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Updated: June 21st, 2012 3:37pm
Brian Duensing will make first start of season Saturday against Reds

Brian Duensing will make first start of season Saturday against Reds

by Phil Mackey
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In need of a fifth starter on Saturday in Cincinnati, the Minnesota Twins will turn to left-hander Brian Duensing the team announced Thursday afternoon.

In 34 2/3 innings out of the bullpen this season Duensing owns a 3.12 ERA with 22 strikeouts, nine walks issued and only one home run allowed.

Duensing made 28 starts in 2011 with very mixed results. Overall, Duensing posted a 5.23 ERA with 115 strikeouts, 52 walks and 21 home runs in 161 2/3 innings, but his numbers against lefties and righties couldn't have been more different. Left-handed batters hit just .217/.242/.280 against Duensing last year, but righties crushed him to a .330/.387/.560 line with 64 extra-base hits in 524 trips.

Pitching in shorter spurts this year has increased Duensing's velocity and improved his performance against right-handed batters.

Because Duensing threw only 28 pitches in his last outing -- Tuesday in Pittsburgh -- it's likely he'll be on a pitch-count that falls well below 100.

The other possible in-house options for Saturday's spot-start were right-handers Jeff Manship and Anthony Swarzak.

Part of the decision to start Duensing likely has to do with the fact that Cincinnati's two best hitters -- Joey Votto and Jay Bruce -- both bat left-handed.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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