The Twins close another brief homestand today and head for the West Coast, where they will open a three-game set with the Angels on Tuesday. But not all 25 players on today's roster figure to make the trip.
Manager Ron Gardenhire said before today's game that the team is discussing reducing the bullpen to seven relievers, instead of the eight they are carrying now, in order to add another position player to the bench. That means somebody faces demotion, trade or release after today's game, though Gardenhire is obviously not ready to say who's being moved.
There are a lot of ways this can go, and it appears to be a difficult decision, so it will be interesting to see what Terry Ryan's chooses to do. Closer Glen Perkins, setup man Casey Fien and left-handed specialist Brian Duensing are obviously safe, but the other five have varying reasons to worry. Jared Burton has the highest ERA on the current roster, though he's also the highest paid and has been pitching better lately. Matt Guerrier has pitched very well, but he's 35 and doesn't figure to have many seasons left; he might interest a contender who needs to upgrade. Anthony Swarzak has been mostly good this year, albeit not as consistent as in 2013, but it's in long relief. Sam Deduno is a starter who couldn't keep his rotation spot; he's not a great fit for the bullpen, unless it's in a role like Swarzak's. And Caleb Thielbar has been good as the second situational lefty and gives Gardenhire flexibility, but he's used so infrequently -- he doesn't yet have 25 innings this season -- that the Twins would be able to absorb his workload.
Deduno, Swarzak, Guerrier and Burton are out of options, further complicating the calculation. There might be some trade interest in one or two of them, but at least a couple would be almost certain to be claimed if the Twins tried to pass them through waivers and assign them to the minors.
Injuries, of course, could easily change the Twins' plans. And there is a game today, after all.
Phil Hughes will start that game and try to keep the bullpen mostly out of it. He's thrown 10 quality starts in his last 11 games.
Here are today's lineups as the Twins go for their first four-game sweep of a series in more than three years, since June 2-5, 2011 in Kansas City. Their last four-game home streak came in the Metrodome, July 12-15, 2007 against Oakland:
De Aza LF