Minnesota Twins pitcher Tyler Duffey seems to have hit his stride as a bullpen arm. This begs the question: Could he succeed as a starter in the same way?
As Tyler Duffey carries a 2.31 ERA into the upcoming series versus the Rays, the Minnesota Twins find themselves in a somewhat difficult predicament.
With Kyle Gibson struggling heavily at the major-league level, and Phil Hughes sidelined with an injury, the Twins have been limited to a four-man starting rotation. This has worked as of late, as off-days have provided an extra day of rest to the starters. However, it is not something that is feasible long-term.
The Twins’ long relievers have been somewhat unestablished this season, as it apparently depends on the score of the game to determine who comes in. Adam Wilk and Justin Haley have seemingly been labeled the damage control/garbage time long relievers.
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Furthermore, Duffey appears when the Twins are poised for a close game.
Duffey’s success in these high-pressure situations have proven his worth. He has also proven his ability to work multiple innings, showing his durability.
Once a starter with potential, (5-1 and a 3.10 ERA as a rookie in 2015) it seems as though Duffey has found a confidence level similar to what he had as a rookie.
Manager Paul Molitor typically stands by his game plan. This means he shows minimal flexibility in going back on a system in place. To put Duffey back into the rotation would entail some degree of desperation on Molitor’s part, making it a blue moon scenario. The situation the Twins currently find themselves in, however, might just reveal a rare show of desperation.
The options in the lower levels diminishing. The need for an available starter is obvious. The Twins have one of three options:
Recall someone from Triple-A Rochester
This scenario would likely entail bring up someone like Kyle Gibson or Nick Tepesch to make spot starts until Phil Hughes returns.
Trade for an established arm
Stick with someone from the roster
This would probably come in the form of a bullpen game. Hence allowing one of the long relievers (Duffey, Wilk, or Haley) to have a spot start with a strict pitch count.
All in all, Duffey makes for the best option. It is short term and relatively low-risk. There is no jeopardizing the future, and a lesser likelihood for a loss than with Gibson or Tepesch. If he does well, he may land himself a spot in the rotation. Hughes has struggled mightily this year with a 5.74 ERA, despite his 4-3 record. In conclusion, this option has the lowest risk with a high ceiling for reward.