Lefthander Adalberto Mejia, who has missed over a month because of a muscle strain in his upper arm, will return to the starting rotation Saturday when he faces Toronto.
Mejia, 4-5 with a 4.47 ERA, has been out since Aug. 8 because of a strained brachialis muscle, but his rehabilitation went smoothly, Twins manager Paul Molitor said. Mejia started for Class AA Chattanooga on Saturday in a playoff game, holding Montgomery to one hit over five innings with five strikeouts. He threw 73 pitches.
So the Twins are willing to drop him right into the playoff percolator to face a Blue Jays team that has hit .231 against lefthanded starters and .245 against righthanded starters. Righthander Aaron Slegers, who gave up five runs over four innings in his last start Sept. 6 against Tampa Bay, will shift to the bullpen.
"With Mejia, he has done some good things for us this year," Molitor said. "His rehab has been efficient. He's proven that he is ready to come back, and hopefully help us.
"And that's really the first day I need to slot someone in without Slegers being in the rotation."
Molitor was warned about Gabriel Moya's unusual delivery when he was called up from Class AA Chattanooga. But it's another thing to see it in person.
Moya came on to pitch the final inning of the Twins' 16-0 victory over the Padres on Tuesday, and his herky-jerky motion — he quickly raises and kicks out his right leg before he gets set, then pumps his hands before he delivers — and the manager got to analyze it firsthand.
"It's … busy," Molitor said. "I don't know if it adds to his effectiveness. I think, despite everything he does to get set, when he does deliver, that little twist probably helps him hide the baseball."
Moya's fastball averaged 90.7 miles per hour Tuesday, and it does look like he benefits from some deception. But he also was called for a balk when he didn't come totally set. He will have to guard against that, with the kind of delivery that will put umpires on alert.
"He was sent a message," Molitor said.
Staff and players are supposed to start arriving in Florida later this week to begin Instructional League, which is like an extra training camp for minor leaguers at the lower levels. But Hurricane Irma's rampage through the state has forced a delay.
While prospects are able to work on skills, there normally would be Instructional League games with other teams. But it's hard to play games when there are power outages, gas shortages and recovery efforts throughout the state.
"Instructional League is currently being delayed," Twins General Manager Thad Levine said. "We are polling other Florida-based teams. We are discussing means to supplement instructs in the event that it gets meaningfully truncated."
• Miguel Sano (stress reaction in left shin) hit early in the cage Wednesday but did not run. Molitor said the club decided to back him off after having Sano do more Tuesday. Molitor still won't put a timetable on exactly when Sano could appear in a game. Sano, meanwhile, had a smile on his face as he moved through the clubhouse before the game.
"I'm working," he said.
• Hitting coach James Rowson returned to the Twin Cities on Tuesday night after riding out Hurricane Irma in Florida with his family. He showed up to the park in time for the game, but missed batting practice. Players gave him some grief for his tardiness — then went out and hit seven home runs and scored 16 runs against the Padres.