Another long night for an abused front-end of a bullpen, and another excuse for the Twins to find a way to improve their relief corps.
On Thursday the Tampa Bay Rays won their claim on relief pitcher Chad Bradford, which of course means that the Twins didn't make a claim on the effective right-handed veteran. Also last week, Scott Schoeneweis cleared waivers, and in spite of being less effective in his career than Bradford has had a pretty good season. As far as anyone knows, there hasn't been a move made on the southpaw from the Mets, either.
Minnesota has publicly stated that they'd like to locate another arm for their bullpen heading into the dog days of summer. While there are still three weeks left in the month with which to find that perfect solution on the waiver wire, in the mean time the pitchers we currently have are either over-extended or rusty. Or so it seems. As we're accustomed to, at some point the Twins will need to look to Rochester to find relief. Pun intended.
The Red Wings don't boast an obvious answer. There isn't a flame throwing rocket arm and there isn't a breaking ball magician waiting in the wings. But there is a small handful of pitchers who've done well, and since the minors is the most likely place for the Twins to get their extra arm that's where we'll turn our focus. When the information is available, I've given brief info on each of the starter's pitches, as well as velocities for each.
Philip Humber, flyball pitcher, fastball (90-92), curve (77), change (82-84): Sometimes starter, sometimes reliever, Humber looked like he'd turned a corner this year until his last start. He gave up four runs on seven hits over 3.1 innings on Thursday. Still, in his four starts since returning to the Red Wings' rotation he's 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 24 innings, with 25 strikeouts and seven walks. With Glen Perkins taking time off to be with his wife as she goes into labor, you could even see Humber join the Twins for a spot start or two.
Bobby Korecky, fastball (89-92), slider (78-81), change (82-84): After what you could dub a successful brief stint with the Twins earlier in the season, and knowing how the organization runs its personnel, Korecky has to be another favorite to earn a promotion. He's having a good season in Triple-A, and over his last few appearances has sharpened his stat line. Logging 12 innings over his last 10 appearances, Korecky is sporting a 2.25 ERA in that span with 18 strikeouts, just seven hits and a trio of walks. Left-handed hitters do have some success against him (.293 opponent average), but right-handed hitters often seem lost (.198 average, 38 K's in 34 innings).
Ricky Barrett, fastball (90-92), slurve, change: A strikeout machine jonesing for a chance with the Twins, Barrett's a southpaw who can manage hitters no matter which side they dig in from. Over his last seven appearances, he's struck out nine batters and walked three, allowing six hits and just a pair of runs. The opposition is barely over the Mendoza line against Barrett on the season, managing just a meager .204 average.
Mariano Gomez fastball (88-91), curve, change: Another lefty, Gomez allows about a hit per inning, but has been just as effective on the season. Over his last 10 appearances he's struck out 11 and walked three, posting a 3.55 ERA. Hitters are hitting .266 (LH) and .267 (RH) off of him on the season, but he's been bred to pitch at least an inning which gives him more value than a traditional LOOGY.
Kevin Mulvey, fastball (90-93), slider, curve, change: Mulvey's been flying a little under the radar this season, but he's thrown three consecutive quality starts for the Red Wings. So if the Twins need a spot starter and aren't ready for Humber, they could see Kevin as a better solution. He also gives up about a hit per inning, and his strikeout numbers aren't as sexy as some guys on the list, yet Mulvey has been very effective starting for Rochester this season and may be one of the pitchers closest to being Major League ready.
So who do you want? Season stats from Rochester are below.