Now who’s wearing the Duens Cap?
Well, I sure look like an ass. Sort of.
Shortly after claiming that Brian Duensing would not be an option for the Twins rotation because he would need to be stretched out first, Ron Gardenhire allowed Duensing to pitch 4 innings in the 7-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. Considering that only 5 of his 39 appearances have been 2 or more innings this year, I have to think that it’s pretty clear that Duensing will be joining the rotation within the next two weeks. Right now, my best guess would be that Duensing would replace Nick Blackburn, but there’s a possibility that it may be Kevin Slowey or even Scott Baker, if Baker’s elbow forces him to be placed on the 15-day disabled list.
What makes this move a little easier, though, is how Blackburn is handling this season. He’s certainly frustrated, but from what I’ve read, he’s accepting responsibility for his poor year. It’s not uncommon for a starting pitcher with major league experience (and sometimes some sort of major league success) to don the prima donna cap and say that he deserves to stay on the major league roster, or perhaps even the rotation (see: Oliver Perez). The fact that Blackburn would be willing to go down to Triple-A to fix his problems is refreshing to see.
Stop. Slama Time!
After frustrating many fans and bloggers with their seeming ignorance of his dominance throughout the minors, the Twins finally called up RHP Anthony Slama from Triple-A Rochester. To make room for Slama, the Twins transferred RHP Clay Condrey from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list, and they demoted RHP Alex Burnett to Rochester.
From what I’ve heard/read, the only thing that’s flashy about Slama is his results.
1.71 ERA, 2.63 FIP, .164 AVG, 10.94 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 0.34 HR/9, 1.03 WHIP
According to Seth Stohs’ Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook, Slama throws a high-80s to low-90s fastball, a mid-to-high-70s slurve, and a splitter. However, nothing is spectacular about any of these three pitches. He also shows a little deception in his delivery, but it didn’t seem quite obvious when Slama was in spring training. Seth hypothesizes that “his arm has a big whip-action (that) must make it difficult for hitters to find a release point.” Seth also mentions that Slama tends to rely on his fastball, so it’s possible that he’ll need to mix in more slurves and splitters if he wants to succeed in the majors.
Alex Burnett started off his first major league season very well with a 2.30 ERA and a solid 7.47 K/9 rate after his appearance on June 15th against the Rockies. However, he had not given up a single home run up to this point, meaning that once the home runs started arriving, his ERA would likely rise. Shortly after the 15th, the home runs started coming, and his strikeouts started to disappear. Between June 15th and his last appearance yesterday, Burnett had a 11.17 ERA, 3.72 K/9, and 3.72 HR/9, bringing his season numbers to a 4.39 ERA, 6.59 K/9, and a 0.88 HR/9. Burnett will likely be back in Minnesota some time later this season, and if you ignore the past month, his debut was very solid.
As for Clay Condrey, it appears that 2010 will be a lost season for him. I talked about what could be expected from him after the Twins signed him, and the gist of that post was that Condrey would be the middle reliever without many high-leverage appearances, a la Bobby Keppel, Brian Bass, etc. I had actually been stewing a while on how the Twins could get Slama up to Minnesota, and my best thought was for the Twins to release Condrey and give his open 40-man roster spot to Slama.* Now that the Twins had Alex Burnett, Slama, Kyle Waldrop, and Pat Neshek all competing for one or two roster spots, along with Condrey, it was pretty clear that Condrey was likely the worst pitcher of this bunch. However, now that he’s been moved onto the 60-day disabled list, his 40-man roster spot has been given to Slama, and it sounds like Condrey will not pitch in the majors at all this year. For a signing that brought a mediocre pitcher to the Twins, the fact that he won’t pitch a single major league inning this year is probably the best case scenario that could have possibly happened.
* Although a flaw in this plan is that the MLB players union likely would not have accepted the Twins releasing Condrey simply because he was hurt.