The Twins have made a habit of shuffling through pitchers on the Major League roster this year. They’ve also been very flexible with their 40-man roster, regularly freeing up spaces on the roster by using the 60-day disabled list or by taking extra players and designating them for release or assignment.
The Twins have used 25 pitchers this season, and that number is likely to rise this weekend.
After another loss Thursday following a non-competitive starting pitching performance, the Twins made room on the 25-man roster by optioning starter Nik Turley to the minor leagues, and putting Ehire Adrianza on the 10-day disabled list with “abdominal issues.”
With the extra room, they called up pitchers Dillon Gee and Trevor Hildenberger. Gee is a veteran starting pitcher. He was used in relief by the Rangers this year before he became a free agent and the Twins scooped him up. Hildenberger is a side-arming reliever who has done nothing but exceed expectations in his pro career. His minor league numbers are great and his backstory is cool, too.
But the thing about Gee and Hildenberger is that neither one had a 40-man roster spot. So the Twins needed to make room. They did that by designating Mason Melotakis and Alex Wimmers for release or assignment.
I was fairly surprised to see Melotakis get shown the door, and I think there’s a nonzero chance he’ll get claimed by another club. Melotakis will be 26 next week, and he’s a reliever who’s yet to reach the big leagues. So from that perspective, I get it. But then again, he’s a lefty reliever who has in the past registered a fastball in the mid-90s. This year he had an outside shot to make the Twins bullpen out of spring training, but an oblique injury set him back in that pursuit. Once healthy, he pitched effectively in the minor leagues. He began the year at Double-A Chattanooga and recently was promoted to Triple-A Rochester. If you combine his stats at the two levels, Melotakis posted a 2.28 ERA in 27 2/3 innings, with a 32:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
I’ll be the first to confess that minor league stats aren’t everything. But it’s surprising to me to see the Twins — a team that needs to improve its bullpen — DFA a former second-round picked who’s now a 25-year-old lefty reliever with good numbers, a 40-man roster spot, and big velocity in his history.
On its face, I don’t disagree with the decision to promote Hildenberger instead of Melotakis. It does make me wonder, though, if I’ve missed something about Melotakis this year.
Wimmers and Melotakis join a long list of players the Twins have taken off the roster this year: Danny Santana (traded for a reliever who has since been released), Michael Tonkin (cleared waivers and is now back in the minor leagues), Adam Wilk (DFA’d three times already, and released Thursday), Jason Wheeler (traded to the Dodgers for cash), Drew Rucinski (outrighted to the minors), and Chris Heston (outrighted to the minors).