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  • No Room in the Rotation for Trevor May

    So, as you might have heard, Twins pitching prospect Trevor May has been on a heck of a run in Triple-A. The 25-year-old right-hander was named International League Pitcher of the Week on Monday and hasn't allowed an earned run in his last four starts.

    Overall, May is sitting with a 2.62 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 10 starts this year, while averaging about a strikeout per inning and holding opponents to a .196 batting average.

    That sounds like a guy who should be up on the big-league staff. The only problem -- and this ain't exactly a bad problem -- is that right now there's no obvious spot for May to fill.

    That's a bit of an odd conundrum considering that the Twins have the worst starting pitching ERA in the American League at 4.86. But when you look at the five starters currently comprising the rotation, you can't really argue that any are deserving of a demotion.

    In part, that is because Minnesota's starters have been shockingly healthy. Outside of the ailing Mike Pelfrey, nobody has missed a start in the first two months, which is sort of amazing after the last couple years.

    In terms of performance, there are some ugly overall numbers in the mix, but everyone has been holding their own recently, helping to explain the club's decent 13-16 record in a month of May where the offense averaged only 3.2 runs per game.

    It goes without saying that Phil Hughes is locked in. He's been one of the best starters in the league. Ricky Nolasco also isn't going anywhere, since he's in Year 1 of a four-year deal (he has also allowed three or fewer runs in five of his last six turns). Samuel Deduno hasn't been spectacular since taking over for Pelfrey in early May, but certainly hasn't done anything to put his job in danger.

    Kyle Gibson's performances have been uneven, and his ugly 29-to-20 K/BB ratio in 56 innings is a bit worrisome, but this is sink-or-swim time for the 26-year-old right-hander and the Twins have little to gain by sending him back to Triple-A.

    The most obvious slot for May to take over is, and has been, that of Kevin Correia. The veteran is in the final year of his deal with the Twins, and has had an ERA north of 6 for much of the campaign.

    But even as someone who is clearly not the biggest Correia fan in the world, I can't really advocate for his removal from the rotation at this point. Correia simply hasn't pitched as poorly as his bloated 5.87 ERA suggests. His 5.0 K/9 rate -- while far from good -- is better than any mark he's posted in the last three years, and he has the best walk rate among Twins starters outside of Hughes. Correia has also allowed only six homers in 61 innings.

    The biggest issues for Correia have been a .338 batting average on balls in play and a league-worst 59.6 percent strand rate. Both categories are considered to be -- at least to some extent -- luck-based, and by that convention Correia has been among the most unlucky starting pitchers in the majors.

    You can't really punish a guy for being unlucky. Correia is doing what he needs to do.

    So here's the situation: Barring monumental struggles, contractual and developmental considerations mean that Hughes, Nolasco and Gibson are staying put all year. Deduno and Correia aren't pitching their way out of jobs.

    This means that in order to get his chance, May is going to need to wait until one of the latter two starters falls into a legitimate slump, or someone gets hurt. It also means that if and when Pelfrey finally gets healthy, he's going to have a very tough time breaking back into the rotation.

    Like I said, not a bad problem to have, but certainly a peculiar one for a starting staff that statistically ranks as the second-worst in baseball.


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    Comments 128 Comments
    1. Dman's Avatar
      Dman -
      To be honest I am not a May believer. I feel like his fastball lacks movement and he doesn't consistently throw enough strikes. He seemed like RP material to me.

      Not sure what has changed but he has really pitched well recently. I have to say he is surprising me right now but I do expect a meltdown in the not too distant future. I hope he makes me eat crow.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dman View Post
      To be honest I am not a May believer. I feel like his fastball lacks movement and he doesn't consistently throw enough strikes. He seemed like RP material to me.

      Not sure what has changed but he has really pitched well recently. I have to say he is surprising me right now but I do expect a meltdown in the not too distant future. I hope he makes me eat crow.
      I am a believer in May, but think that Meyer should get the first call, without a doubt. Mays numbers are better this year, 2.62 ERA versus 3.31. Meyer's K's are better (62 in 51 IP versus 54 in 55 ip).

