Thursday, June 4, 2015

May Trevor Be The Bigger Prize?

It was the offseason before the 2013 Major League Baseball season was ready to kick off. The Twins were coming off of yet another 90 loss season, and this team appeared to be going nowhere fast. With poor pitching across the board, a reinvention of the organization was in need. That's when the roster shuffle came.

First, Denard Span was sent to the Washington Nationals for a top pitching prospect. Not a month later, Ben Revere was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies for two pitchers in return. It was Nationals prospect, Alex Meyer, that was regarded as the top of the rotation arm that the Twins so desperately needed. The Phillies sent Vance Worley, a regressed rookie of the year candidate, and pitching prospect Trevor May to the Twins. With plenty of promise tied up in each arm, the Twins were willing to let the chips fall where they may.

Fast forward to today, and the narrative has all but played out. Vance Worley played just one season for the Twins (pitching to a 7.21 ERA across 48.2 innings pitched in 10 games) before being sent to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Alex Meyer overpowered minor league opponents for two years despite struggling with an increasing walk issue. However, a disastrous start to 2015 pushed him to the bullpen in hopes to reclaim his past form. Then, there’s Trevor May.

In his first season on the farm with the Twins, May posted a 4.51 ERA in 27 starts at Double-A New Britain. While his 9.4 K/9 numbers were great, his 4.0 BB/9 ratio had the makings of similar scares Meyer brought with him. In 2014 at Rochester, May looked even better posting a 2.85 ERA across 18 starts with a 8.6 K/9, but the walk issue (3.6 BB/9) still remained.

May had shown the Twins enough, and to be frank the big league club didn’t have many quality options, to earn a cup of coffee in September 2014. His first 10 big league games saw him post a 7.88 ERA, and that 4.3 BB/9 reared its head at the major league level. As the calendar turned to 2015 however, May appeared to leave those issues behind.

In spring training, it was Trevor May that was in the thick of a heated battle for the 5th and final rotation spot. Despite eventually losing out to the likes of Tommy Milone, May impressed far more often than not down in Florida. With the roster shuffling that would quickly take place, May found himself back on the big league roster in short order.

Early results this season were mixed for May. An ugly first start was followed by his first win in which he ceded just one run to what was expected to be a solid Indians team. Despite a short start and a clunker in Cleveland mixed in, May seemed to make progress each outing. The walk numbers were down significantly, and he was throwing better than his defense was willing to help him look.

It was his 10th start however, and first of his career in Boston, that seemed to be the culmination of all the hard work put in. With Minnesota needing a win to avoid a three game losing streak, May put the team on his back. A seven inning, two-hit shutout, was capped off by striking out nine Red Sox batters, and not walking a single one. It seemed, all in the course of one night, Trevor May had arrived.

As it stands currently, May’s 4.45 ERA is nothing to brag about, but his 2.80 FIP (fielding independent pitching) suggests he’s been so much better. The biggest change for the Twins rookie however, is that he has all but abandoned his affinity to give up free bases. Striking out batters at a 7.9 K/9 clip (and leading the Twins with 50 K), May has walked just nine all season (a 1.4 BB/9 ratio). In reinventing himself, May has taken himself out of the discussion as the Twins 5th starter, and pushed himself to be regarded as one of the best on the bump.

There’s little argument to be made that Alex Meyer has not turned out to be what the Twins had hoped at this point. He’s a 25 year old former top prospect that has now been pushed to the bullpen. The days of him being a top of the rotation guy may be over. As unfortunate as that may be, it is in Trevor that the Twins can find promise. Despite not being brought in with the hype of Meyer, May was a 4th round pick on his own, and has begun to come into his own.

It isn’t all there yet for Trevor May, but there’s little doubt that he’s on the right path towards becoming a very solid pitcher. Although it may not have been the expected scenario, May is becoming the prized pitcher they believed they were getting the summer they traded their centerfielders away. It’s just the beginning, but it sure looks like a ride you won’t want to miss.

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