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  • Reviewing Rotation Reinforcements in Rochester

    If it wasn't obvious before his latest poor performance, it certainly seems obvious now that Scott Diamond is in line for a demotion from the Minnesota Twins rotation. Since pitching well in his first five starts back in April and May, the lefty has gone 2-7 with a 6.65 ERA, 1.73 WHIP and 28/24 K/BB ratio in his past 13 turns.

    It would be one thing if he were showing signs of improvement, but that's not the case. In his last three outings, Diamond has surrendered 16 hits, 10 walks, 11 earned runs and four homers while recording just two strikeouts. He has allowed more than twice as many fly balls as grounders in that time. I wrote back in late May that Diamond was getting away from the things that had made him successful last season, and recently that has been more blatantly true than ever.

    On Sunday, after watching Diamond get shelled for six runs in 4 2/3 innings, the soft-spoken and non-provocative Tom Kelly opined while filling in as commentator on FSN's broadcast that the time has probably come for a change. It was clear to him -- as it has been to many of us -- that Diamond doesn't presently belong in a major-league rotation.

    In the wake of his latest disastrous outing, the lefty was mystified that his great work in the bullpen isn't translating over to games. I've seen some variation of that quote from a Twins' starter far too often this season; it conveys a sense of hopelessness, and convinces me more than ever that Diamond needs a break to get things figured out. At this point, the Twins surely must agree, though they appear content to give him at least one more chance.

    If a move should come in the near future, who are the candidates to replace him? With Pedro Hernandez and Cole De Vries on the shelf, let's take a look at the available arms on hand in Class-AAA Rochester:

    Vance Worley, RHP
    AAA Stats: 9 GS, 58 IP, 3.88 ERA, 34/17 K/BB, 1.41 WHIP

    Minnesota's Opening Day starter was demoted back in late May with a 7.21 ERA and an obscene .381 opponents' batting average. His performance in Triple-A has looked far better on the surface, but at a deeper glance it's pretty tough to get excited about his improvements. Even against the lesser competition, Worley has still been unable to strike people out (5.3 K/9) while allowing too many hits (65 in 58 innings). He was placed on the 7-day disabled list last week with shoulder inflammation, but he'll be eligible to return tomorrow, so his availability depends on the severity of the injury. Even if he returns soon, the Twins will likely want to see him prove that he's healthy and effective before a recall is considered.

    Andrew Albers, LHP
    AAA Stats: 20 GS, 115.1 IP, 2.97 ERA, 105/29 K/BB, 1.26 WHIP

    Albers has been the standout performer on Rochester's staff, consistently turning in strong outings while posting a respectable K-rate (8.2 K/9) and controlling the running game (three stolen bases attempted in 20 starts). As a 27-year-old who was pitching as a reliever in an independent league three years ago, Albers is hardly a conventional prospect, but based on merit he is beyond deserving of a look in the majors. The stumbling block: he still needs to be added to the 40-man roster.

    P.J. Walters, RHP
    AAA Stats: 11 GS, 61.1 IP, 3.96 ERA, 53/21 K/BB, 1.44 WHIP

    Walters was called up to fill in back in late May and quickly unraveled after a couple good starts, leading to his second designation for assignment in two years. It's plain to see that he doesn't have the stuff to pitch in the majors, as illustrated by a 5.79 ERA in 101 innings with the Twins over the past two seasons, so although he chose to stay in the organization after his latest demotion, you have to figure that he's exhausted his opportunities in Minnesota.

    Liam Hendriks
    AAA Stats: 11 GS, 65 IP, 5.12 ERA, 39/12 K/BB, 1.49 WHIP

    The forgotten man. Hendriks made the Twins' rotation out of spring training but was bumped after two starts (a shockingly short leash, considering how long guys like Worley and Diamond have been allowed to flap in the wind). While in Rochester, he missed about a month due to injury and hasn't pitched very well, although his control has remained very good and prior to his last clunker he had rattled off four straight quality starts. Hendriks has looked hittable everywhere this year, but he's still only 24 and might have a better shot at making a future impact in the Twins rotation than anyone else listed here (save for Worley, who is presently unavailable).

