Friday, April 5, 2013

Mining meaning from the opening series

Josh Roenicke made a pair of appearances
in the opening series, pitching 1.2 innings
with two walks, two strikeouts
and a wild pitch.
That was a pretty good opening series for the Twins -- taking two of three from arguably the best team in the American League.

Most striking is that the starting pitchers fared well. Vance Worley, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey averaged just over six innings a start, which isn't Old Hoss Radbourn territory but is a mighty improvement over what the Twins got from last year's opening rotation -- and was all the more impressive considering the chilly conditions.

With the starters making it three turns through the batting order, the bullpen was not overworked in the first three games.

This probably doesn't mean much. As Detroit manager Jim Leyland said after the Wednesday game, it's difficult to evaluate anybody from these 30-degree games. That doesn't negate the results — both teams had to play in the same conditions — but it does require a further suspension of judgment.

Still, some judgment has to be made because of pending roster moves. The first series has, at the least, brought more time for the Wilkin Ramirez Experiment (and Ramirez certainly helped himself with a big pinch-hit Wednesday) by making it unnecessary to add an arm to the bullpen.

But an arm is coming — Anthony Swarzak is likely to return next week — and if the bullpen is to remain at seven members, one of the incumbents has to go.

Figure that Glen Perkins, Jared Burton and Brian Duensing are safe. Josh Roenicke is out of options, as is Swarzak himself; they can't be sent to the minors without passing waivers. Ryan Pressly is a Rule 5 guy, so he's also use-or-lose. Casey Fien has an option left, but he's been too effective to cut. Which leaves LOOGY Tyler Robertson, and his strikeout of Prince Fielder in a big spot Thursday gave evidence of his potential usefulness in a specific role.

If I had to make the move right now, Roenicke would be the loser. But the decision doesn't need to be made just yet, and circumstances can change before it does need to be made.

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