• Starting in September

    The Twins have 41 games to go which seems like a lot. However, there are just ten days before we reach September when rosters can expand. With the Twins moves yesterday, outrighting Nick Blackburn and Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the Twins 40 man roster now sits at 38. This is great because that means that the Twins can add two players to the 40 man roster without dropping anyone else. Then again, there are a few players that could be removed without much heartache in Twins Nation.

    Starting Pitching has been the Twins biggest concern all season. Really, it has been for several seasons, and it will be again throughout the offseason. That said, the Twins have to find out what they have on the 40 man roster for starters. As of right now, the Twins starting rotation is Scott Diamond, Sam Deduno, Brian Duensing and Cole De Vries. We might be able to assume that Liam Hendriks will take Blackburn’s rotation spot, but at this point, we don’t know that for certain.

    Below, I will outline what I would like to see the Twins do with their starting rotation in September, if not sooner:

    THE GOAL

    Again, I think it’s important to understand the logic in what is trying to be accomplished. In my opinion, the Twins front office has to make some tough decisions for next year. Can they count on Liam Hendriks? Which of the starters should stay on the 40 man roster, much less go to spring training attempting to win a 5th starter job or a long-relief job.

    THE PLAN


    To be able to see more pitchers, I would recommend a six-man starting rotation. I’d be against it under normal circumstances, but I think it’s important to see what several of these guys can do when asked to throw five to seven innings.

    WHO IS OUT (OF THE ROTATION)?


    Well, one of my recommendations was going to be to get Nick Blackburn out of the starting rotation. Whether it was to the bullpen of released, I think we have all seen enough of his starts.

    Cole De Vries
    has shown me enough to likely stay on the 40 man roster and be able to compete for a 5th starter/long reliever/#6-7 starter job.

    Brian Duensing
    should be in the bullpen, regardless of how well he pitched last night. He has shown that he can start when needed. His roster spot is very safe as he is a tremendous left-handed reliever.

    WHO STARTS?


    #1 – Scott Diamond – He has made himself into the one given for the Twins Opening Day starting rotation. He has thrown 162.2 innings so far in 2012 after pitching 162 innings last year. If you subscribe to the belief that a pitcher should pitch no more than 20% more innings than the previous season, that means Diamond should throw about 195 innings. Going to six starters will likely mean one less start and they can still monitor his innings because of extra relievers.

    #2 – Sam Deduno – Yes, I know he’s got 36 walks and 30 strikeouts in 46 innings. But he also has a 4-1 record and a 3.33 ERA. I know that there’s like a 99.8% likelihood that his success is not sustainable, but let me live in that other 0.2% for another month. What if he can find a way to relax a little bit and reduce is BB/9 from 7.0 to 4.2 or so? What if? I am so intrigued by how nasty his stuff is and how much movement his pitches get. The Twins have nothing to lose in September, so why not give his ‘stuff’ an opportunity?!

    #3 – Liam Hendriks – Yes, he has struggled with the Twins in a couple of stints this year. He was the Twins minor league pitcher of the year last year when he split time between AA and AAA and then was pushed too quickly to the big leagues in September. This year, he was with the Twins quickly and probably wasn’t quite ready. However, in 16 starts with AAA Rochester this season, he is now 9-3 with a 2.20 ERA. In 106.1 innings, he has given up 76 hits, walked 28 and struck out 82. He’s just 23 years old and has the background of success and the mix of pitches necessary to believe that he will figure it out at some point.

    #4 – Esmerling Vasquez – The Twins claimed Vasquez on the final weekend of the 2011 season. Just before spring training, he was DFAd to make room for Darin Mastroianni. He has been, arguably, the most consistent pitcher in Rochester this season. As a reliever, he is 5-4 with a 2.67 ERA. In 57.1 innings, he has given up 41 hits, walked 25 and struckout 50. However, he was recently moved to the starting staff, and in seven starts, he is 4-1 with a 3.16 ERA. In 37 innings, he has given up 27 hits, walked 11 and struck out 41. That doesn’t count a game that he came into with two outs in the 1st inning and pitched into the 9th inning. That K/rate of more than one per inning is certainly intriguing in an organization where that is a rarity.

