I’ve been receiving e-mails about Brian Duensing, so let’s address this here: He’s not moving to the bullpen. At least not yet.
When the Twins re-signed Carl Pavano last week, it gave them six established starters for five spots.
Pitcher: 2010 stats
Baker: 12-9, 4.49 ERA, 170.1 innings, 2.3 BB/9, 7.8 K/9
Blackburn: 10-12, 5.42 ERA, 161 innings, 2.2 BB/9, 3.8 K/9
Duensing: 10-3, 2.62 ERA, 130.2 innings, 2.4 BB/9, 5.4 K/9
Liriano: 14-10, 3.62 ERA, 191.2 innings, 2.7 BB/9, 9.4 K/9
Pavano: 17-11, 3.75 ERA, 221 innings, 1.5 BB/9, 4.8 K/9.
Slowey: 13-6, 4.45 ERA, 155.2 innings, 1.7 BB/9, 6.7 K/9
Duensing posted a 1.80 ERA in 40 relief appearances, so he’d be a natural candidate to move back to the bullpen if the other five starters are healthy. But that’s a big if.
Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn both had arthroscopic right elbow surgery in October. The procedures were said to be minor and both are expected to be 100 percent for spring training. Then again, Joe Nathan had “minor” elbow surgery after the 2009 season, and wound up needing major surgery last March.
Slowey bounced back from major wrist surgery last year but wound up pitching just 155.2 innings, as he dealt with elbow soreness and a strained biceps muscle.
Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said the team will enter camp next month with all six of these guys vying for starting spots. “Hopefully they all stay healthy, and it’s a tough decision,” Anderson said.
The Twins could move their sixth starter into a long-relief role. So it’s not just Duensing. He just happened to be very good in relief last year. He also looks like the best seventh-inning option right now, but the Twins would rather have their other relievers (Jose Mijares, Pat Neshek, Anthony Slama, Rob Delaney, Alex Burnett, Jim Hoey, etc.) challenge for that role of setting up Matt Capps and Joe Nathan.
I have listed Duensing among the team's relievers in recent days to give readers a glimpse at potential 25-man roster combinations. But Duensing went 7-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 13 starts last year. Trust me, I haven’t forgotten this, and neither have the Twins.