If you’ve been living underneath a rock for the past few days (which probably sounds like a good idea at this point), Major League Baseball followed in the footsteps of other professional sports and delayed the start of the 2020 regular season due to the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to that, Spring Training has been suspended. There’s no games between teams right now, and it seems that clubs will get some sort of guidance from MLB today. What does that mean? Who knows.
However, we do know that these changes will have some impact on some roster decisions for the Minnesota Twins. Of course, we would need to take a variety of factors into consideration. MLB could do some “Spring Training” games prior to the delayed regular season starting again. On the other hand, depending on what they tell clubs today, MLB may allow workouts and intra-squad games to happen until the regular season gets underway so the players still get their work in.
Either way, here’s some flash points on the good news and the bad news the Twins face with a delayed start to the regular season.
Byron Buxton will likely be ready to play full-time. It wasn’t certain the the Gold Glove center fielder would be near or at 100% once the regular season started. Now that it’s been pushed back, Buxton has more time to continue his rehab and get into prime shape for when the season does start up again. Expect him to be on the Twins’ 26-man roster and ready to take charge in the outfield.
Rich Hill will be out for a shorter period of time. Simple math: His expected return was June. There are fewer games now between today and June, so the new Minnesota starter will miss less time. What does this mean? Bailey Homer - also a new Twins starter - and/or whoever takes the fifth spot in the rotation could see less time as a starter. Of course, this depends on if MLB decides to play a shortened regular season or just push the whole season back.
Michael Pineda’s suspension will last later into May - or even early June. Unfortunately, his suspension hinges on schedule games and not what games would have been played. May 10th would have been his first day on the major-league roster, but it now seems to be pushed to May 26th. If MLB continues to push the start of the regular season back more, he would not be able to start until June.
The fifth spot in the rotation could be anyone’s guess. Without any Grapefruit League action, it’s hard to determine who will join the ranks of Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, and Bailey. As mentioned above, depending on the guidance provided to the teams, they could still hold workouts and play against each other (meaning Twins vs Twins). Before everything came to a halt, it looked as if Randy Dobnak had the inside track to the spot, followed by Devin Smeltzer and non-roster invitee Jhoulys Chacin.
Ditto on the remaining bench spots. Jake Cave, Willians Astudillo, and LaMonte Wade Jr were all competing to make the 26-man roster out of camp. It’s honestly anyone’s guess as to who will make it out of camp, but La Tortuga and Cave looked to be favorites. With Buxton most likely being ready to go, Wade Jr doesn’t seem to be a choice at this point.
...and ditto on the remaining bullpen spots. Taylor Rogers, Sergio Romo, Trevor May, Tyler Duffey, and Tyler Clippard are cemented into the bullpen spots. The fight seems for three remaining spots are between Zack Littell, Cody Stashak, Matt Wisler, and a bevy of non-roster invitees including Caleb Thielbar and Danny Coulombe. Whoever doesn’t win a rotation spot may end up in the bullpen as well. Littell, Stashak, and Wisler seemed to have the spots in their favor, but Thielbar could end up with a spot once everything is settled.