    #5 – Jeff Manship – Next spring, Manship will be out of options. Since making five starts for the Twins in 2009 (including his first big league win in a must-win, last weekend start against the Royals), Manship has made just one start for the Twins, and that was in 2010. However, as a starter in Rochester this season, he has gone 4-2 with a 2.29 ERA in 10 starts. In 51 innings he’s given up 47 hits, walked 19 and struck out 32. I would give him a five to six start opportunity in September before making a decision, either way.

    #6 – PJ Walters – Although his overall numbers in seven starts for the Twins from mid-May through mid-June were not great, he certainly showed some glimpses. In his first four starts, he went at least six innings and pitched a complete game against the White Sox. But when the calendar turned to June, his struggles began. He didn’t go more than five in his first two starts, and then he didn’t get out of the first inning in a June 13 start against the Phillies. He hasn’t pitched in the big league since. He’s now working in his second rehab stint in Rochester, and went three innings and threw 59 pitches. Another start or two for the Red Wings and he should be able to make five more starts with the Twins.

    SUMMARY


    Terry Ryan and his front office staff have some difficult decisions to make on many players as they plan for 2012. I think a good way to get a look at a few of them would be to go to a six man starting rotation. Guys like Cole De Vries, Brian Duensing and Anthony Swarzak will become very important as well because there will be short starts and innings to eat, in all likelihood. Five or six extra starts is probably too small of a sample size to make final decisions, but coupled with AAA reports, it’s something more.

    What do you think of this plan? What do you think will or should happen, in your opinion?


    Photo by StarTribune.com
    This article was originally published in blog: Starting in September started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. TwinsGuy55422's Avatar
      TwinsGuy55422 -
      I would say the 6-man rotation sounds good. I want to see as much of these guys as possible and see what we have going forward. I really hope that Hendriks can figure things out be I think he has the tools to be reliable starter for several years. Admittedly, I don't know a whole lot about Vasquez but I would really like to see what he can do if given an opportunity. I should be an interesting month to say the least.
    1. JP3700's Avatar
      JP3700 -
      I like the plan Seth but I do disagree on Manship being one of the guys to start. I think we've seen enough in 4 years to tell us that he can't get major league batters out consistently. The guy I do want to see is Pedro Hernandez. He's 23.. Shown improvement every year he's been in pro ball and he's been outstanding his last 2 starts for Rochester. The experience should be good for him cause I have a feeling he has a good chance to be part of the twins' future in some capacity.

      I do want to mention that I really hope PJ gets 100% before he returns. People forget how outstanding he was early on this year. Watching him pitch.. he was never the same after his complete game against the white sox.. and I think that's where he hurt his shoulder. His next start he walked 5 batters when he had walked 5 his previous 3 starts combined in 21 innings.. And it just got worse from there. I remember wondering why his velocity was down to 84-86 in his last few starts before he admitted he was hurt. I don't blame the guy.. He finally got his shot and he wanted to pitch. But I hope this time he makes sure he's 100% so we can see him at his best. I want to see him have a shot at a rotation spot next year. I think he can be a solid #5
    1. glennhl's Avatar
      glennhl -
      I agree that they should give Manship a chance to start. He's been excellent as a starter, not very good as a reliever. Give him 5 or 6 starts in September and let's see what he can do.
    1. BMCACCAL's Avatar
      BMCACCAL -
      Going to six starters makes perfect sense. The Twins need to find out now what they have for next year or they will spend the first ahlf of next year doing the same thing. I disagree on one thing, though - you need to put Duensing out there every 6th day and find out if he can be a back end starter next year. Put him in instead of Manship. He's had his shots and he just isn't very good. The key is to get 4 of the following - Walters, Vasquez, DeVries, Hendricks and Deduno - out there as much as you can because we're really choosing between those four and maybe Gibson for two or three spots next year in a rotation that will include Baker and Diamond for sure and maybe Duensing. Whoever doesn't make it can be long relief and/or stashed at Rocheseter to replace anyone that fails or gets hurt, something you know will happen.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      I like the plan, but I think Manship is as good as gone next year, he just doesn't strike me as someone who will be an asset to a major league bullpen or rotation.

