a starting guy, and he has continued to improve his game since coming to the org.