With yesterday's double-header in the rear view mirror, the Twins have four games left on the regular season schedule. Tyler Duffey will be making his scheduled start tonight, with Ervin Santana getting his turn on Friday. Earlier today it was confirmed that Tommy Milone would take the nationally televised game versus the Royals on Saturday afternoon.
But who gets Sunday and steps up for Game 162?
Phil Hughes gave the Twins an inning of relief yesterday, but otherwise hasn't started since last Wednesday. Those 12 pitches shouldn't stop him from being available to throw 70 or 80 pitches on Sunday if that's the way Paul Molitor wanted to go. Ricky Nolasco's two innings yesterday were fairly disastrous, and I doubt he'd be asked to start. Mike Pelfrey's performance yesterday likely means he's thrown his last pitch in a Twins uniform.
The only other option is Kyle Gibson, who has volunteered to start Sunday's contest on four days' rest. Indeed, it appears that Paul Molitor is leaning towards giving the start to the 27-year old right-hander. Minnesota's best and most consistent pitcher all season, it's great to see Gibson willing to shoulder that load. That last game of the season will be huge, and I don't think there's a more deserving pitcher to get the call.
The closer we get to the season's final day, the more likely it is that we'll need to see Sunday play out before we know exactly how the American League playoff picture looks. Really, it's doubtful that 162 games is enough. Should the season need to go to 163 games, Minnesota's best options look like Phil Hughes or Ervin Santana. Per Mike Berardino's article linked above it sounds like if Hughes feels well enough he could get the tiebreaker, with Santana being the back-up option.
We'll see you back here in a bit for tonight's game thread!