    Nick Blackburn
    AAA Stats: 1 GS, 5 IP, 10.80 ERA, 0/0 K/BB, 2.00 WHIP

    I can already hear the cringing. Twins fans tend to have a visceral reaction to Blackburn, who is currently earning $5.5 million in the last year of an ill-advised contract extension, but there's a good chance we'll be seeing him in Minnesota before season's end. After undergoing his third arm surgery in as many years in the spring, Blackburn missed the first half but is now on the rehab trail and nearing a potential return. After achieving decent results (3.80 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) in five starts between the rookie-level GCL and Double-A, he was promoted to Rochester this week and made his debut on Tuesday night. An absolutely terrible outing didn't help his cause, but he's got plenty of time to convince the club that he deserves one more look.
    This article was originally published in blog: Reviewing Rotation Reinforcements in Rochester started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 29 Comments
    1. Otwins's Avatar
      Otwins -
      Thanks for the analysis. Seems like the willingness to give Diamond another start has more to do with the lack of options than anything else. Sure seems like it has to be Albers but in a rebuilding year that 40 man spot may be more valuable than a win or two.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Nick - he is not in AAA, but any analysis on Swarzak getting another chance in the rotation?
    1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
      Joe A. Preusser -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      Nick - he is not in AAA, but any analysis on Swarzak getting another chance in the rotation?
      Please, no more Swarzak or Duensing experiments. They have become fair MLB players out of the pen, don't mess with that progress.
    1. tjsyam921's Avatar
      tjsyam921 -
      I think the Twins are hoping for Pelfrey to continue to improve so he can be traded soon and open a roster spot for Albers or someone else. I think that's why he started first after the all star break to give him more starts before the deadline. Obviously that opens a second spot in the rotation.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Quote Originally Posted by Joe A. Preusser View Post
      Please, no more Swarzak or Duensing experiments. They have become fair MLB players out of the pen, don't mess with that progress.
      It's fun to pull for these guys and I was kind of excited for Swarzak when he came up.

      However, in 114 PA this year against LH batters their slash line is .321/.345/.557 (.902). Not good. The way they are using him now may be his best opportunity to stay in MLB.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      What a dismal set of options.
    1. wabene's Avatar
      wabene -
      Quote Originally Posted by tjsyam921 View Post
      I think the Twins are hoping for Pelfrey to continue to improve so he can be traded soon and open a roster spot for Albers or someone else. I think that's why he started first after the all star break to give him more starts before the deadline. Obviously that opens a second spot in the rotation.
      Everybody keeps talking about getting rid of Pelfry, but as this article clearly shows they need him. Next year if one quality arm is ready (good case senario) out of the minors they still have to fill out the rotation. Peltry mean while is following the classic TJ recovery; stronger in the second half and even stronger next year.
    1. 3up3down's Avatar
      3up3down -
      I think they should extend Pelfrey, he can be a top of rotation starter. as far as this list, I really dont see any options, worley is hurt & he has been terrible, albers has been good at AAA but he is throwing 83-85 & that will not translate to big league success, you say walters doesnt have good enough stuff to pitch in the bigs , i disagree he basically has 1 full season of stats under his belt, IF he locates his pitches he can pitch in the bigs , he is no different than hendriks, neither have over whelming stuff but must locate all there pitches , hendriks is younger but look at his #s , they are no better than walters..lets just say the options in AAA are not good & thats even if ALL of them were healthy...
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Does not look like we have options for Diamond at this time. Too bad, We cannot afford to have a full 40 man roster incase we take more players than we sell at this time.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      A half dozen really really really bad choices.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Quote Originally Posted by Joe A. Preusser View Post
      Please, no more Swarzak or Duensing experiments. They have become fair MLB players out of the pen, don't mess with that progress.
      In the last 3 years, Swarzak was given 11 starts. All of them in 2011. His FIP (3.92) and xFIP (4.45) as a starter were better than his relief numbers that year. The Twins have started many pitchers who haven't done nearly as well in the last three seasons.

