CHICAGO – Righthander Randy Dobnak, who has given up nine earned runs over his past two outings and has an 8.27 ERA over his past four, was optioned Wednesday to make room for righthander Jake Odorizzi. The club also optioned infielder Travis Blankenhorn and activated catcher Alex Avila from the injured list.
Dobnak and Blankenhorn were officially sent to the St. Paul site, but they are actually staying with the team and on the taxi squad.
Dobnak was one of the stars of the early short season, going 5-1 with a 1.78 ERA. Combined with righthander Kenta Maeda, the pair were the best thing going in the rotation for a stretch before Michael Pineda completed his suspension and Jose Berrios righted himself after a shaky start.
For a while, it was Dobnak and Maeda — and pray for Pineda.
But Dobnak’s past few starts, including Tuesday’s loss, have been laborious. He relies less on strikeouts and more on ground balls hit at his fielders. When the latter isn’t happening, he struggles.
“It was a very challenging decision with Randy,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Randy’s been so solid for us throughout. A guy that’s just been ultimately productive and reliable. So having to call him in and have that discussion was very tough.”
Dobnak, 6-4 overall with a 4.05 ERA, wouldn’t have been set to pitch again until next week, and the Twins have two days off and will only need a four-man rotation.
Blankenhorn started Tuesday and got a double for his first major league hit, but with Marwin Gonzalez getting over an illness and Willians Astudillo around as an emergency infielder and catcher, Blankenhorn was the odd man out.
Is Rogers that bad?
Monday was the latest example of how Taylor Rogers’ season has gone.
Asked to pitch the eighth inning, Rogers walked the first two batters he faced. And, on cue, both scored in a game the Twins lost, 3-1.
It was the first time since July 21, 2018 — 107 appearances ago — that Rogers walked two batters unintentionally in the same inning. In 276 career appearances, he has done it just five times.
But it fits into a season in which Rogers has taken some lumps. He has a 4.86 ERA this season compared with 2.61 a year ago. Rogers recently said some balls have fallen in that normally don’t. His FIP, which takes into account things pitchers can control and weeds out defense, luck and other factors, is 2.90. Last season it was 2.85, which is not a big difference.
Opponents’ batting average on balls in play is a ridiculous .412, a number that is bound to come down. Last season it was .307.
So while walking two batters is never acceptable, other numbers suggest that hitters are living large off Rogers at the moment.
Rogers is not totally a victim of circumstance. Line drive percentage off him is 30.2, well above his 18.1% rate last season.
And his strikeouts are down a little, from 11.74 per nine innings last season to 10.80 this season.
But Baldelli maintains that Rogers is pitching better than his general statistics suggest, and there are other numbers to support that.
“I think there’s also some other ways you could look at his performance and say he’s actually thrown the ball fairly well,” Baldelli said.
“But as far as getting him really dialed in and locked in to where we want him to be, of course he’s still working at that and probably not exactly where he wants to be one way or the other, but for the most part, you let players work through things, make adjustments with the staff, with the coaches, to get where they want to be.”
Setback for Garver
Catcher Mitch Garver suffered a slight setback Tuesday while working his way back from an intercostal strain. He took a foul ball below the belt while catching. The Twins hope he won’t need long to recover from that.