Wetmore: 5 thoughts, on Nolasco's ugly outing, All-Stars, and Buxton
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MINNEAPOLIS - Ricky Nolasco buried the Twins early, and they never could overcome an early six-run deficit. They lost to the Yankees, 9-7.
This column presents 5 thoughts from Sunday's game.
As always, feel free to ask questions or make observations in the comments. If you have a unique baseball observation during a game, feel free to share it with me on Twitter (@DerekWetmore).
1. Ricky Nolasco had his seventh ugly start Sunday. He didn't make it to the third inning, but he had plenty of time to give up six earned runs on seven hits, including a three-run home run to Jacoby Ellsbury in the second inning.
Anthony Swarzak took over to start the third, and allowed three runs in his second inning of work. The Yankees led 9-0 at that point.
I think Nolasco will be better than he's been to this point, but the number of crumby outings has to concern the Twins. He went 6 innings in his previous start, in which he allowed one earned run to the Angels.
While I don't think the Quality Start statistic paints a complete picture, Nolasco in many of his starts has fallen short of what the Twins expected when they signed him this offseason.
On the day of Nolasco's latest start (July 1), Twins General Manager Terry Ryan noted Nolasco's lack of quality starts this season. Ryan also pointed to Nolasco's track record as reason to believe Nolasco will be improved in the second half.
"He's thrown a couple good games. How many quality starts does he have? That's not good enough. He's got to do better than that. He will do better than that and he should do better than that."
2. So what's next for Nolasco?
"You know what? We're discussing a lot of options and trying to figure it out ourselves," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It starts with him. He's got to do a better job. The bottom line is he needs to figure out something because today wasn't any good at all. He didn't do anything. He didn't locate anything. [The Yankees] were all over every pitch. We have to figure out where we go next."
The Twins might have a choice to make. Should they move Nolasco to the bullpen? Should they skip his next start and give him an extended layoff over the All-Star break? The Twins are considering their options.
For more on a potential move to the bullpen, here's my story from Sunday.
3. The Twins got two All-Stars named to the American League team Sunday. Glen Perkins will return after making it last year, and Kurt Suzuki makes his first appearance.
For more on the selections, here's my story from Sunday.
4. I felt the umpiring crew struggled this series, in particular with the strike zone. I haven't seen review numbers for umpire performance and during games I tend to pay more attention to players, because there's only so much one can focus on.
Umpiring is a thankless job and it's virtually impossible for a human to perform it flawlessly. As baseball followers, we have to accept for now that these errors will affect the outcome of games from time to time. Major League Baseball has to decide if it is OK with that or if it will reform the current system to use things like electronic strike zones. That seems like a radical shift for a league not known for making quick changes.
5. Some good news for Twins fans: Byron Buxton is back.
Buxton went 0-for-2 in two plate appearances before he was replaced in center field by Max Kepler. Twins GM Terry Ryan said before Sunday's Twins game that the plan was to get Buxton two or three plate appearances in his first action back in nearly two months.