The evidence suggests the idea to hit Bryce Harper with a pitch came from the brain of San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland and not his manager Bruce Bochy. There was a report on Tuesday suggesting that Strickland actually had told Buster Posey of his intention to drill Harper, and for the catcher to make no move to prevent Harper from charging the mound.
Also Tuesday, it was announced that major league baseball intended to suspend Harper for four games and Strickland for six. Both will appeal, with the Nationals missing a great deal more without Harper for four days than the Giants without Strickland for six.
Strickland hit Harper in the right hip with a 98-mile-per-hour fastball. This led to a discussion on Tuesday:
If the Twins had a grievance with an opponent that they considered to be HBP worthy, what reliever would be assigned the task?
Ryan Pressly would be the obvious answer, since he has been known to hit 98 with his fastball. Trouble is, Pressly has been so discombobulated for most of this season that if he tried to drill a left-handed hitter the pitch might wind up in the right-handed batter’s box.
Brandon Kintzler is next among the relievers with a fastball that’s frequently at 95. The complication there is it might hit the target in the top of a shoe, since most of Kintzler’s fastballs are sinkers.
Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers have been the Twins’ best relievers, but they are not hard throwers. And the remaining group for Tuesday night’s bullpen consisted of Matt Belisle, Craig Breslow, Buddy Boshers and rookie Jason Wheeler.
Drew Rucinski, a journeyman righthander, was sent back to Rochester after a one-day stay. Boshers, a journeyman lefthander, was the replacement. Rucinski has had two quick stays with the Twins and this will be the third for Boshers.
Wheeler is a starter who was brought in as protection after Sunday’s excruciating 15-inning, 6 ½-hour death march vs. Tampa Bay. He’s a big gent but doesn’t throw hard.
There can’t be another team in the major leagues with fewer mid-90s relievers than the Twins (two). And there can’t be another team with relievers that feature as many fastballs in the 80s.
It is absolutely stupefying the Twins keep bringing in veteran deckhands such as Rucinski and Boshers to mop up lost causes rather than to take a look at prospects with live arms:
Righthanders Trevor Hildenberger and Alan Busenitz at Class AAA Rochester, and lefthander Mason Melotakis and righthander John Curtiss at Class AA Chattanooga.
You get into the eighth inning, as did the Twins on Monday, and you have to go back to Belisle -- when he’s been reeling and obviously is cooked after throwing 30 pitches on Sunday?
You have to do that because the manager has been provided with relievers that he doesn’t trust to put into a game that’s still winnable.
Baseball boss Derek Falvey and his brain trust have been making the decision to provide Paul Molitor with journeymen of minor resume rather than a rookie with a chance to become a trusted asset in the bullpen.