The series started good but ended up doing poorly. Kyle Gibson was excellent on Friday, but Sam Deduno and Ricky Nolasco got boomed like dynamite. Oh well, losing 2 of 3 in Detroit would have to fall into the "expected" category. Who did stuff that was notable? Let's find out!
On May 28, I asked if we should be worried about Ricky Nolasco. Since that day, Nolasco has made four starts. He's thrown 24 innings, given up 12 earned runs, 29 hits and 8 walks. He also has 21 strikeouts in that span, but his ERA is still 5.66 right now. I'll go ahead and answer my original question: yes, we should be worried about Ricky Nolasco.
My biggest concern is that the Twins will be very slow to yank him from the rotation if he continues to struggle. Nolasco has been durable and inconsistent for basically his entire career. The Twins can rely on him to make his starts, but if better options are present, should they want that reliability? Nolasco is under contract for three more seasons after 2014 and I imagine he'll get many opportunities to improve his performance. I think this is justifiable, but at some point, the Twins have to examine the sunk cost and determine if there are pitchers in the organization who give the team a better chance to win.
I'm not sure we're at the point of replacing Nolasco. That said, if Kyle Gibson was having Ricky Nolasco's season, is there any doubt that Gibson would be in Rochester? it's not a perfect hypothetical, but it's interesting to consider.
Trevor Plouffe is on the disabled list with what MLB At-Bat referred to as a "side injury." An injury to an entire side sounds extremely painful, although I have no idea how one injures an entire side without slipping on ice, flying into the air and landing completely on your side. You know what, I can't really describe it in words, here's a picture:
That looks bad. It sounds like he could miss significant time. It's a shame because Plouffe has hit pretty well this year (100 OPS+, exactly league-average) and he was placed on the DL on his 28th birthday. The Twins recalled Pedro Florimon to take his place and he'll slot in on the bench where the fact that he won't get any hits is expected because you're not allowed to get hits when you are on the bench.
The Twins do have a third baseman at Rochester who could have taken Plouffe's spot quite nicely. Deibinson Romero has been in the organization since 2006. He's slowly climbed through the Minors and he's batting .310/.406/.452 in 62 games with Rochester this year (through Satuday). Romero isn't on the 40-man roster, so that might be the justification, but it seems that if Romero isn't getting his chance in this tailor-made situation, he may never get a chance with the Twins. Too bad, I'd be interested to see if he could translate some of his MiLB OBP skills to the Majors.
I was looking forward to Willingham's return from injury, mostly because I wanted to see how much he had left in the tank. I hoped he would hit for some power and become a trade chip at the deadline. Now, I might lean toward bringing him back for a season or two. Willingham displays "old player skills" in that he draws walks and hits for power. These are skills that older players can maintain if they maintain health.
Obviously, Willingham is a health risk, but if he were to sign at a decent number and agree to move to DH, he could be a useful piece as the Twins transition in more young players. We know his power plays at Target Field and he likes playing in Minnesota. It seems like a good fit. That said, if someone offers a good prospect at the deadline, I'd take it and hope the love we let go finds his way back home. It would be so poetic.
Former Twin Update - Vance Worley
Vance Worley returned to the Majors on Sunday and because it is apparently super fun to troll Twins fans, he decided to have an awesome debut. Worley went seven innings, allowed zero runs on five hits with five strikeouts and no walks. Frick. It's just one start to I'm going to resist the impulse to throw my horn-rimmed glasses through the window, but a Worley success story would be about as frustrating as any former Twin finding success elsewhere.
Worley legitimately gave the Twins no reason to put him in the MLB rotation after Spring Training. They got him through waivers near the end of Spring Training and could have used him in AAA. Instead, they sold him to Pittsburgh. Yes, the team that everyone rips for being cheap actually sold a player for money because they also apparently like to troll Twins fans.
The reason they sold him (beyond cash being fun and the perfect way to buy stuff)? The Rochester rotation would have been too crowded. Scott Diamond has a 6.94 ERA with Rochester. The rotation was just too crowded! I don't think Worley turns into anything truly special, but he's just 26 and he would have been an interesting choice to replace one of the ineffective Twins' starters. Worley is one month older than Kyle Gibson. One month.
Fun Stat - Nolasco's "Adjustments"
I can't remember where I found this stat, but I'm going to share it anyway:
- MLB Leaders for most times adjusting pants:
- Ricky Nolasco - 25,000
- Everyone else - much less
Interesting. I noticed that he adjusts his pants a lot, but I had no idea how elite he truly was.
Is it time to replace Sam Deduno with Trevor May? Perhaps this creepy animation will help me express my feelings on the subject:
2 things - I promise not to do that again and Sam Deduno's head is bigger than Trevor May's. That part isn't my fault.
KWL Chart - Kendrys Morales
Pro-tip: Click it and it gets bigger.
Baseball Card of the Week
In honor of the Twins facing Joe Nathan this past weekend, here is an early Nathan baseball card:
This was from the era when Fleer was trying to capture what baseball would be like if every player was constantly zoned out and looking off into space.
Plugging My Way
Last week, I wrote about Joe Mauer's historic slump. I looked at the number of players who performed as well or better than Mauer through age 30 and how they performed from 31 and on. I think the "research" is somewhat interesting, so here's the link for anyone who likes things that are "interesting." In addition, check back on Friday as I will examine how the present would be different if the Twins had drafted Mark Prior instead of Joe Mauer back in 2001. I'm taking a slightly different perspective, so be sure to check it out!
The Twins head to Boston this week, which means non-stop reminders that David Ortiz hated playing in Minnesota. I'll be honest, it's gotten stale. Maybe he should start talking about how much he hates Seattle. They gave up on him first! They traded him for Dave Hollins! Anyway, I hope Ortiz hits fewer than four home runs in this series, because watching him round the bases for 45 minutes is not how I want to spend my weeknights. Have a great week, everyone!