      Their numbers over the last two years are not even close (Meyer's ERA was 2.99 and 2.86 versus Mays 4.87 and 4.51).
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Meyer has far more long-term upside, but there are outside circumstances dictating that May will get the first shot, even beyond the fact that he's pitched way better lately. May is older, already on the 40-man roster, and not dealing with cautionary restrictions after missing significant time last year.
    1. drivlikejehu's Avatar
      drivlikejehu -
      If Correia is worth an MLB rotation spot, surely 1 of the other 29 teams would take him off the Twins' hands? His numbers don't really matter - he will not be in the rotation of the next contending Twins club. So his presence is pointless when younger options are available.

      I'm not a big believer in May, but between him and the other guys at AAA, it makes no sense to throw Correia out there.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      " But when you look at the five starters currently comprising the rotation, you can't really argue that any are deserving of a demotion."

      "Samuel Deduno hasn't been spectacular since taking over for Pelfrey in early May, but certainly hasn't done anything to put his job in danger."

      "You can't really punish a guy for being unlucky. Correia is doing what he needs to do."

      I'm certainly not arguing against anything in the article, but these passages imply reactive management as opposed to proactive management. I also don't mean to imply these are your feelings as clearly this is something we would expect from the Twins.

      Maybe it's not fair to Deduno or Correia to lose their job, BUT if there is a guy in AAA who appears to be better, fair needs to be tossed in the trash. After all, it's not fair to the players in the locker room, it's not fair to the fans and it's not fair to the sport of baseball to keep a superior pitcher in AAA for the sole reason of doing kindness to the guy at the majors. How do we weigh fairness for an individual against everyone else?

      If hurting Correia's feelings MUST be avoided at all costs, the Twins could do what the Cardinals do and bring him up to get his feet wet in the pen.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I am definitely a believer in May, though not as a top 40% of the rotation guy. I think it is best to wait a bit for Correia to either suck terribly or get better enough to trade him for any kind of Miguel Sulbaranesque prospect if possible. This could happen in a month. So May will either benefit from a Twins injury or other injuries on other teams looking to make a playoff run. I haven't really looked at rotation depth for the top half of each league to see where he might fit.
    1. ChiTownTwinsFan's Avatar
      ChiTownTwinsFan -
      I'm in the minority on this, but I'm kind of waiting for Deduno to, well, not last. Not that I want him to falter, but I still wonder if his shoulder can stay healthy for a whole season. The 'luck' our rotation has seen can't last even though I hope it does.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      The Twins are close enough to the super2 line (there isn't an exact date but projected to be somewhere mid to late June) to wait a few more weeks. By the end of the month, both May and Meyer need an opportunity.

      They can release Correia or seek a taker of his salary. He also can be moved to the pen if there is space due to injury or trade. He has skills that fit the bullpen. He should not be blocking them.

      Deduno will not have he benefit of a large sample to consider the data, but he does need to show that he can get deep in games. If his control consistently leads to 15-20 pitch innings, it is really difficult to keep him on the rotation. That only works if he can throw 120 pitches regularly. He probably shouldn't be blocking May or Meyer.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      Maybe it's not fair to Deduno or Correia to lose their job, BUT if there is a guy in AAA who appears to be better, fair needs to be tossed in the trash. After all, it's not fair to the players in the locker room, it's not fair to the fans and it's not fair to the sport of baseball to keep a superior pitcher in AAA for the sole reason of doing kindness to the guy at the majors. How do we weigh fairness for an individual against everyone else?
      The point isn't really about fairness. The point is that it doesn't behoove the Twins to remove pitchers who aren't performing badly and replacing them with a total unknown. I'm hopeful that May can perform in the majors, and he's a nice piece of have on-hand. I'm sure they'll need him at some point.
    1. MileHighTwinsFan's Avatar
      MileHighTwinsFan -
      Patience will be key to Twins fans. May will get his shot, it is just a matter of when. I would suspect that Corriea will pitch just well enough that he will be attractive to a team competing for a Wild Card and in need of an extra arm.

