After seeing the two starters who were supposed to serve as veteran leaders in the rotation exit after recording only 12 outs on successive nights, it's not hard to understand why the Twins have been carrying 13 pitchers on the roster for much of the year.
What is hard to understand is why, with all these different relief slots, and with so many different guys being shuffled in and out, the Twins still haven't been able to find room for Anthony Slama on the major-league roster.
Slama has clearly never been held in particularly high esteem by the organization, despite his dazzling numbers in the minors. He owns a lifetime 2.00 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, and he has averaged more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings at every single level, yet he's been mired in Triple-A for four years and at age 28 he has logged only seven MLB innings.
The knocks against Slama are that his control isn't very good and he's weak against left-handed hitting. Those things both may be true, but neither precludes him from being a useful big-league reliever. His numbers in Triple-A are absurdly dominant. In 133 1/3 total innings for Rochester, he has registered a 2.36 ERA and 161-to-66 strikeout-to-walk ratio, yielding only 87 hits. This year, he has struck out 43 percent of the batters he's faced while posting a 0.59 ERA as the Red Wings' closer.
Although he's been able to consistently overcome his flaws and decimate hitters at every level of the minors, the Twins simply do not seem to view him as a guy who can make an impact at the next level. Apparently, they're not alone. At the end of last season, Slama was removed from the 40-man roster and exposed to waivers. Nobody claimed him.
I presumed at the time that both the decision to outright him and the lack of interest from even reliever-needy bottom feeders stemmed largely from elbow problems that ended his 2011 campaign in August. Yet this year, the side-arming righty has shown no ill effects from the injury – he's been nearly unhittable.
So at this point Slama is healthy, averaging almost two strikeouts per inning in Triple-A, and 28 years old. Oh, and there's an open spot on the 40-man roster. In this lost season, it's baffling that the Twins aren't interested in taking an extended look at what the guy can do against big-league hitters. If control is his biggest problem, why not make him a project for Rick Anderson? What is there to lose?
Slama's stuff might not be especially great, but I have an exceedingly difficult time believing that a pitcher can overpower hitters to that degree at the highest level of the minor leagues and stand no chance of providing value in the majors. Give him a chance.