There has been plenty of speculation the last week or two about which Twins starter would be replaced in the rotation, and by whom. First, it was Kevin Correia, and now he has had two straight terrific starts including last night’s 1-0 loss to the Red Sox. Sam Deduno has had two very poor starts in a row, and now the discussion is about who will take his spot in the rotation starting on Thursday.
The starting rotation has been very impressive which means that speculation of who will make Deduno’s start on Thursday can lead in several directions. We’ll try to clarify that today, or at least arm you with what you need to know as it relates to the Twins decision.
While we are at it, we’ll take a look at some of the other players (relievers and hitters) in Rochester who deserve at least consideration for a call up to the Minnesota Twins.
RED WINGS STARTERS
We’ve been informed via Chris Fee that Sean Gilmartin has been called up to the Red Wings and will start on Tuesday. Yohan Pino will now start on Wednesday. Alex Meyer has been pushed to Thursday. Logan Darnell follows Meyer in the Red Wings rotation. Trevor May pitched on Monday night, and Kris Johnson pitched on Sunday. So, here’s a look at the Red Wings starters and their promotion credentials.
Alex Meyer – Meyer is the top prospect, the guy that we are all waiting for. He has been solid with the Red Wings this year. Meyer has a record of 4-3, with a 3.62 ERA. In 64.2 innings, he has given up 56 hits, walked 30 and struck out 76. We love the strikeout rate. We love the big fastball, and the fact that he has four pitches that most evaluators believe will make him a top of the rotation starter. That said, if you’re walking 4.2 per nine innings in AAA, that isn’t very good. It is his career high.
He is coming off of his worst start of the year. He went just two innings on Friday and gave up three runs on five hits and two walks. He threw 55 pitches before being removed. The start before that, he threw six shutout innings and gave up just four hits and a walk while striking out eight. The game before that, four runs in five innings. Consistency is a legit concern at this point for the 24-year-old, but there’s little question that he can be a good big league starter.
Yohan Pino – The Twins signed Pino in 2004. He was traded to Cleveland in the Carl Pavano trade in 2009. Since then, he’s been between AA and AAA but never made it to the big leagues. The 30-year-old right-hander is at least putting his name on the map as a possible call up. He is 9-1 with a 1.92 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. Though he doesn’t throw very hard, he has been racking up strikeouts. In 61 innings, he has 61 strikeouts to go with just 16 walks. He has pitched out of the bullpen and as a starter and done well in either role.
Kris Johnson – Johnson came to the Twins this offseason in a trade for Duke Welker, who was the player to be named later in the Justin Morneau trade to Pittsburgh. Last year, he led the International League with a 2.39 ERA. He’s doing just as well this year. He is 6-3 with a 2.60 ERA. He has 62 strikeouts and 28 walks in 72.2 innings. He did make one start for the Twins earlier in the season and went five innings. Johnson has struggled in two of his last three starts. Most recently, he gave up three runs on five hits and three walks in 5.2 innings. The start before that, he gave up two runs in eight innings. Three starts ago, he gave up five runs on four hits and three walks in five innings.
Logan Darnell – The 25-year-old had a nice ten-day stint with the Twins earlier this season when the Twins needed a bullpen guy who could eat multiple innings. In his one appearance, he was very impressive in three shutout innings. With the Red Wings, he is 2-4 with a 2.75 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. In 55.2 innings, he has 53 strikeouts, but he also has walked 24 (3.9 BB/9 IP). On June 8, he gave up four runs on eight hits and three walks in 5.1 innings. In his most recent start, he threw five innings and gave up only an unearned run. He gave up just three hits, but he uncharacteristically walked five. His spot in the rotation comes up on Thursday, making him the starter who is in line to start in Deduno’s spot without altering his schedule.
Trevor May – The speculation was that the 24-year-old might be the guy to come up to replace Deduno. Some of that may be because he was on the same schedule as Kevin Correia who two starts ago looked to be on his last leg. May made his scheduled start on Monday night. He wasn’t on a pitch count limit, to be sure. He threw 120 pitches and pitched in the ninth inning and gave up just one run. Control was his biggest issue earlier in his career, but his walk rate has drop from 4.7/9 innings in 2012 to 4.0/9 innings in 2013. After last night’s start, his walk rate is at 3.5 per nine. Like Meyer, May has the “stuff” and the prospect status that people believe will give him a shot to succeed in the big leagues.
Let’s just compare the stats of these five starters. Try your best not to look at the name and especially their ages when evaluating in your mind who has been the best, or is the most deserving of the promotion.
There is no statistical analysis that can look at the above numbers and say that Yohan Pino is not deserving of an opportunity. However, that’s where the statistical world and the scouting world will butt heads. Many will say that Pino doesn’t have the stuff to get big league hitters out. That may very well be true. However, my opinion (and maybe mine alone) is that when you put up those kinds of numbers at the highest level below the big leagues, you deserve an opportunity to just see. That said, if any of these five guys got called up, or get called up later in the season, it will have been earned.
If you believe that Trevor May should be the one promoted, they can do so creatively. They could have Darnell start for the Twins on Thursday, in his normal spot, and then after the game send him down. At that point, there could be a shifting of the rotation such that May would start on Sunday or Monday for the Twins as well. It can happen if they choose to go in that direction. That said, if it is Logan Darnell, he’s earned the opportunity and it would be nice to see him get a handful of starts.
THE BULLPEN OPTIONS
Real quickly I wanted to point out that there are a couple of good options in Rochester if the Twins needed a bullpen arm (and didn’t just move a starter there). AJ Achter and Michael Tonkin both have pitched well for the Red Wings. Tonkin has the name, and he’s on the 40 man roster, and he throws pretty hard. Achter is not on the 40 man roster, doesn’t throw as hard, but has consistently put up remarkable numbers. If they were to want or need a left-hander, Aaron Thompson should be considered.
Chris Colabello and Josmil Pinto were a big part of the Twins offense early in the season. They are each working their way back in Rochester, but a few other names are worth getting to know.
Deibinson Romero made a strong impression with his bat in spring training, and he has continued to rake in Rochester. He is now hitting .312/.407/.468 (.875) with 17 doubles and five home runs. He does already have 15 errors at third base, but his bat may be able to play in the big leagues.
While Romero is the hitter, the Twins have a couple of glove-first guys in Rochester who would have to be considered if the Twins need another utility infielder (they have several already). We saw Doug Bernier last year. He has been playing all over the diamond this year, and he’s hitting .288/.369/.412 with 10 doubles and three home runs. James Beresford has been the Red Wings second baseman. He’s hitting .293/.343/.360 (.703) with 11 doubles, a triple and a homer.
Eric Farris got one at bat in 2011 with the Milwaukee Brewers. In 2012, he went 1-8 with the Brewers. He came to the Twins a year ago and split time between New Britain and Rochester. He’s been the primary centerfielder for the Red Wings this year. He has hit .289/.328/.362 (.690).
So, there may not be as many hitters as pitchers putting up big numbers, but it’s always nice to know who could be next should a need arise.