It's the hot topic right now. Why isn't Jose Berrios in the major leagues? It's obvious that he's deserving, as he has a 2.67 ERA, 2.86 FIP, 9.93 K/9, 1.66 BB/9, and .213 batting average allowed. Any ideas of "he has things to work on" is ridiculous, unless it's a case where he's dominating hitters by throwing fastball after fastball, which could be possible but ultimately we wouldn't know because no one's telling us anything.
I try to avoid getting too emotional over roster decisions, but sometimes it gets to be difficult because the correct choice is so obvious that it's unbelievable it hasn't happened yet. Berrios' lack of a promotion falls into that category. He's dominated Triple-A, he certainly could be beneficial as this team fights for a playoff spot, and the team has been aggressive with other prospects (Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, and Byron Buxton) so there's seemingly not much of a reason why he hasn't been called up.
Now, we know why Max Kepler hasn't been promoted. The Chattanooga Lookouts are in the playoffs thanks to being the first half division champions, and the Twins are doing the Lookouts a solid by keeping Kepler down there to help them win. (Yeah, the minor league and independent league playoffs can get goofy sometimes.) If Kepler does make a September appearance as a Twin, it will happen once the Lookouts season is over.
As for Berrios, it's not quite the same story. The Red Wings elimination number from the playoffs is one game, and they're currently six games behind the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Keeping Berrios in Triple-A isn't going to help the Red Wings earn a playoff spot or win a playoff series. But, I do wonder if the Twins aren't holding down Berrios for another reason to benefit the Red Wings team.
You see, it seems odd that Terry Ryan and the Twins haven't really given an honest answer as to why Berrios hasn't been called up. It might be that he's approaching an innings limit, which would be frustrating as the Twins could have limited his workload last month. Maybe he really does need to change his approach, which seems contradictory to his Triple-A numbers but perhaps he's doing some Anthony Slama things on the mound.
Since I'm lost with their thought process right now, I gravitated towards a radical idea: What if the Twins are simply extending an olive branch to the Red Wings by keeping Berrios in the minors? Although the minor league teams are rostered by a major league organization's players, that organization and minor league team must come to an agreement to work with each other for a set number of years. Remember, this is how the Twins ended up switching their Double-A affiliate from New Britain to Chattanooga in the offseason. Affiliates can change for many reasons, whether it's geography, competitiveness, facilities, and more.
You may not remember, but a few years ago the Rochester Red Wings were terrible. Worried about the Red Wings being upset with them, the Twins signed several "Quadruple-A" players specifically to improve the Rochester team. Those players were not meant to be depth for the big league club, but it was a way for the organization to demonstrate that they cared about the success of their Triple-A affiliate. Likewise, could they be doing the same here with Berrios?
I understand that it's ridiculous, but we should note that quite a few prospects spent little to no time in Rochester recently. Eddie Rosario had 23 games before he was called up. Miguel Sano hasn't played in Rochester yet. Byron Buxton originally skipped Triple-A, but then was sent down there for 13 games between the end of his DL stint and his eventual return to the majors.
Admittedly, Alex Meyer has spent most of his 2015 season in Rochester but he's been struggling the entire time. Now, Max Kepler is the next one that could skip Triple-A and get promoted straight to the big leagues. Seeing all these hot commodities move without even getting a sniff of them can be frustrating for Rochester. Rehabbing major league veterans and top prospects can be huge draws for towns that aren't geographically close to a major league team, and I'm sure Rochester has benefited from the added hype every time Berrios makes a start.
I'm sure that there are other reasons in play as well, namely that the Twins could have an extra year of control of Berrios and they can prevent him from hitting an extra year of arbitration as a Super-2 player. I am fully willing to admit that I could be completely wrong here. But, when Terry Ryan and the front office can't offer a better explanation than "he's not ready" to us fans, I can't help but reach for other hidden reasons why Jose Berrios is stuck in Triple-A. Perhaps they prove me wrong and call him up once the Rochester season is over. Maybe he'll spend another half-year in Rochester next season. Whatever it is, there has to be more to this story than what we currently know.