A week ago Ervin Santana made is 2018 debut with the double-A Chattanooga Lookouts and threw 2 innings (45 pitches) giving up 4 hits, 0 walks, 2 earned runs, while striking out 1. He was pulled early as there was a concern about his velocity, which topped out at 90 mph while he usually sits around 94. Because of this concern he will move down and pitch today for single-A Fort Meyers Miracle, according to Brandon Warne. With this development it is fair to think that we won’t see Ervin on the Twins roster until the end of June at the earliest. Whenever he is ready to make his season debut for the Twins there will be a tough decision for Paul Molitor to make on what to do with his rotation, and that’s what I want to address in this piece assuming the current starting 5 stays healthy.
Option #1: Demote Fernando Romero
As much as Molitor and Twins fans would not like to see this, I think it is a very likely scenario. Because of options (or the lack thereof) and performance, Romero is the only realistic candidate from the starting rotation. I couldn’t find data on minor league options (does anyone have a resource for this?), but I would guess that Odorizzi, Lynn, and Gibson are out of minor league options while Berrios has been the Twins best pitcher. That leaves Romero as the odd man out. In this case, he would be the first pitcher called upon after an injury or for double headers.
Option #2: DFA Grossman and move a starter to bullpen
This would be another tough decision for Molitor. Mauer is set to return very soon and I would think that will result in the demotion of Gregorio Petit, which then leaves the Twins with Adrianza, LaMarre, Grossman, and Wilson as their 4 bench players. If Molitor decides to go this route, then we would probably see LaMarre or Grossman as the player to be demoted which would leave a thin bench but a stacked bullpen. Personally, I think Grossman has earned the demotion but I thought that out of spring training too.
It’s not uncommon for a starting pitcher to get some time in the bullpen early in their career and with how electric Romero has been this year I think this would be a great option. With the way successful teams have been built the last few years it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Twins to stack their bullpen with another dominant pitcher. Only downside of this is that he most likely wouldn’t be available to start again this year as his arm wouldn’t be ready to throw that much.
Option #3: DFA Grossman and utilize 6-man rotation
See above on why Grossman is the position player getting demoted. To be honest, I think this option is highly unlikely but it is something to consider. Pitchers (and baseball players in general) are creatures of habit and by nature are not fans of a 6-man rotation. This option allow him to continue to face major league hitting and it allows the Twins some flexibility if they do have injuries. Again, I don’t see this happening but also wouldn’t mind if it did.
Personally, I would like to see Romero stay in the majors with whatever roster moves it takes. Realistically, I think option 1 is what is going to happen.
Which option do you think is the best? Is there another option I didn’t consider? Lets discuss!