The numbers suggest three things about Twins left-handed pitcher Brian Duensing:
1) He is a better relief pitcher than starting pitcher, posting a career ERA more than a full run better out of the pen than in the rotation.
2) As a starter, he is still a better option than much of what the Twins have put out there this season -- and, if you consider that compliment too much on the backhand, his career numbers as a starter suggest he is a capable back-of-the-rotation guy: 23-22 with a 4.35 ERA in 59 starts. (Those are very similar numbers, in fact, to what Nick Blackburn posted in his first two full seasons in earning a four-year contract. Someone hide the check book).
3) The Twins aren't sure what to do with him. He has pitched as a starter and reliever in each of his four seasons from 2009-2012; he was primarily a starter last year, and it didn't go so well -- then again, for whom did it go well last year? He has primarily been a reliever this year, but flops and injuries pushed him back into the rotation. There, he has performed decently. His victory last night pushed him to 2-2 with a 3.77 ERA in his past five starts since moving back into the rotation following a dreadful run there in late June/early July.
Maybe he's destined to be one of those back-and-forth guys who gives a team versatility. That said -- and maybe this is crazy because of point number one and because righties are hitting .302 off him lifetime -- we'd rather see him get a real full year in the rotation in 2013, both of out necessity and because it means one fewer starting arm the Twins need to search for in the offseason. Replacing him in the 'pen is easier searching for more starting arms.
Pencil in Scott Diamond and Duensing. Find a way by any reasonable means necessary to buy or trade for at least a potential top-of-the-rotation (No. 1 or No. 2) guy. Decide what combination of newcomers (Deduno?), youngsters (Kyle Gibson at some point?) and bargains (?) are going to fill it out. And try to have at least some stability -- both with Duensing and the entire rotation.
Given where this rotation has been recently, the prospect of a pitcher who is consistently average sounds awfully good.