When Jose Mijares went down a couple weeks ago with a bit of a freak injury -- he tore the meniscus in his knee while stepping on first base to record an out -- the Twins were placed in a bit of a bind. It left them with only one left-handed option in the bullpen, in the person of 39-year-old journeyman Ron Mahay.
When Mahay suffered his own freak injury over the weekend, a season-ending rotator cuff tear sustained while the veteran stumbled off the mound to field a ground ball, the Twins were placed in an even more precarious position. The only remaining lefty in the bullpen was Glen Perkins, who -- as I mentioned a couple weeks ago -- isn't a remotely appealing option against left-handed hitters.
So it figured that Bill Smith would be busy scavenging the waiver wire for a stop gap option to suppress tough lefties as the Twins wait for Mijares' return from the disabled list, which should come in mid-September. Unfortunately, at this stage of the season, the cupboard tends to be a bit bare, so all the Twins could come up with was Randy Flores, a 35-year-old left-hander who had been pitching out of the Rockies bullpen up to this point.
One might take a quick glance at Flores' 2.96 ERA or notice that he's held lefty hitters to a .220 batting average this year and see this as a quality addition to the bullpen. That optimism is likely to fade when one takes a closer look and sees that his average versus lefties is being held down by an unsustainably low .216 BABIP, that lefties are slugging .460 against him despite the low average, that he holds an ugly 18-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 27 1/3 innings, and that in the past four seasons he has accumulated a 4.96 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP.
Flores isn't very good, and his strong results this year are pretty clearly the result of good fortune. Lately, it seems his luck has been catching up with him, as opponents have run up a 1.068 OPS against him in six August appearances.
With that being said, the Twins weren't going to move forward without a left-handed option in the bullpen and Flores is clearly a better fit than Perkins. While it's hard to envision Flores as a particularly effective top lefty specialist, he'll only be serving as an interim fill-in until Mijares (hopefully) returns for the final stretch run and postseason.
In the meantime, the Twins will make do with Flores in most LOOGY situations, though Ron Gardenhire would be wise to turn to someone like Jesse Crain in extremely high leverage situations, regardless of what side the batter is swinging from.