Thursday, March 26, 2015

For Twins, All Parties Win On The Mound

Update: Trevor May lasted just 4.2 innings today against the Pirates while giving up eight hits and four home runs. Both Tony Sanchez and Gregory Polanco tagged him for home runs, and extra base hits were sharp. May had a very strong spring training, but the writing is on the wall. Unfortunately May will get another chance after getting sent down to Triple-A.
As it stands, the Minnesota Twins find themselves at a critical juncture in the framework of spring training. Yesterday, Tommy Milone toes the rubber against the Boston Red Sox, and in doing so sets off the last go round for pitchers competing to win the final starting spot in the rotation. Following him, Trevor May will get his opportunity today against the Pirates. At this time, Mike Pelfrey isn’t slated to get another start. Breaking it all down though, does anyone really lose, or are the Twins just in a position to gain?

Looking at the above options, the Twins are in a markedly better spot than they have been in recent history. Having the opportunity to run a major league quality starter out five days in a row, without the inclusion of a Cole De Vries type, should only show up in the win column for Minnesota. Let’s operate under the belief that Milone ends up winning the spot however, and take a look at what the waterfall effect of that decision looks like.

Trevor May immediately becomes the most intriguing piece of the puzzle. As the youngest of the three, the Twins have the most to gain by keeping him a starter for the foreseeable future. While his returns last season weren’t good, he has looked sharp this spring, and still projects to be a quality starting piece at some point. If the Twins decide to put him in the bullpen out of the gate, it could spell the end of free agent Tim Stauffer’s short lived run with the club. The likeliest scenario would seem to be May returning to Triple-A Rochester until he is called upon again.

With Pelfrey being the least likely candidate to win the role from the get go, this scenario has been long in the works. Despite public comments by the team, Pelfrey has always seemed destined for the bullpen this season. Coming on to work in short bursts, the Wichita State product could be expected to push his velocity near the 97 mph range, and be a late game asset for the Twins. What Wade Davis did a season ago for the Kansas City Royals was truly remarkable, but if Pelfrey can follow along the same path, the returns may be promising as well.

Minnesota should have a very good idea of how this will all play out by the time Mag exits the game on Friday afternoon. Barring May being lights out, Milone didn't do anything to lose separation today. When the Twins head north, their rotation will be rounded out with quality options, and they have a handful of quantity waiting in the wings. For a team wanting to turn things around, that’s more than a good start.