Soon, very soon, Martin Perez will be in the starting rotation and the Twins can move forward.
And the Twins might just be at that point after Perez’s two innings on Wednesday during their 9-6 loss to the Mets, a rather spectacular loss thanks to the six walks they issued in the fifth inning. Stuff like that just doesn’t happen often, and this game has been played a long time.
Looking back at Wednesday’s frivolities, there are some things that need to be explained.
There were three culprits behind this loss -- the Twins coaching staff, Jake Odorizzi and Andrew Vasquez.
A lot of it started because of the determination to get Perez innings so he would have the proper endurance once he’s needed in the rotation. With five off days before April 12, the Twins have been going with four starters. So they crafted a plan to have Perez piggyback on a couple starters outings to stay on track.
The plan appears to have been a little too rigid.
Michael Pineda was lights out last Sunday for four innings against the Indians. He needed just 40 pitches during those four innings too. But the Twins stuck to their plan and brought Perez in for the fifth inning. It worked out, as the Twins went on to win. And Pineda didn’t seem too upset - at least when he spoke to the media jackals following the game.
Then Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told media jackals on Tuesday that Perez would make an appearance at some point during the two games at Citi Field.
That point came in the fourth inning Wednesday -- with Odorizzi yet to have given up a hit on 49 of his best pitches since joining the Twins. But he said he learned in the fourth inning that Perez was coming in.
So it looked strange to see Trevor Hildenberger warming up in the bullpen as the Twins batted in the top of the fifth. The plan was to pinch hit for Odorizzi, but his turn in the order didn’t come up. So Odorizzi was sent out for the bottom of the fifth.
Baldelli said he made sure Odorizzi knew what was happening.
“I’m one to probably communicate to make sure that guys know potentially who’s coming in so they can prepare for it,” he said.
Odorizzi said he learned of the plan in the fourth inning.
“That was my first knowledge of it,” he said.
And we all saw what happened. Odorizzi fell apart, and the Mets ended up scoring six runs on two hits and six walks in the inning.
It’s understandable that the Twins want Perez to be ready for when his turn in the rotation comes up. But pulling someone who hasn’t given up a hit yet looked strange to me. Have Perez throw to invisible batters in the bullpen until Odorizzi yields a hit. Pulling a pitcher no matter how well he’s pitching at the time is not going to sit well with all pitchers. Again, Odorizzi didn’t express such sentiment.
All of that said, er, written, Odorizzi was one pitch from getting out of the inning and needs to make it. Instead, he walked the bases loaded. He didn’t directly point to how he was affected by the plan as the reason for his struggled - that would have looked selfish.
But I thought it was interesting when he said, “It’s not too often you see something like that happen and just about every run scores. I’ll be happy to get back to American League-style baseball, I can tell you that much.”
That’s as far as Odorizzi would go. I can see why he would be a little flustered but, ultimately, he’s the one with the ball and has to make a pitch to stop the parade of free passes.
The third culprit was Vasquez, but I thought the kid was placed in a tough spot, coming in a few hours after his callup to replace Odorizzi with the bases loaded. Modern managing dynamics would have made a Taylor Rogers appearance in that situation totally justifiable.
But Baldelli said they felt that was a situation for Vasquez. He’s probably correct. Vasquez has a slider for an out pitch (seems more like a curveball, though) and three of the four batters due up were left-handed hitters. The first batter was Brandon Nimmo, who woke up this morning with a Sano-ian 46.7 percent strikeout rate.
If Vasquez gets the ball anywhere near the plate, Nimmo is going down swinging.
Instead, Vasquez hits Nimmo to force in a run. Then he walks the next two batters. He was as uncompetitive as a pitcher could be in the situation, and he admitted so afterward.
I thought the moment was too big for him. But, again, that’s not the way to show your bosses what you are made of.
So it’s hard to blame one person for what went down last night in Flushing Meadows. But at least the Piggybacking-of-Perez Plan is about to end, so the Twins can just focus on planning to win