Minnesota Twins’ decision to option Duffey just shows how important and unpredictable Spring Training really is
Well, that was completely unexpected.
After giving the Minnesota Twins perhaps the second most important boost of 2015, pitcher Tyler Duffey was widely regarded to be all but a lock for the rotation in 2016.
And why not, all Duffey did was go 5-1 with a 3.10 ERA through 10 starts all the while helping to reinvigorate the rotation through a crucial stretch run.
However, in a surprise twist to this story, Duffey struggled in Spring Training to an 0-1 record with a 7.30 ERA, allowing 10 runs in just 12.1 innings of work.
These numbers matched with fellow pitcher Ricky Nolasco’s more effective spring stats led to General Manager Terry Ryan and manager Paul Molitor’s decision to name Nolasco the fifth starter in the rotation.
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It was definitely a surprise as the fifth starter competition was widely considered a three-man race between Nolasco, Tommy Milone and Trevor May. However, after Milone won a spot in the rotation, the race for the No. 5 slot proved to be anything but over.
So what does this mean for the young right hander? Well, it’s just a slight bump in the road really as we have all gotten a view of what he is capable of doing at the major league level.
A move to Triple-A is definitely not the end for him as he would be considered a fallback option in case of injury or ineffectiveness.
With the inconsistent performance of Nolasco and Milone probably not being viewed as a long term option there will be plenty of opportunity for Duffey to return to the big leagues.
And perhaps the most impressive thing about Duffey’s demotion was just how professionally took it. It’s an attitude like that will only help the righty improve and eventually make his way back to Target Field.
However, the real question that remains would be whether he would be the first pitcher called up over top prospect Jose Berrios.
Berrios was also said to be fighting for a rotation spot before being sent to Triple-A and was expected to be the next guy up for the Twins.
Duffey’s move to the minors may alter those plans depending on how Tyler performs in Rochester. If he is effective, it would be surprising to see him not be the next pitcher called up.
And again, Nolasco has really shown nothing but inconsistency with his performance and has yet to prove he is completely healthy, meaning the Twins may have him on a short leash. And depending on if Nolasco struggles again this year, the Twins may look to move or outright release him.
So until we see a full season of Nolasco – and truthfully 2016 will be a make or break year for him – I can’t help but think Duffey won’t stay in Rochester too long.