      It could be that his two fastballs and curve ball aren't enough and his change up isn't effective enough to be starter. On the otherhand, there are pitchers who have pitched poorly and given a much longer look as a starter. I asked for analysis earlier because it is something i wonder. Any analysis?
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      I cringe at all but Albers. He really does stand out in this group. Plus, the Twins like to have one lefty in the rotation, so Albers is the obvious choice. As for finding 40-man room, perhaps they're waiting for the trading deadline for that to sort itself out.
    1. AROG's Avatar
      AROG -
      What about Trevor May. He obviously needs more time but would be the best option to get major league hitters out. He is on the 40 man roster and when he is on, he is really good, when he isn't on, he isn't good. In a perfect world we wouldn't consider him for this year. But I think it is obvious that we are not in a perfect scenario.
    1. boomerb5's Avatar
      boomerb5 -
      Quote Originally Posted by tjsyam921 View Post
      I think the Twins are hoping for Pelfrey to continue to improve so he can be traded soon and open a roster spot for Albers or someone else. I think that's why he started first after the all star break to give him more starts before the deadline. Obviously that opens a second spot in the rotation.
      Trading Pelfrey does open a roster spot, but it also leaves another hole in the rotation. So you add a player to the 40-man for Big Pelf, and you still don;t have a slot for someone to replace Diamond.
    1. jun's Avatar
      jun -
      Quote Originally Posted by 3up3down View Post
      I think they should extend Pelfrey, he can be a top of rotation starter. as far as this list, I really dont see any options, worley is hurt & he has been terrible, albers has been good at AAA but he is throwing 83-85 & that will not translate to big league success, you say walters doesnt have good enough stuff to pitch in the bigs , i disagree he basically has 1 full season of stats under his belt, IF he locates his pitches he can pitch in the bigs , he is no different than hendriks, neither have over whelming stuff but must locate all there pitches , hendriks is younger but look at his #s , they are no better than walters..lets just say the options in AAA are not good & thats even if ALL of them were healthy...
      Albers has not had a chance to pitch in the ML. Don't write him off just yet. Let's be fair. Walters and Hendriks were given a few chances already. They both failed to succeed.
    1. BabyJesusBuxton's Avatar
      BabyJesusBuxton -
      I wouldn't throw in the towel on Worley and Hendriks yet. They are both relatively young pitchers yet and have time to turn it around. If one of these guys are able to figure it out and pitch effective enough to cover the 4 or 5 spot in the rotation for the next 3 years I would be ecstatic!
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      I am hoping for a creative move that gives Albers a chance.
    1. 3up3down's Avatar
      3up3down -
      jun, I am not writing Albers off , all i am saying is most on here just see the stats & thats ok..I have seen Albers pitch in college & professional, as I have seen alot of guys & I cant remember 1 single guy in the last 10 years that has gotten a chance much less succeded throwing 83-85mph, it just dont happen..he maybe , maybe could have some success as a pen guy because he faces hitters one time & has them out front of everything , but that 2nd time thru the order big league hitters will wait back & kill it..he deserves a chance BUT he is not the answer, the best options in AAA or on the AAA DL is unfortunately walters or hendriks. in my opinion walters or hendriks if facing the tigers gives you a chance to win if they are locating pitches. any of the others you have very little chance of winning that day. Albers is alot like Brad Mills , mills had success in the minors , he even pitched great in vegas & thats almost impossible but he had zero success in the bigs & he throws harder than albers & i am not a velocity guy but you have to atleast get it in the hi 80s...
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      I hope the Twins extend Pelfrey. His rehab is going pretty much as expected, and it's not like we have a lot of good young pitchers at AAA that Pelfrey is holding back.

      Whatever happened to Cole DeVries? He would have made the team out of spring training, I think, if he hadn't hurt his arm.

      Albers has been outstanding in AAA. I think he's earned a chance to show us what he can do against major league hitters, and Scott Diamond needs a chance to get his mojo back in AAA.

      No thank you to Walters -- I've seen enough of him.
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      Quote Originally Posted by wabene View Post
      Everybody keeps talking about getting rid of Pelfry, but as this article clearly shows they need him. Next year if one quality arm is ready (good case senario) out of the minors they still have to fill out the rotation. Peltry mean while is following the classic TJ recovery; stronger in the second half and even stronger next year.
      Dude, Pelfrey is a free agent.
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