With today's recall of Caleb Thielbar, whose job will be to buffer the multitude of innings that have been loaded onto the Twins bullpen so far this spring, and subsequent demotion of Pedro Hernandez to Triple-A, the question has to be asked: who will start for the Minnesota Twins on Friday?
The popular choice on the radio and online is Kyle Gibson, for obvious reasons. The Twins haven't exactly been a burgeoning bastion of talent in terms of starting pitchers recently, and Gibson has had us chomping at the bit since we thought he was going to debut back in 2011. The arm issues and subsequent Tommy John surgery pushed that timetable back nearly two years, but following yesterday's three-hit shutout for the Red Wings you can see how he's forcing the issue. While the front office has continually and justifiably maintained that they needed more consistency from Gibson before he was called up (his last five starts have seen him go 9 innings, 3 innings, 9 innings, 4.2 innings and 6 innings), there's not too much happening in the Major League rotation to help the organization enforce that philosophy.
Gibson's Sunday start means that when the Twins need a fifth arm to go this Friday, he could take the hill on regular rest. Cole De Vries certainly isn't ready following his first start for the Red Wings, and Andrew Albers isn't on the 40-man roster, but here are two other pitchers who could usurp his rise.
In three starts for Rochester, Deduno has chalked up 16.2 innings, 17 strikeouts, 10 walks and six runs (five earned). He last started on May 16, though, which means he would be due to pitch today or tomorrow. If the Twins really felt that he was the guy who best deserved the opportunity, though, they'd make sure he got it. But if the Twins are looking for consistency from Gibson, then no doubt they're looking for some from Deduno as well. His last time out he struck out eight and walked just two, so that's an improvement.
After his 2011 debut and logging more than 60 innings in 2012, Walters has been the picture of consistency for the Red Wings. The draw back to Walters is that, like Hernandez, he's unlikely to be any kind of a long-term option. Sometimes that's a bonus when you're looking to avoid long-term options, but in the case of the Twins it would be just another Band Aide as they continue to search for pieces of their future. An even bigger issue is that, like Albers, Walters is not on Minnesota's 40-man roster.
Virgil Vasquez. Shairon Martis. Liam Hendriks. For differing reasons, these three pitchers can be placed in the same column as De Vries and Albers. They aren't options.
And looking between Deduno and Walters, I'm not sure what message the front office would be sending if they picked either player over Gibson. Unless they are looking to simply give Gibson one or two more chances at Triple-A before his promotion, which I can't justify but could still see happening, then the only true option they have is to give their 2009 first round pick the callup we've all been waiting for.
How do you feel about it? Is there any chance that Friday's starter will NOT be Kyle Gibson?