      Frankly a team with a better outfield should help his numbers.
    1. jharaldson's Avatar
      jharaldson -
      Correia is currently ranked 96th out 101 pitchers in xFIP, I would say he is already terrible and ready to be removed. We could say his .336 BABIP is unlucky but I would also say his HR/9 of .88 when league average for starters is .97 is lucky. Both his result (ERA = 5.87) and the predictive stat (xFIP = 4.59) suck so I would give him the boot and give May a shot.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      what jharaldson said....96th in xfip......that's pretty bad. I guess another idea would be....do you want to stagger when your prospects come up, proactively, or just have 5 new guys next year? And, based on this, we won't ever see Meyer w/o an injury. To me, it is about proactively managing the roster, which I don't really see right now. ymmv, of course.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      The Twins are close enough to the super2 line (there isn't an exact date but projected to be somewhere mid to late June) to wait a few more weeks. By the end of the month, both May and Meyer need an opportunity.

      They can release Correia or seek a taker of his salary. He also can be moved to the pen if there is space due to injury or trade. He has skills that fit the bullpen. He should not be blocking them.

      Deduno will not have he benefit of a large sample to consider the data, but he does need to show that he can get deep in games. If his control consistently leads to 15-20 pitch innings, it is really difficult to keep him on the rotation. That only works if he can throw 120 pitches regularly. He probably shouldn't be blocking May or Meyer.
      Just looking at the pitching promotions around the league this season, there aren't many clubs who would have withheld promoting May and Meyer when your SP staff has been at or near the worst in baseball for SP ERA. And as others have noted, when some clubs are presented with just the situation the Twins are in, they automatically see the need to have the best pitchers in their organization pitching with the big club out of the bullpen- "one heart beat away", earning their spurs through a relief role apprenticeship.

      While I see the dollars and sense logic on putting things on hold right now....if the Twins are still reticent on promoting May and Meyer (in some capacity) after the Super 2 date has been established, it's pretty obvious what one would necessarily conclude about the Twins intentions- "'Wait 'til next year' and save on the service time this year."
    1. Tibs's Avatar
      Tibs -
      I would love for May and some of the other AAA guys to get a chance. How do we know if they would be better than what is currently on the Twins? Well, really the only way to find out if something is going to work is to try it. The only problem is no one has pitched consistently bad enough to be flat out released, which means someone has to be sent down or traded. I assume we aren't quite to the point in the season when teams are really looking hard for pitching.
    1. kblack1011's Avatar
      kblack1011 -
      This really shows the problem with signing players like Correia and Pelfrey to 2 year contacts. The Twins have marginal big league pitchers holding back prospects and the pitchers you signed really don't have much trade value.
    1. amjgt's Avatar
      amjgt -
      Why is it that xFIP always seems to help these 5.00+ ERA guys?

      Maybe the formula starts to break down when a players stinks like Correia has.

      At some point the "X" (expected) shouldn't always be a run better than the actual.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      The point isn't really about fairness. The point is that it doesn't behoove the Twins to remove pitchers who aren't performing badly and replacing them with a total unknown. I'm hopeful that May can perform in the majors, and he's a nice piece of have on-hand. I'm sure they'll need him at some point.
      \


      What does this mean, exactly? Andrew Albers was a "total unknown". The two guys that were acquired- which effectively crippled the OF from the day they were acquired- are hopefully more highly regarded by the Twins braintrust than that, for once they finally earn their promotion. (The world won't end if either of the M & Ms falter out of the gate, you can always go back to the guy he replaced).
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tibs View Post
      I would love for May and some of the other AAA guys to get a chance. How do we know if they would be better than what is currently on the Twins? Well, really the only way to find out if something is going to work is to try it. The only problem is no one has pitched consistently bad enough to be flat out released, which means someone has to be sent down or traded. I assume we aren't quite to the point in the season when teams are really looking hard for pitching.
      ...or sent to the bullpen.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      What is the downside of cutting KC? If May doesn't work, try Darnell, and the next guy......until one does. This really makes you wonder what they were thinking when they kicked the tires on Garza, after signing Pelfrey. Were they planning to just leave their best arms in AAA (btw, every pitch is an opportunity to get hurt, lots of teams call up SP prospects earlier now, to get more pitches out of them before they are hurt, one of the ESPN or Fangraphs articles addressed that a month or so ago)?
    1. Beezer07's Avatar
      Beezer07 -
      I find it silly for a team who, as some argue, lacks CF/OF depth because of their propensity to cut serviceable backup options...to cut/waive/demote a serviceable 4th/5th starter because someone in AAA "should" be with the big league club.
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