One of the final remaining roster decisions the Twins had to make before Opening Day was who to give the last remaining bullpen spot to: either Gabriel Moya, or Rule 5 draft pick Tyler Kinley. Well, those foxes in the front office are at it again, because it turn out both Moya and Kinley will make the team. Instead, the Twins are putting Phil Hughes on the DL.
There were some rumblings last weekend that Phil Hughes was hurting, so this move isn’t a total surprise. Apparently, this time around, Hughes has a left oblique strain. Hughes has spent most of the last two years battling thoracic outlet syndrome, getting various ribs removed in an attempt to fix it. There’s no word yet about whether this current injury has anything to do with all the rib stuff.
Hughes starting the season on the DL means there are now two open spots in the Twins bullpen, and we can likely deduce that means both Moya and Kinley will make the team. However, it remains to be seen how long they will remain with the team — the plan had been to use Hughes as the fifth starter when the Twins finally needed one, which isn’t until April 11th due to an abundance of early-season off days. Hughes could be off the DL by then, but realistically, do any of us think he will be? He’s been a DL All-Star the past two years, so call me skeptical.
Assuming Hughes isn’t ready by April 11th, the Twins will need someone else to cover those fifth-rotation starts. The likely answer is Adalberto Mejia, or possibly Aaron Slegers, who are both on the 40-man roster but currently at Triple-A. However, the Twins also currently have an open spot on the 40-man roster because of outrighting our re-claimed friend Kennys Vargas, and could opt to pick up some other player on the waiver wire to cover those starts.
Assuming no one else is injured before the need for a fifth starter, Moya or another player with options would likely be sent down to Triple-A to make space on the 25-man roster. It may depend on whose arm is freshest at the time, as that was largely how Derek Falvey and Thad Levine made such decisions last season. Tyler Kinely, as a Rule 5 draft pick, must remain on the big league team for the entire year or be returned to the Marlins, and therefore cannot be sent down.