MINNEAPOLIS – The Twins briefly had been using three starters in their rotation, and pretty soon, they might need six.
That quick reversal is the result of some fortunate off days earlier this offseason, and more recently, some unfortunate timing with weather problems.
Wednesday’s game was postponed for rain, but at least it was called before players warmed up to get ready for the game. The silver lining to the dark clouds blanketing Target Field is that the Twins didn’t burn Ervin Santana, and he’ll be available to start the first game of Thursday’s split doubleheader.
In addition, the Twins can use a 26th man on their roster for the second game, so Drew Rucisnki will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester to provide some bullpen length.
“You don’t ever want to start a game, regardless of who’s pitching, if you think that you’re not going to get at least 5 innings in,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said before Wednesday’s game officially was postponed. “The way things are, it would create some tough circumstances if you were to lose [Santana] and have to move him to a doubleheader [Thursday] and only have one extra player for one game.”
Several hours later, that worry came to be, and now the Twins are going to have to make some decisions with their starting rotation. With a doubleheader Thursday, “not only would you have to think about Saturday, but you have to think about next Monday because we’ll lose [Santana] on Monday. It’s just one of those things where you’re trying to give yourself options.”
So Saturday and Monday may be two separate issues, but the guess here is that one will affect the other. The relative proximity probably means the Twins would be best served making two decisions at once.
Here’s a quick peak at the current state of the rotation.
Thursday: Santana and Berrios
Wednesday: Santiago or Berrios
Adalberto Mejia pitched 3 innings and 33 pitches Tuesday for Triple-A Rochester before he was removed from the game, “because he’s in the mix here going forward,” Molitor said.
Kyle Gibson threw 104 pitches Monday for the Red Wings, meaning he’d be lined up to start Saturday if the Twins wanted to go down that road. The thought when the Twin sent down Gibson – a relatively established big league starter – is that he was going down to work on things, not necessarily with an immediate return promised. But whether or not they think he’s ready to be back for good, circumstances could force their hand in this instance.
Adam Wilk was claimed off waivers from the Mets after starting in place of Matt Harvey last Sunday. This Sunday, after Hector Santiago was bounced having thrown just 75 pitches, Wilk mopped up for the Twins and threw 62 pitches. With Santiago likely in line to pitch Friday, that would mean Wilk could be available for spot-start duty Saturday. Or perhaps he’ll be insurance in case any starter falters early in a game and the Twins simply need to get through 9 innings in one piece.
Molitor said of Wilk: “He’s here and he’s got starter’s-length ability.”
Lastly, Nick Tepesch made one start for the Twins, was the victim of a poorly timed error early in the game, and then gave up one hard-hit liner after another on the way to an ugly stat line. He’s pitching for Rochester now, and he threw 54 pitches Tuesday, with more unfavorable results. Still, he’s an option by virtue of the Twins’ situation, his previous MLB experience, and the fact that he’s on the team’s 40-man roster.
Before Wednesday’s game was rained out, I thought the most likely scenario involved recalling Mejia to pitch on Saturday. Now, perhaps their best option would be to bring back Gibson for Saturday’s start and turn to Mejia on Monday. Or maybe they’ll pick just one of those guys and stick with someone like Wilk to get through the tricky stretch of games.
“It would be nice to get into a little bit of a rhythm that way,” Molitor said the other day about his rotation in flux. “It hasn’t hurt us a ton that we haven’t had a set five up to this point. But I think if we get there and feel like from top-to-bottom we’re in pretty good shape, it would be a settling thing in some regards.”