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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. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      The Twins can't keep Correia in the rotation after that performance, can they? He single-handedly lost a game they were winning by four runs.
      Oh, don't you worry. He'll get another chance, go 5-6 innings with 3-4 runs and it will be said he "kept them in the game", and this will go on.

      The chord needed to be cut a month ago, I'm honestly not sure it will before the trade deadline now.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I was really hoping to wake up to a tweet saying KC was DFA last night....but PATIENCE is more important than results, apparently.
    1. by jiminy's Avatar
      by jiminy -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      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".
      You may be right in this particular case but as a general policy I think you're slightly overstating things. There are very good reasons to keep a player in the minors besides penny pinching. Primarily, they still have things to learn. Trevor May seems like a perfect example of this. Every scouting report I've ever read said he had a good fastball but suspect control, and he needed to work on his secondary pitches. His ERA the past two years certainly bore out that he had a lot to learn. Now he's finally had a hot month, after struggling for two years. Does that mean his control issues are now over, and that his secondary pitches are major league quality? I have no idea. Personally, I don't think one month after two bad years ices the deal.

      I personally would rather see him down there, learning, than up here, struggling. Bring him up when he's ready. Is he ready, or are the coaches still working with him on his control and secondary pitches? I have no idea.

      But having found great fault with the twins for rushing Aaron Hicks, and before that Carlos Gomez, who to me seemed like they were rushed to the majors way, way before they were ready -- most likely just to satisfy the hunger of the fans -- I'm not about ro lambaste them for NOT rushing a prospect with well documented holes in his game.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      No one is a finished product at any level.....waiting for perfection before moving people up just wastes time in the minors...imo. Using the word RUSH is a tautology of sorts, it implies that it is bad to move them up because it is bad to move them up, without any data/analysis that states why it is bad.
    1. jharaldson's Avatar
      jharaldson -
      Very disappointed to see that financial considerations seem to be front and center for reasons he is still in the rotation:

      "Kevin's one of our starters. Paid good money to do that and he's still going to get paid no matter so he's one of our starters," Gardenhire said
      http://www.1500espn.com/sportswire/A...rotation060514
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by by jiminy View Post
      Every scouting report I've ever read said he had a good fastball but suspect control, and he needed to work on his secondary pitches. His ERA the past two years certainly bore out that he had a lot to learn. Now he's finally had a hot month, after struggling for two years. Does that mean his control issues are now over, and that his secondary pitches are major league quality? I have no idea. Personally, I don't think one month after two bad years ices the deal.
      Normally I'd agree but it has been more than a month. May has now pitched well for over two months, give or take a clunker here and there.

      At some point, you need to cut your losses and move on. If the Twins only had May to supplant Correia, I'd be more reluctant to waive Kevin.

      That is simply not the case. There are four guys in Rochester flat-out dominating hitters.

      It's time to move on from Correia.
    1. by jiminy's Avatar
      by jiminy -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      So, having the probably better player in MN is not a priority? Some day that will be the priority in MN, someday.
      "Working on secondary pitches and FB command" -- that is my priority. If these people are the cornerstone of the future, let's invest the time in making them as good as they can be.

      And not just so their low-cost service time in the majors is spent pitching well, instead of learning on the job -- though that is a huge benefit, and not to be scoffed at -- but so they reach the peak of their abilities at all. I think the minor leagues are for learning. And the process works.

      Skipping levels should be a rare thing -- like Joe Mauer or Jason Kubel rare. Not Carlos Gomez and Aaron Hicks skipping AAA entirely just to prove to the fans that the ownership hadn't given up on the present. Those both were huge disasters.

      Build a winning team by teaching these guys everything you can in the minors, so when they come up, they are truly ready to kick ass. Watching Trevor May walk people and fail to fool anyone with his offspeed pitches would be the most depressing thing imaginable. Making him fine tune his game while dominating minor league pitchers is just fine with me. You're trading a year of ****tiness now for a year of cheap, masterful pitching in 2019, when it matters, and when he'll be at the peak of his powers, versus risking that he'll never develop at all. Did the Twins screw up by teaching Santana a changeup in the minors? Or did they prepare him for success in the majors? Take however long it takes to make sure May has three good pitches that will all confound pro hitters. Don't squander his future on a lost year in 2014
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      So don't call up May or Meyer, call up Darnell or one of the other guys.

      And, wating for perfection is a fool's errand. No one is perfect at anything. Lots of players come up, learn, go down, come back up. It is also a big leap to say if he came up they'd be squandering his future. did Chris Sale squander his by coming up fast? This assumption/tautology that bringing guys up fast ruins them for life is not proven out by the evidence at all.

      Who is calling for anyone to skip a level? All of these guys are in AAA.
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