      If Hendriks steps up, man that would be huge! At least we could go into next season with the thought that Diamond, Hendriks and Gibson could give us 3/5ths of a decent rotation.

      Color me intrigued when it comes to Vasquez, his walk rate has been tolerable this year.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Manship? Really? Nick Blackburn PT 2

      Has been a tough year in the bigs. I don't think the Twins need to use innings to determine him as a viable starter. They already have enough 5/6/7 starters in the rotation without adding another.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I like the plan, but I think Manship is as good as gone next year, he just doesn't strike me as someone who will be an asset to a major league bullpen or rotation.
      Manship? Really? Nick Blackburn PT 2
      Two things... I guess I don't understand why people are so down on Manship when 1.) he's been very good as a starter in AAA yet only has 5 big league starts (4 of them were 4 seasons ago), and 2.) he's had such spotty time with the Twins over that time.

      You may be right. This may be the end of the line, but if I were the Twins, I'd want to know that I gave a guy with a 91 mph FB, a very good CB, a very good SL and a good Change up a decent chance.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      There are thousands of very good Triple A pitchers over the years that do not have what it take for the majors. Jeff Manship I feel falls into this group. He does not have the stuff to put good hitters away. He will do fine against light hitting lineups or possible the National League(read Marquis). The very good hitting clubs in the American league foul off the pitchers pitches and hit the mistakes. The lower ranking clubs with good pitching all have pitchers with stuff. Twins just have to get there and not be sentamental about it
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      I think Manships numbers this year in AAA are deceving, his 6.4/4.0 K/BB ratio indicates to me that his ERA should be much higher then 3.03, plus he has appeared in 49 major league games and hasn't looked good in that time, and is 27. Just not a whole lot of projection left, I guess he could be a stop gap #5 guy, but the Twins have plenty of those at this point.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      I picture that Swarzak could be on-the-line depending on arbitration. His likely successors are Manship or DeVries.

      We know what Duensing can do. Keep him in the bullpen.

      Rotation: Diamond, Deduno, DeVries, Manship, Hernandez, Walters, Hendriks -- get them all work at the beginning of a game.

      Let us see Guerra. Keep Slama around, please. Perdoma come back up. If you need to see Caleb, do so.

      On the bullpen bubble: Guitererz, Oliveros.

      Let Pavano and Capps walk.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      I hate the idea of a SIX man rotation. I like the concept of giving tryouts in Sept.--the solution. Shut Diamond down--he is going to be our number 1 or number 2 guy next year. He doesnt need a tryout.

      Go with Duensing (lets see if with regular starts he can be like last night), Deduno (I like him with his effectiv wildness), DeVries (we need to be sure), Walters (if he is healthy--that means adding him back to roster) and Hendricks. Manship, Hernandez and the rest get there shot in traning camp.
    1. nokomismod's Avatar
      nokomismod -
      Hi Seth,
      I like where you are going with this. My only disagreement is with Duensing. I believe if he is allowed to continue to start he will be an average to slightly above average starter again next year (similar to 2010).
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      I don't really see the point of a six man rotation when they can start limiting Diamond's innings through September. The guy has nothing left to prove in a lost season. Let him slide out of the rotation gracefully and prepare for 2013.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I don't really see the point of a six man rotation when they can start limiting Diamond's innings through September. The guy has nothing left to prove in a lost season. Let him slide out of the rotation gracefully and prepare for 2013.
      I agree. Why not let Diamond rest for next year and leave more room for others to prove themselves?
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      I think Duensing needs to be in the pen for all of next season.
      For better or worse Perkins will be our main closer heading into next season, Duensing needs to be our LOOGY who can come in in the 7th/8th to help supplement Burton.

