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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.


    Since the Twins rallied and took down the Yankees on Sunday to complete a rare series victory in New York, you can get half off your online order at PapaJohns.com on Monday with the promo code 'TWINSWIN'.
    Comments 128 Comments
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      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)?
      Exactly right. The Twins thinking on holding back their best arms is so arcane- can we all get together and chip in and get them an ESPN insider subscription?- they can't even begin to grasp the depths of their "penny-wise, pound foolishness".
    1. Beezer07's Avatar
      Beezer07 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      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)?
      I was typing my post at the same time you posted. But the downside is you hurt depth by cutting pitchers like KC. He can function at the major league level...what happens if injuries start piling up?
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Beezer07 View Post
      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.
      Pelfrey was sent on a magical mystery DL tour, others could be relegated to the bullpen- Deduno is extremely effective against LHB and could go back into a relief role ( and there are multiple pitchers with remaining options)...there are ways to deal with this, while better preparing for the future. This is what a rebuilding team does, so that they can avoid building for a future that never gets here.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Beezer07 View Post
      I was typing my post at the same time you posted. But the downside is you hurt depth by cutting pitchers like KC. He can function at the major league level...what happens if injuries start piling up?
      Fear of injuries is no reason to keep a really bad veteran in the lineup, when there are (likely) better options in AAA (four of them, actually). It's like not DHing Pinto, in case Suzuki gets hurt (on a different scale).
    1. drivlikejehu's Avatar
      drivlikejehu -
      Quote Originally Posted by Beezer07 View Post
      I was typing my post at the same time you posted. But the downside is you hurt depth by cutting pitchers like KC. He can function at the major league level...what happens if injuries start piling up?
      Yeah, what does happen if injuries start piling up? What difference does Correia make in that situation?

      There is always fungible, AAAA talent out there if 5 or 6 starters get hurt at the same time. Either way Correia does nothing for the organization.
    1. Beezer07's Avatar
      Beezer07 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Fear of injuries is no reason to keep a really bad veteran in the lineup, when there are (likely) better options in AAA (four of them, actually). It's like not DHing Pinto, in case Suzuki gets hurt (on a different scale).
      I would argue that pitching and position players are so different that comparing this to the Pinto/Suzuki situation is unhelpful. I agree that complete garbage shouldn't be kept around solely in case of a worst case scenario, but I would argue that KC is far from complete garbage, and the Twins are bad enough that it doesn't hurt to keep May working in AAA and hope that KC can keep providing innings.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      6th worst xfip in all the majors.
      2nd worst ERA in all the majors.

      How bad would a pitcher, with only 4 months left on his contract, have to be to be bad enough to be replaced, if that isn't bad enough?
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      6th worst xfip in all the majors.
      2nd worst ERA in all the majors.

      How bad would a pitcher, with only 4 months left on his contract, have to be to be bad enough to be replaced, if that isn't bad enough?
      Lets get rid of the garbage and give the fans something to be excited about. I agree 100%, worrying about depth and keeping more talented pitchers in AAA is exactly how you end up with the worst staff in the league for three years.
    1. Tibs's Avatar
      Tibs -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      ...or sent to the bullpen.
      You still have to get rid of someone. There are some guys in the minors that I would rather see up here, but this isn't a video game where you can trade/send down/cut players at will no matter how much we may want that to happen.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      6th worst xfip in all the majors.
      2nd worst ERA in all the majors.

      How bad would a pitcher, with only 4 months left on his contract, have to be to be bad enough to be replaced, if that isn't bad enough?
      And of course if the Twins were willing to pay a significant portion of that remaining 4 million, they would dramatically increase the trade value for Correia.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tibs View Post
      You still have to get rid of someone. There are some guys in the minors that I would rather see up here, but this isn't a video game where you can trade/send down/cut players at will no matter how much we may want that to happen.
      No one said send down at will, I said they could send down one of the relief guys with remaining options (and Gibson, should he implode, yes unlikely, but he still has options).
      And they can choose to bite the bullet, Jason Marquis is a recent example.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      And they can choose to bite the bullet, Jason Marquis is a recent example.
      Good point. Marquis was actually cut at a really bad time -- no one was pitching well on that staff, we were already short 2 starters due to injury and demotion, Blackburn was almost equally as bad as Marquis, and there weren't really any good alternatives left.

      That's an example of a time when you should hold on to every healthy pitcher you can. There were multiple likely points of failure and a lack of even interesting replacements.

      By comparison, this year's Twins are a model of success and depth (thanks to Hughes and the 3-4 interesting names at AAA). I still wouldn't mind seeing Correia in a bullpen role -- outside of Hughes I'm not really sold on anyone quite yet, and Correia might actually be a nice asset in the pen as a true long man.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      A. I wonder where the Twins rank since Pelfrey went down with the nerve problem. My guess is they've moved up.

      B. I wonder where the Twins rank when they swap out Correia for May, which is only a matter of time. They want to get something for him, even if it's just salary relief.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      And of course if the Twins were willing to pay a significant portion of that remaining 4 million, they would dramatically increase the trade value for Correia.
      I wouldn't say it will dramatically increase the trade value. It might change a team from "we'll wait for you to release him" to maybe giving up a 30-yr-old AAAA CF in the Alex Presley/Darin Mastroani mold. I'd be shocked if we get more than that.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      I wonder where the Twins rank when they swap out Correia for May, which is only a matter of time. They want to get something for him, even if it's just salary relief.
      Salary relief would be great, although it will probably just go toward covering the lost revenue from the empty seats I've seen on TV. Still, the remaining part of the contract could make the difference between taking advantage of an interesting opportunity should it present itself and passing on it because of the expense.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Darren Wolfson @DarrenWolfson 6h

      Trevor May's last 4 starts for Rochester: 26 inn., 0 earned runs. #MNTwins official this a.m.: "Still not ready." Will be here eventually.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Darren Wolfson @DarrenWolfson 6h

      Trevor May's last 4 starts for Rochester: 26 inn., 0 earned runs. #MNTwins official this a.m.: "Still not ready." Will be here eventually.
      "Still not ready" = "Clear path to the majors" per Rob Antony. Get rid of Correia and he suddenly could be ready.
    1. tmerrickkeller's Avatar
      tmerrickkeller -
      Move Deduno back to the bullpen, release Guerrier (who is also not part of the long-term plans). Bring up May with Matty's roster spot. I like Sam, too, but he hurts bullpens with short starts, and always makes short starts - quality short starts, but short.

      Keeps potential starter in the bullpen and handy, showcases KC to maximize (any) value, gives May a shot, gives fans a new face to cheer for, and clears two hurdles - gets May up and gives a second path for Meyer when KC is gone. If May implodes, go back to Sam, and move up a reliever, or straight out swap Meyer for May, as we'd be past super-two by then.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Must move very slowly, cannot rush these guys. After all, if they have proved one thing the last few years, they know how to develop pitchers......plus, as I showed above, KC is not the worst pitcher in the league.....
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Zero earned runs in for starts......
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