Brian Bass strained his lower back last night and is listed as day to day. I presume that means he's not available tonight, when Francisco Liriano takes the hill for the Twins against the dreaded Clevelanders. Matt Guerrier had to come in earlier than anyone wanted to relieve Bass and pitch three innings. So he's also unavailable tonight. Pat Neshek threw an inning last night, so he can possibly go. But the Twins like to use him every other day, which means he's not Gardy's first choice.
That leaves Juan Rincon, Dennys Reyes, Jesse Crain, and Joe Nathan to take the burden of relieving Liriano. If all goes according to plan, Liriano will pitch at least five innings and the Twins will have enough arms. But what if he gets knocked out early? Or what if the game goes to extra innings? I'm sure Gardy lost some sleep last night thinking about those scenarios.
One option would be to disable Bass and call up a fresh arm from Rochester, probably either Philip Humber or Glen Perkins. Neither has pitched particularly well in Rochester. But I chalk that up to disappointment. It's not uncommon for guys to think they'll make the team out of spring training and have a let down after being sent down. Both pitchers can pitch up here. So I don't think the Twins would worry about AAA numbers at this point.
If they don't make such a roster move, it's an indication of Rick Anderson's improved confidence in Liriano, based on his latest bullpen session on Wednesday. LEN3 reported a glowing report from Rick Anderson in today's notes column:
Anderson said a slight mechanical adjustment helped Liriano throw his slider much better, and his other pitches immediately improved.
"He was a totally different guy because the location of all his other pitches was great,'' Anderson said.
Either way, I'll have renewed interest in tonight's game. Hopefully Liriano can take the next step and pitch into the sixth inning. If not, hopefully they made the anticipatory roster move. If not, look out, because this is a key series and the Twins don't have an off day until Monday. They'll need arms this weekend with Blackburn and Baker going.