MINNEAPOLIS – As it stands right now, the Twins will likely need to add a fifth starter to their 4-man pitching rotation on Saturday in a home game against the Royals.
The Twins have been very flexible with their pitching staff this year, endlessly fidgeting with minor league options, designating players, and bumping down to 4 starters when off days will allow them to skip the fifth spot.
They’ve used 7 different starting pitchers this year: Ervin Santana, Hector Santiago, Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson, Adalberto Mejia, J.O. Berrios and Nick Tepesch. Now, they’ll need to add an arm this weekend, in all likelihood.
Here’s a look at their upcoming slate, after Phil Hughes pitched Tuesday:
With Mejia, Gibson and Tepesch pitching for Triple-A Rochester, the Twins have a few options with big league experience.
Mejia started Tuesday for the Red Wings and pitched 3 scoreless innings before he was removed with only 33 pitches. Tepesch came on in relief and surrendered 6 runs (1 earned) in 1 2/3 innings. Gibson pitched 6 1/3 innings on Monday, allowing just 1 earned run with 10 strikeouts, but he also walked 4 batters and allowed 6 hits.
Mejia leaving Tuesday’s game early is interesting. It could be a sign that the Twins view him as a good option Saturday. He also missed a little time in Rochester recently after the birth of his child.
With consistent rain in the forecast in the Twin Cities on Wednesday, it’s possible that game won’t happen as scheduled. If that’s the case, things could get difficult as far as a scheduling a makeup game goes.
If they have to move that game, it would likely bump Santana’s start to Thursday. If there’s a doubleheader Thursday as a makeup, that might not throw a wrench in the Twins rotation.
Manager Paul Molitor was asked before Tuesday’s game if he knew who would start Saturday.
“I know who it might be, yeah,” Molitor said. “But I think [there’s] no need to put it out there until we make it final, just because of the fact that there’s still some things up in the air, including potential rainouts and all these that could get in the mix.”
With the aforementioned moves, it hasn’t seemed like the Twins have kept the same 5-man rotation for any length of time this year. Sure, the bulk of the starts have gone to the same guys. But there’s also been a consistent state of flux.
“It would be nice to get into a little bit of a rhythm that way,” Molitor said. “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.”