Nightly Notes: Game #29
1.) Truly unfortunate that Scott Baker's groin injury came back tonight. Baker hasn't been brilliant this year, but he's been pretty solid (4.09 ERA after tonight's game, with a solid WHIP). If he has to be shelved for any significant period of time, it's hard to believe that it wouldn't hurt the Twins. Nonetheless, it seems to me that Baker probably needs to be disabled for precautionary reasons -- it seems that this kind of injury can linger, and the last thing the Twins need is for Baker to keep coming out of games early, or to start pitching tentatively because he's afraid of re-aggravating the injury. To me, unless the Twins are absolutely certain that he'll be ready to go for his next start (and how can they be after he just had to come out of a game that wasn't supposed to present a problem?), he needs to go on the DL.
2.) Before getting into the issue of who could be called up to replace Baker if he ends up on the shelf, it might be useful to look at what the rotation will probably look like over the next few days. The series finale tomorrow will belong to Boof Bonser, and the Twins have an off day on Monday. Nick Blackburn should then start on Tuesday against the White Sox, and Livan Hernandez going on Wednesday. Thursday's start would then go to Baker, so if he goes on the DL the Twins will need to make a move for the finale in Chicago. Boof can then come back and start the series opener on Friday against the Red Sox, with the Twins needing someone to start on Saturday. In sum: the Twins need at least one new starter this coming week (for next Saturday's game against Boston), and would need a second new starter to replace Baker if he goes on the DL.
3.) So who gets the call? Well, one spot is virtually certain to go to Kevin Slowey, who has been on the DL since April 11 (retroactive to April 4). Slowey made a couple of excellent rehab starts in Ft. Myers before going to Rochester for more rehab. In his sole start there so far, he went 5.0 innings and allowed 2 runs while rather impressively striking out 9 batters and walking just 2. While Slowey could be called up to make Baker's start if necessary, I'm guessing the Twins would rather get him ready to start on the May 10th, with one more start (probably on short rest) coming with the Red Wings.
The second spot, if needed, could legitimately go to any of the three impressive starters the Red Wings have had available this season -- lefties Glen Perkins and Brian Duensing and righty Kevin Mulvey. The likely call would probably be Perkins, who has been very good recently and who is already on the 40-man roster. His last start was yesterday, so Perkins could slot into Baker's start next Thursday with an extra day of rest. If I were making the call, though, I would probably go with Brian Duensing. Duensing would need to be added to the 40-man roster, but that's not a problem since the Twins only have 38 players on the roster right now. Simply Duensing has been excellent this season -- in 6 starts, Duensing has a 2.75 ERA and an outstanding 1.03 WHIP to along with a 20-6 K-BB ratio. If you're going purely by the numbers, then, Duensing has earned a shot (although it should be noted that 6 games is a pretty small sample size). Finally, Kevin Mulvey was excellent in his first few starts of the season, but he's regressed a bit of late and doesn't have nearly as compelling a case right now as Perkins or Duensing.
4.) Congratulations to Brian Bass on picking up his first big league win tonight after relieving Scott Baker. Bass was outstanding tonight, going 4.0 innings and allowing just 3 hits. That performance dropped his season ERA to 3.80, pretty solidly addressing my complaint that his ERA had been drifting upwards of late. I'd say that any idle speculation from the likes of myself that Bass needed to start pitching better can now end.
5.) I didn't listen to the audio of the game, so I don't know if Dick & Bert explained why Scott Ullger went to Jesse Crain in the 8th instead of sticking with Pat Neshek, but I thought the move was quite strange. I guess that's because I simply trust Neshek more, even though his 4.00+ ERA this season is not all that inspiring. I guess it simply came down to the fact that Neshek was missing the strike zone a bit. Whatever the reason, things turned out alright (and maybe that will give Crain some confidence), but I imagine most of Twins Nation (myself included) was rather nervous.
6.) It was nice to see Craig Monroe and Mike Lamb contribute offensively tonight. Monroe could turn into a nice acquisition if he can keep his batting average in the .265 to .275 range (it's now sitting at .280 after his 2-for-3 performance tonight), and he may start to see his playing time increase if Jason Kubel continues to struggle. Speaking of struggling, Kubel left 5 guys on base tonight in going 0-for-5, dropping his average to .245.
7.) Despite all the angst expressed by so many Twins fans so far this year, the Twins are in first place and are over .500 despite not playing all that well. In other words, if the offense hits like it should (*cough* Delmon Young *cough*), the starting pitchers continue to deliver despite their youth, and things ahead of Joe Nathan solidify in the bullpen, this team could be pretty good.
8.) Do yourself a favor -- if you haven't done so yet, go see Iron Man. The reviews have been positive for a reason; this movie is just fun. I'm no Iron Man geek, either -- until the movie was announced I had never heard of the character. I'm also somewhat hard to please when it comes to escapist fare. Robert Downey, Jr. really is perfect in the role of Tony Stark, and while there are a few cloying, melodramatic scenes (I think there's a universal law requiring these in comic book flicks), the movie was always enjoyable.
Labels: Nightly Notes