      Though to be honest, I would like them to look into doing a closer platoon with Burton and Perkins.
    1. deanlambrecht's Avatar
      deanlambrecht -
      Let Diamond pitch up near the recommended max innings, using Duensing as his replacement in a 5 man rotation. I don't see why we need to see more of Duensing as a starter for any reason. With strategic use of Diamond and Duensing, we'd need only a 5 man rotation, and we can get a bit more of a look at the others whom we need to test out. But the general thrust of the Seth's plan is spot on.
    1. ltwedt's Avatar
      ltwedt -
      OK - I'm confused on the Nishi-Blackburn thing - please straighten me out -

      The Twins did not DFA, them nor did they option them, but they DID "outright" them. I get that outrighting them takes them off of the 40 man, and uses an option, where DFA does not use an option. Why is it termed in this fashion? Is it meant to further send a message to the two of them, that sorta goes like - we don't want you here either now, or never.

      Thanks - and I'll hang up and listen . . .
    1. JP3700's Avatar
      JP3700 -
      I think a lot of people are living in the moment from the win vs the A's last night on Duensing being a viable starter. Prior to last night he had given up 32 runs in 38.1 innings as a starter. He has a 5.31 K/9 ratio, isn't a ground ball pitcher, and still struggles to get RH batters out. He is very good out of the pen in short stints however and does have value.

      Personally I think we can cash in that value this offseason. Especially if we feel Robertson can step into his role. Seems to me a package of Denard Span, Brian Duensing, Alex Burnett for James Shields makes sense. Rays won't have a CF next year with Upton leaving and they have 4 veteran relievers that are free agents: Rodney, Peralta, Farnsworth, and Howell. They get 3 big league players with 3 years of control each and we get the ace we're looking for. We would have him under control for 2 years/21 million
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ltwedt View Post
      OK - I'm confused on the Nishi-Blackburn thing - please straighten me out -

      The Twins did not DFA, them nor did they option them, but they DID "outright" them. I get that outrighting them takes them off of the 40 man, and uses an option, where DFA does not use an option. Why is it termed in this fashion? Is it meant to further send a message to the two of them, that sorta goes like - we don't want you here either now, or never.

      Thanks - and I'll hang up and listen . . .
      Actually neither method uses an option. An option is used when a player IS on the 40-man roster. The player is sent on OPTIONAL assignment to the minor leagues.

      A player is usually DFA'd when he hasn't cleared waivers yet.

      When they "outright" a player it means they have cleared waivers.

      Also, Thrylos mentioned that there 4 types of waivers. And the outright waivers would get them out from under Blackburn's contract if he would refuse the assignment.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Seth, I really know that for some reason you are high on Manship, but he has been worse that Blackburn in any of the 3 chances he got to pitch in the majors. Out of options in 2013. I think we can pretty much say that he is not in the Twins' plan for 2013. Also, the same with Walters. Horrible peripherals, horrible 88 mph FastBall etc. Matter of fact, I'd rather see them add BJ Hermsen to the 25 man roster and have him start a couple of games instead of Walters and Manship who are not going anywhere in 2013. Hermsen might make himself part of the equation next season and he needs to be added to the 40-man next season. And doing this this September instead nor they use any option neither his clock starts. Or Pedro Hernandez. He should be in the equation as well, maybe ahead of Hermsen. But no Manship. (and no Walters either.)

      At this point, Manship is out there with Gray and Blackburn, IMHO. (and speaking of, DFA Gray and Free Anthony Slama where we are at it)
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