Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Friday, September 15, 2006

Notes on the Rotation

ESPN had Matt Garza listed as the starter for Sunday's series finale with the Indians, but the Twins website has debunked that rumor, with the Twins deciding to go with Scott Baker in that game. There are a lot of angles to cover that stem from this move, so here goes.

First, let's start with the obvious. Had the Twins stuck with the rotation they'd been throwing out there, Sunday would have been Matt Guerrier's second start. He will now return to the bullpen, and I think that's the right move for the Twins. The main reason is that Guerrier has been a positive force for the Twins out of the bullpen this season, and his presence will be needed with all of the young starters. Guerrier was never going to be that much better than Scott Baker as a starter, and he's more valuable to the Twins as a guy who can come in about 2 games every trip through the rotation, to put out fires or eat up 2 or 3 innings. That's certainly not a role that you're going to put Scott Baker in, at least not if you want him to succeed. As a result, the bullpen got worse and the rotation didn't get THAT much better (and based on Guerrier's first start, not better at all). I'm glad the Twins made this move, because it smacked of desperation - and the Twins should not be desperate.

Second, I haven't seen anything official yet on who is going to start on Tuesday in Boston. The Guerrier/Baker spot in the rotation is normally followed by the Liriano/Garza spot, so it's possible that Garza will be asked to get that start. The alternative, of course, is to skip Garza and go with Bonser on Tuesday, Santana on Wednesday, and Silva on Thursday against the Red Sox. This is the option that I prefer. Garza has struggled the most of the four possible starters in that series (although he's also been cursed with some poor offensive performances, making his record look worse than it should be), and I think he's more likely to find success in a start against Baltimore than in a start against Boston. There are two reasons that I think the Twins are going to go in the other direction, however, with Garza, Bonser, and Santana going in the Boston series: 1.) It gives the starters an extra day of rest, which may be useful at this juncture of the season, and which takes full advantage of the off day, and 2.) it complies with the stated goal of having Santana lined up to start the season finale against Chicago on October 1. Here's how the rotation would look from the Boston series to the end of the season, if the Twins adopt the second plan.

Tuesday, 9/19 (@ Boston) - Garza
Wednesday, 9/20 (@ Boston) - Bonser
Thursday, 9/21 (@ Boston) - Santana
Friday, 9/22 (@ Baltimore) - Silva
Saturday, 9/23 (@ Baltimore) - Baker/Radke
Sunday, 9/24 (@ Baltimore) - Garza
Monday, 9/25 (Kansas City) - Bonser
Tuesday, 9/26 (Kansas City) - Santana
Wednesday, 9/27 (Kansas City) - Silva
Thursday, 9/28 (Kansas City) - Baker/Radke
Friday, 9/29 (Chicago) - Garza
Saturday, 9/30 (Chicago) - Bonser
Sunday, 10/1 (Chicago) - Santana

Finally, you see above that I put Radke as a possible starter in the Baker slot as early as a week from Saturday. We keep getting reports that Radke is playing catch and doing everything possible to get ready for a return. I think there is no question that he will start the 9/28 game against Kansas City, because he'll never be pitching again (you can forget a post-season appearance, unless his arm somehow is miraculously made whole between now and then), and that will be a chance for him to say goodbye to Minnesota. If Baker struggles on Sunday, however, and Radke says he's ready to go, I think the Twins may gamble and give him a start in Baltimore as well. The only problem is, that could jeopardize his last home start. The Twins have to worry about making the playoffs, however, so they'll do what they think is most likely to net them wins.


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