Is Liam Hendriks Ready to Pitch for the Twins?

May 2, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Minnesota Twins starter Liam Hendriks (62) pitches against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

According to Ben Goessling of the Pioneer Press, the Twins could recall Liam Hendriks for a start next weekend. If that's the case I have to wonder why the team continues to hold eight relief pitchers. Jeff Manship could certainly start, particularly with enough notice. Nick Blackburn, P.J. Walters, Scott Diamond, and even Francisco Liriano could start again before the Twins would need a fifth starter on Saturday.

Still, it seems this is the direction the Twins are leaning, as they said that Hendriks...

...could return to the majors on Saturday and start for the Minnesota Twins against the Milwaukee Brewers, manager Ron Gardenhire said Sunday, June 10.

Gardenhire said the Twins haven't made a decision about a starter for Saturday's game, but they can't recall Cole De Vries from the minors until Sunday, which means Hendriks seems all but certain to get the start.

Goessling goes on to talk about his performance with the Red Wings:

The Twins kept Hendriks in the minors after a couple of strong starts there in May, resisting the urge to bring him back until he got better command of his fastball.

"Everybody said the same thing," Gardenhire said. "They set up outside, he throws it inside. They set up inside, he throws it outside."

But Hendriks struck out 10 in 8 2/3 innings on Saturday, allowing just three hits. And more impressively, he didn't give up a fly ball.

If Liam is to return to Minnesota, it's not about how good he's been for the Red Wings. The question is whether or not the front office believes he's sufficiently learned what they sent him down to learn. Command isn't something that magically clears itself up over the course of three or four starts, particularly when we're talking about a fastball. But command also isn't something that's a constant. It's about consistency, and we all saw a big lack of that earlier this season.

More after the jump.

Now seven starts into his time in triple-A this season, Hendriks has posted some fantastic numbers.

2012 - Rochester 5-0 7 7 1 1 0 0 46.1 29 11 10 3 13 42 1.94 0.91

It terms of performance, it's really never going to get any better than that. Herculean is the best word to describe how effective he's been. And in terms of rest, that's not really an issue: with his start on Saturday for Rochester, he'd be more than rested enough to pitch for the Twins next weekend.

The only question left to answer is whether or not Hendriks is ready. It's not about just plugging someone in, because if that's all the Twins needed they could turn to Manship or Anthony Swarzak. It's not about whether he's pitched well enough in Rochester, because it's obvious that he has.

Goessling said it himself: the Twins left Hendriks in triple-A as long as they have because there were clearly still things that needed to be addressed. If the Twins really are set on bringing him back for next weekend, here's hoping it's with a purpose. Little could be served by simply bringing him up for a spot start.

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