Righthander Jose Berrios has pitched well at Class AAA Rochester, and the Twins have expressed an interest in giving him another big league chance.
There has to be room in the rotation for that to happen. Tyler Duffey might be creating that room.
The Atlanta Braves sprayed line drives all over Target Field on Wednesday night, knocking out Duffey early before holding on to beat the Twins 9-7 to sweep the two-game series between the majors’ worst two teams. Duffey lasted 1⅓ innings, the shortest outing of his career. He gave up five runs on eight hits and one walk. He faced 12 batters, and nine reached base.
In his past three starts, Duffey has posted a massive 10.15 ERA. He didn’t make it through the third inning in his previous start at Boston. His season ERA has skied to 6.12, which would be the highest among starters in baseball if he qualified to be among the league leaders.
“Right now, he’s scheduled to pitch Monday in Cleveland,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “That’s really about all I can say about that right now.”
It would seem that the door is opening for Berrios to return to the Twins for the first time since he made four starts in late April and early May, going 1-1 with a 10.20 ERA. Monday also is the nonwaiver trade deadline.
Wednesday, Berrios gave up three runs over six innings on five hits and two walks while striking out eight in a 3-0 loss to Pawtucket. He dropped to 10-5 but still has a nifty 2.44 ERA.
Last week in Detroit, interim General Manager Rob Antony said Berrios was getting close to earning a promotion, and a Duffey-for-Berrios swap looked more realistic after Duffey was sent to the showers Wednesday having thrown only 55 pitches.
All nine Braves batters came to the plate in the first inning as they took a 4-0 lead, the big blow a two-run homer by Jeff Francoeur to center field. Molitor, trying to avoid using the bullpen so early in a game, sent Duffey back out for the second. He lasted three batters and was removed after a Freddie Freeman RBI single.
Freeman made it 7-0 with a two-run homer in the fourth before the Twins began chipping away. They scored three runs in the fourth, two on Kurt Suzuki’s home run. Miguel Sano hit a two-run single in the fifth to make it 7-5.
Freeman singled in a run in the sixth to put Atlanta ahead 8-5 — giving Freeman four hits and five RBI. The Twins scored twice in the sixth to get within 8-7. It was 9-7 when the Twins got the first two batters on in the eighth, but Eduardo Nunez bunted into a force play at third, and the Twins never recovered.
The Twins needed five relievers after Duffey was pulled.
“My job is to try to get to the fifth, at worst,” he said. “I didn’t do it. We ended up putting up plenty of runs, but it ended up hurting us a lot more than me pitching bad. Everyone ended up pitching out of the bullpen.”
Interest in Abad
With the Twins sending out strong signals that they prefer to keep starter Ervin Santana, the player most likely to be dealt could be lefthanded reliever Fernando Abad. The Dodgers were among the clubs that had scouts at Wednesday’s game.
Abad is 1-3 with a 2.61 ERA in 36 games. He has bounced back after a poor 2015 season with Oakland thanks to better fastball command that has made his other pitches effective.
“I know how this works,” Abad said. “The team is not having a good season and if someone needs someone, somebody is going to be gone. I don’t want to leave. But if it happens, I have to go.”