It’s September and with the Twins heading for another 90 loss season, it means that it’s once again time to “try-out” new players from the expanded roster to see how they do. Twins fans will certainly already know that catcher Josmil Pinto has a burning hot start to his career going and looks like a legit future player. Great performances during a September call-up happen all the time, just look at Chris Parmelee’s .355/.443/.592 triple slash during his 21 game call-up in 2011. Starts like these give tons of hope to the local fan base and, more importantly, the organization, which starts penciling that name into the roster for the next season. That being said, sizzling numbers don’t directly translate into sustained big league success, as the rest of baseball starts to figure out how to pitch to the new hitter (i.e. Parmelee’s 2013 numbers: .220/.305/.364). What’s the point of a September call-up then if the numbers can’t be trusted? The Twins can’t expect Pinto to hit above .400 with extra-base power to all fields forever but a month of successful baseball in the majors will undoubtedly win Pinto serious future playing time.
Although stellar numbers might not carry over to the next season, the opportunity of a September promotion shouldn’t be taken lightly. Terry Ryan and the top Twins brass are studying every play to figure out who should stick with the organization. The team already has an extremely appealing hitting prospect in Pinto, but what about potential starting pitchers that could fix the broken down rotation? Although Scott Diamond was the only official September call-up, Liam Hendriks and Pedro Hernandez should be bunched together in the same group of promoted starters who could make an impact on the team next year. Unfortunately, if this last week was any indication, these three guys didn’t all that too much to support their case.
On Monday’s win over the Angels, Pedro Hernandez only lasted 4.2 innings while giving up 3 earned runs. In Tuesday’s win over the A’s, Liam Hendriks went 5.1 innings and also gave up 3 earned runs. Finally, in Thursday’s loss against the A’s, Scott Diamond gave up 4 earned/5 unearned runs over 4.2 innings. Although the team won two of those three games, none of the starters produced a quality start (pitching at least six innings and giving up three or fewer runs). Coupled with Mike Pelfrey’s awful start on Wednesday (3.0 innings pitched, 7 earned), no Twins starter this week had a quality start. The Twins proved you can still win without a quality start from your starter, but it is a whole lot easier to lose a game when your pitcher has to be taken out before the sixth inning. These guys are being handed the perfect opportunity to win tons of favor for next year and they simply aren’t taking advantage of it.
In the four games this week, the Twins starters pitched 17.2 innings. Their bullpen pitched 18.1. A bullpen simply can’t be effective over a long period of time when they have to pitch so many innings and having to pitch more innings than your starters is far from a recipe for success. Short starts have plagued the team all year long and account for numerous losses over the season, but this week’s short starts are especially upsetting because these guys could or should be our hope as fans for next year. Now all we have to hope for is seeing someone not named Correia or Albers pitch into the 6th inning. It might also be time to start hoping for some free agency spending too.