Weather, injuries and ineffectiveness leave Twins' rotation in flux
MINNEAPOLIS -- In a move that could somehow be characterized as surprising but yet not all that surprising, the Minnesota Twins sent right-hander Liam Hendriks to Triple-A prior to Saturday's tilt versus the New York Mets. Saturday's starter Scott Diamond was activated from the DL in a corresponding move.
It was surprising in the sense that Pedro Hernandez was not only injured in Friday's game -- he's day-to-day with a sore calf but not expected to miss any time -- but that the lefty was used in relief of a brief Vance Worley start after making a scheduled start Sunday in Baltimore.
It looked like a classic case of using a guy up before sending him out.
But it had become clear the Twins weren't entirely please with Hendriks' body of work thus far this season, particularly his pitch economy. Terry Ryan said Friday evening that the club needed to see Hendriks deeper into games -- via lower pitch counts -- but apparently by Saturday the club had decided it had seen all it had needed to see for now.
"We needed a spot, and it'll still keep us at 12 pitchers. It was that simple," Ryan said. "We got a little stuck. It was a tough thing to look at and maneuver around, but we felt we'd be OK at 12 pitchers. We have an off day Thursday, and Liam could use more time."
Manager Ron Gardenhire added, "We'll have Hendriks go down there and wing it, and see what happens here."
The fallout from using Hernandez to throw 73 pitches outside of a start does leave the pitching staff, or perhaps more specifically the rotation, in flux. There was brief mention of Vance Worley coming back on short rest Tuesday due to only throwing 57 pitches Friday night, but neither Gardenhire nor Ryan could delve into specifics yet.
Ryan suggested that would largely be up to the staff, but also part of not going into specifics was the impending weather situation. Sunday's weather calls for a temperature of 37 degrees near game time, with 19 miles-per-hour winds and 100 percent chance of precipitation. Ryan did say the club has looked into future alternative days in the event a rescheduling became necessary, but didn't go into further details.
What's also unclear is if Hernandez is perceived as a long-term fit in the rotation, or if Hendriks could earn his way back relatively quickly.
"It's consistency, again," Gardenhire said about Hendriks. "You saw his starts; 100 pitches, five innings. We'd like to see better use of his pitches, and to get deeper into games. I thought he was better the last two or three innings in his last outing, moving the all in and out and using his slow breaking ball. He had hitters off balance because of that. He's just got to do that from inning one, and start carrying it from the get-go. He'll have an opportunity to do that in Triple-A, and hopefully he'll work on that. He's dominating them down there, but now it's all about getting deep into games and using all your pitches. But that's it. He knows it, he knows what he had to do. It was kind of a tough situation, having to send someone out to activate (Diamond), but that's just how it worked out today."
Or perhaps what's behind door three -- Kyle Gibson? Gibson has made two starts for Rochester, spanning 9.1 innings with 10 strikeouts, one walk, but an unsightly 5.79 ERA. Gibson's first start was a no-decision against Buffalo in which he went five innings, allowing just one earned run. The second was a bit more rocky, as Gibson fanned six in 4.1 innings pitched but allowed five earned runs to a Pawtucket team which featured a rehabbing David Ortiz.
Cole De Vries and Samuel Deduno remained sidelined with injuries.
Ultimately, depending on weather, injuries and a few other factors, there could be some more shuffling of the deck chairs as the Twins' continue this six-game homestand.