Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Twins Facing A Rotation Shuffle

The Minnesota Twins are 8-11 through their first 19 games of the 2015 Major League Baseball season. Across those contests, surprisingly enough, it's the odd man out that holds claim to the best ERA. Mike Pelfrey currently owns a 2.65 ERA through his first three starts of 2015, with his rotation partners falling in behind. However, with arms coming into the fray, the Twins have some decisions to make.

Ricky Nolasco recently pitched in Cedar Rapids for a rehab stint and appears close to returning to the mound for the Twins. Alex Meyer was virtually unhittable in his last start for the Rochester Red Wings, and while holding his walks in check, looked the part of a big league pitcher. Another strong start could put him in contention for a callup sooner rather than later. Taylor Rogers owns a shiny 2.00 ERA through four starts for Rochester as well, and should be considered part of the conversation soon as well. So what do the Twins do?

Right now, the big league club has a plethora of options, but that's not to say all of them reside in the land of quality. Tommy Milone was off to a good start before getting hit around by the Tigers. Phil Hughes actually has been better in 2015 than he started in 2014, even with the numbers being less than ideal. The jury remains out on Kyle Gibson, and Trevor May is teetering on doing just enough to stay relevant right now.

Paul Molitor is first going to have to figure out which domino falls when he inserts Nolasco back into the rotation. There's no doubt Nolasco has to start. His contract and commitment the team has to him is a trump card still, and will unseat someone from the bump. The likely option is May, and while I wouldn't be a huge fan of that, the options aren't plentiful. Molitor could choose to keep May at the major league level in a bullpen role (because there's no doubt the Twins need help there), but that would take away valuable starts from the young pitcher.

If Terry Ryan walked away from his recent trip to Rochester impressed with what he saw from Meyer, there's little doubt his promotion could be coming soon as well. When it does, the Twins will likely be looking to move him into a starting role. Operating under the assumption that May is already removed, the Twins would need to select another guy to look past. Pelfrey has pitched himself into contention, and Tommy Milone could conceivably become the odd man out. Milone was forced to Triple-A last season with the Oakland Athletics, but there's no doubt that the staff in California was significantly better than what the Twins currently employ.

With the big league club having to get creative in shuffling arms, the discussion begins to revolve around quality rather than quantity. Minnesota appears to have somewhere around eight big league options, but they need to figure out how to get the best five into the rotation. Molitor may be forced to go with a shorter leash with certain players, but that brings the risk of too much fluidity. There's no doubt that with pitching being what it is, the Twins situation on the mound over the next month is one to monitor.

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