Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Juggling the Rotation

Changes are coming for the Twins rotation. Scott Baker pitched in extended spring training yesterday and is scheduled to do so again on Saturday. If all goes well, he will return to Minnesota and the Twins will get back their best starter.

Of course, this means that someone will have to move out of the rotation to make room for Baker. Glen Perkins was initially called up as a temporary fill-in while Baker rehabbed, but with the way he's pitching, there's no way he's going anywhere. After earning his second win in the Twins' 6-1 victory over the Tigers on Sunday, Perkins now sports a 2.77 ERA in four starts. He has issued only four walks over 26 innings, which may be the most impressive aspect of his stint with the Twins considering his history. Perkins strikes me as a guy who perhaps dials up his performance based on the level of competition; his numbers in the high minors were never overwhelming, but he holds a 2.83 ERA over 60 1/3 big-league innings. As long as he can remain focused and aggressive, I see no reason why he can't continue to be successful with the Twins.

With Perkins performing well and Livan Hernandez and Nick Blackburn holding their own, Boof Bonser looks like the odd man out. Bonser has gotten poor results in the month of May, and while I don't necessarily think a string of four bad starts warrants a demotion (particularly when the peripheral numbers suggest that Bonser hasn't even pitched all that poorly for the most part), I would have no qualms with seeing him moved out of the rotation at this point since the Twins need Baker and everyone else has earned the right to stay.

Bonser is out of options, so he won't be heading to Rochester. The most likely scenario is that he moves to the bullpen when Baker returns. Pitching in shorter stints might help Bonser rebuild his confidence, although considering the first-inning struggles he has experienced at times this season, it could be that he needs to get into a groove, in which case pitching in relief may not be the best thing for him. Either way, it seems inevitable. Even though Joe Christensen wrote yesterday that Bonser's start against the Yankees on Friday "might be his last chance to keep his rotation spot," I believe the writing is already on the wall. Unless something changes dramatically over the course of the next week, I think we'll see Bonser in the bullpen quite soon. And as much as I've defended Bonser, I don't necessarily think that's the wrong choice at this point in time.

9 comments:

Andrew said...

Good read Nick. While I disagree with your comment that Baker is the best pitcher the Twins have, you raise some good points.

I, for one, would be in favor of a Bonser trade. I realize that he needs to preform better until we can cut the string on him, but I'm willing to wait. I think he will do just fine in a set-up/mop-up role.

Nick N. said...

Who is better than Baker? 1.09 WHIP, 29/5 K/BB in 33 IP, 3.06 xFIP. The ERA is on the high side because he was giving up homers at a kind of ridiculous rate, but he was pitching extremely well.

Tricia said...

..."and the Twins will get back their best starter." Sweet. I like Scott Baker as much as anybody, but did you ever think you'd be able to type a sentence like that with a straight face? I know what you're saying though. I always feel like the Twins have a chance to win when he starts a game.

Andrew said...

Oh, I agree Nick. It's just that so was Livan.

What are your thoughts about a possible Bonser trade?

Nick N. said...

Seems like the worst possible time to trade him, considering where his value is at. I'm also not convinced that the Twins have enough SP depth to trade one of their six major-league starters. Trade Bonser, lose Perkins/Baker to an injury or Hernandez to an imposion, and suddenly they're very thin and they're looking at a marginal guy like Mulvey or Duensing. Nice to see Liriano improving his control, but I don't suspect he's especially close to being major-league ready.

Andrew said...

True, like I said before, he'd have to establish himself in the bullpen before any trade.

I would almost favor bringing up Deunsing or Humber, though. Just to give them major league experience. Or would that just "spoil" them?

Nick N. said...

Humber doesn't look like he belongs anywhere near a major-league clubhouse right now.

Just an FYI to anyone who cares, there's not going to be a new post for tomorrow (Wednesday). I had a long day, I've been doing Rotoworld write-ups for the past three hours, and I just don't have it in me to come up with a post tonight. I'll be around here in the comments section tomorrow if anyone has anything they'd like to discuss. Sorry for any inconvenience.

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