Thursday, June 1, 2017
Twins Sending A Message With New Arm
When the dust settled as Houston left town, the Twins bullpen had given up 28 runs (27 earned) on 29 hits in just nine innings. They struck out only three opposing hitters and issued 10 free passes. Any way you cut it, that's an implosion. Jason Wheeler was DFA'd, and Ryan Pressly was optioned to Triple-A Rochester. With two open spots, the Twins needed some revamping.
The brain trust turned to Alex Wimmers, and a surprise, Randy Rosario.
To be fair, Wimmers represents the same deck chair philosophy that I referenced above. Not meant as a shot at him whatsoever, he's a feel good story to be sure, he's just not going to move the needle in a big league pen. Wimmers is a failed starter, and a bust of a former first round pick. He threw 17.1 IP for the Twins in 2016, and posted a 4.15 ERA combined with a 7.3 K/9 and 5.7 BB/9. Expecting him to come into the pen and provide much of a boost is probably a stretch.
It's in the second transaction, the promotion of Randy Rosario, that is one of serious intrigue. Rosario was added to the 40 man roster prior to the 2016 season. He's a 23 year old lefty, and can push his fastball into the mid-90s. Over the course of seven minor league seasons, he's worked at least as a part-time starter all but this year. To his name however, he has thrown just 29.2 IP above Single-A, with 23.2 IP of that coming in 2017.
At Double-A Chattanooga this year, Rosario has posted a 1.90 ERA. He's limited damage by walking batters at just a 2.3 BB/9 clip, and he's tallied strikeouts at a 7.6 K/9 rate. Hits have been hard to come by off of him as well, regardless of the batter's handedness, given he's allowed just a .486 OPS to righties and a .490 OPS to lefties. In short, he's among the most promising arms the Twins have had in relief this season.
When Mariana Guzman of Twins Latinos broke the Rosario call up news, it came as a surprise. Sure, he's on the 40 man roster, but for a guy with such limited experience in higher levels of the minors, it could be classified as an aggressive move. Given the pairing with Wimmers however, it's worth speculating if Derek Falvey and Thad Levine gave Molitor one of his guys (Wimmers) and one of their choosing (Rosario).
There was a few reports out of Fort Myers that Molitor had campaigned for Wimmers to make the 25 man roster. He had a nice spring, and Molitor apparently preferred him over Michael Tonkin. Making the move at the same time, it's certainly worth wondering if Falvey and Levine are picking their spots with this group.
It probably could be argued that the expectation for extra arms would include one of Trevor Hildenberger or Alan Busenitz. Both have been very good at Triple-A, and seemingly could provide an upgrade at the big league level. Dipping down to Double-A though, maybe John Curtiss enters the picture sooner rather than later, and there's plenty of big name starters to keep an eye on now. Fernando Romero and Stephen Gonsalves could be inserted in the rotation sooner rather than later, and if the Rosario move is any indication, when Falvey and Levine deem they're ready, it won't matter what level they are at.
Coming into 2017, Molitor is under a lame-duck contract. He's being felt out by the front office, and it's much less about the results, than it is the process, that will eventually determine his future. As he continues to champion for certain players, make in game decisions, and interact with his new bosses, his fate going forward will be etched out. For now, that's too far off to be thinking about. What's in front of us though, is a GM that's not unwilling to get help from talent at whatever rung oif the organization it may reside.
Randy Rosario could be just the start, and the move is a linchpin into a narrative that's worth dissecting as the summer draws on.