Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! It's Saturday afternoon and game two of the White Sox series is just around the corner, but here's a little light reading for you.
Twins promote Tyler Duffey to Triple-A
Minnesota is pretty deep in starting pitching, and nowhere is that truer than in the Double and Triple-A arenas. With very limited upward mobility thanks to guys like Mike Pelfrey pitching much better than anticipated, there's a cap on how many players the Twins can bring up to be a part of the Major League pitching staff. That's kept a couple of players lower than they might otherwise be, and one of those players is right-hander Tyler Duffey.
Ranked #20 on our Top 30 Twins prospects (as voted by the community), Duffey was forced to begin 2015 in the Double-A rotation after making three good starts in Triple-A to end 2014. To his credit he didn't let the stint in Chattanooga damage him in any way, and after eight starts (2.56 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 9.2 K/9) the Minnesota front office got creative in order to put Duffey where he deserved to be.
That Red Wings rotation looks pretty good right about now. Duffey is now the only right-hander in an impressive rotation including lefties Taylor Rogers, Pat Dean, Jason Wheeler, and Tommy Milone. Where's Alex Meyer?
Alex Meyer to begin stint in bullpen
It's possible Alex Meyer will remain in the pen going forward, but "that's not the plan," Rob Antony said. Trying to raise his arm slot.— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) May 22, 2015
Antony on Alex Meyer: "He’s the type of guy who puts a lot of pressure on himself and he feels like he’s letting us down." #MNTwins— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) May 22, 2015
Rob Antony on Meyer: "It's just to get him back on track. I think right now, as much as anything, it’s a confidence issue." #MNTwins— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) May 22, 2015
I asked Antony if sending Meyer to extended spring was considered: "We talked about multiple different things we could possibly do."— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) May 22, 2015
The way things have been going for Meyer, it was only a matter of time until something had to give. I was worries there was a health issue, but that doesn't seem to be the case. After his latest outing on Wednesday, where he didn't get through the fifth inning for the fourth time in eight starts this year, the same issues continue to arise - except now it sounds like confidence is a part of the issue.
Especially for a pitcher who isn't mechanically sound, confidence (or a lack thereof) can start to bleed into everything he does. Arm slots, release points, over-throwing, over-thinking; we've all been in situations where it feels like we're falling behind. It's natural to start to try and force things that can't be forced.
Hopefully Meyer can get sorted out and get back to being a starting pitcher. If not, as Berardino mentions, there's always the bullpen route:
Should Meyer take to his new role, it could expedite his long-awaited arrival in the majors.
New York Yankees setup man Dellin Betances, another towering right-hander who struggled with his command as a minor-league starter, rocketed to stardom last season at age 26 after moving to the bullpen.
Since the start of 2014, Betances has gone 9-0 with a 1.12 ERA in 90 outings for the Yankees. In 113 innings he has allowed just 54 hits and 34 walks; his nine-inning rates have been 2.7 walks and 13.5 strikeouts.
In eight minor-league seasons, Betances walked 4.9 batters per nine innings while striking out 10.1. He made the full-time move to relief in 2013.
Casey Fien's progress
It sounds like Fien's return to Minnesota has an exact plan. He's scheduled to pitch an inning of relief today, take Sunday and Monday off, and then pitch on both Tuesday and Wednesday. If he feels good at that point, he could be re-activated.
Twins release Brock Peterson
Minnesota brought former farmhand Brock Peterson back on a minor league deal over the winter, in the hope that he'd bring that Triple-A triple slash of .276/.354/.473 along with him. That hasn't happened. In 29 games, 24 starts came at designated hitter and just three at first. But his offense didn't show up and he ran out of time. The Twins have cut ties with Peterson after he hit just .186/.289/.351 in 114 plate appearances.
Kennys Vargas and Reynaldo Rodriguez will continue to take on the lion's share of first base time at Triple-A for the time being. When Dalton Hicks comes off the disabled list, there's a chance he gets promoted at some point if Vargas gets recalled.
Bullpen and the bench
As we found out, in spite of five relievers having pitch counts that would have allowed them to be available on Friday night's opener versus the Sox the Twins decided that keeping eight relievers on staff was in the team's best interest. I'm not sure about that, but don't trust me I live in another country.
It sounds like Paul Molitor isn't a big plan of the idea either. From La Velle at the Strib:
"I don’t think it is going to be a long-term deal," Molitor said of his three-man bench. "I don’t really prefer it, obviously."
Molitor clearly prefers having 13 position players and 12 pitchers on the roster. "I would say, whether it is going to be three days or 10 days, I don’t want it to be very long," he said.
The sooner the Twins get back to a four-man bench, the better. Oswaldo Arcia, whose return is depended on whether he can prove he's ready to help the big league club and not just "feel better," could be a part of that equation. So could Josmil Pinto. Ideally, both would join the Twins in the not too distant future.
Fien's return, as soon as the latter half of this coming week, could also be a catalyst to getting back to a 12-man pitching staff. At some point the Twins need to ditch two relievers. Tim Stauffer and Brian Duensing would be my preferred options, but seeing the club cut two veterans on multi-million dollar contracts would be a surprise.
We'll see you back here in a bit for the game thread. Enjoy your Saturday!