The Twins used 23 pitchers in the first half of their schedule. The big-league debut of lefthander Lewis Thorpe will make that 24. Sounds like chaos, although it’s not by current big-league standards.
The Twins received 77 of 81 first-half starts from Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda and Martin Perez. Devin Smeltzer and Kohl Stewart had two apiece, and are now in the rotation for the Rochester Red Wings.
As far as the term “rotation” can apply to the Class AAA staff in 2019. This is where you find the chaos that comes from MLB’s “rest-the-bullpen” paranoia of recent years.
“Sean Poppen is scheduled to start today,” Red Wings play-by-play announcer Josh Whetzel said Saturday morning. “Kohl Stewart is scheduled Sunday, but I have a hunch — just my hunch — that he’s not going to pitch, that he’ll be held back to see what happens with the Twins.”
Joel Skinner is the Rochester manager. Big-league catcher, baseball lifer, outgoing guy from previous conversations. Yet, on Saturday, he preferred not to take questions such as:
How much notice does a Class AAA manager get on holding back a starter? Do the Twins send a daily list of relievers not to use that night due to potential need in Minnesota?
Thorpe led the Red Wings with 14 starts before Friday’s promotion. Stewart is the only other starter in double figures with 11. As of Saturday, the Red Wings were starting Poppen, Stewart and Drew Hutchison, and piecing it together after that.
Rochester had 14 pitchers among its 25 players Saturday. Through 78 games, the Red Wings had used a total of 30 pitchers, with 14 “bullpen games” or “openers” among those.
“Actually, we’re better than most teams in this league with available pitchers,” Whetzel said. “Skinner is strong against using a position player to pitch, and he hasn’t done it yet. The Twins get pitchers here from Pensacola, even if it’s only for one day.”
Which puts Class AA Pensacola in a bind, but high-Class A Fort Myers is close, so the Blue Wahoos can draw on the Miracle, and so it goes.
I think it was Matt McConaughey who once said, “Pitching is a flat circle.”
More Rochester pitching notes:
• Gabriel Moya had six “opener” starts for 2018 Twins, six more for Rochester, but a 7.39 ERA got him designated for assignment Tuesday.
• Jake Reed has gone full sidearm in attempt to finally reach big leagues. Reed is lone Twins’ survivor as a hard-throwing bullpen prospect with Nick Burdi, J.T. Chargois and Zack Jones.
• Chase DeJong has a 10.06 ERA with 60 hits in 36⅔ innings. He made four starts for Twins last September, and Paul Molitor still was fired.