No sooner had Twins closer Matt Capps returned to action and lit up the rumor wires then he re-aggravated the right shoulder injury that has had him in and out of the bullpen for the last month or so. GM Terry Ryan indicated that Capps, after surrendering two runs to the Orioles in a blowout victory Monday night, had irritated his rotator cuff and will need to return to the disabled list.
Nick Blackburn, who has logged a microscopic 0.60 ERA since his demotion to Triple A Rochester, was recalled and is expected to return to the starting rotation on Friday night, taking Brian Duensing‘s spot. Duensing will then presumably work out of the more-depleted-by-the-day bullpen. When a start such as Samuel Deduno‘s last night, in which he was able to work 4.1 labored innings, is considered to be “not that bad,” then you know the bullpen has stayed busy. Like the crew of bullpen pitchers who kept the team afloat last night for an eventual 6-4 victory (Jeff Gray, NatE. Robertson, Alex Burnett, Glen Perkins, and Jared Burton), Duensing will surely be kept busy in that role for however long he is there.
Teams in playoff contention tend to overpay for any pitching “help” they can acquire, no matter how average or even mediocre. If they can add a quality arm, even just for depth’s sake, they will do it. Capps, with extensive experience closing games and seeming to have reached a dead end in his Twins career, was an ideal candidate for the upcoming July 31st deadline, especially with the recent emergence of the aforementioned Burton late in games. The Twins can still move Capps in August, but that will be complicated by the fact he would have to first clear waivers. For now this re-injury is a blow to the Twins’ hopes to build some organizational depth during this disappointing season.
Question: how do you know that a starting rotation is struggling? When a player (Blackburn) who left the big league club with an ERA north of 8.00 earlier this month is considered an immediate upgrade just a few short weeks later. How does that happen? He will be replacing the aforementioned Duensing and his 10.16 ERA. Gulp.
Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press suggests that this is the “worst Twins starting rotation he has ever seen.” If it helps, they still are not the worst rotation in baseball this season. That dubious distinction belongs to the Colorado Rockies and their paired pitching system. So look on the bright side!