Louie Varland had a gut-wrenching take on bad outing vs. Orioles

Nobody knows how rough Louie Varland looks right now more than the man himself.
Minnesota Twins v Baltimore Orioles
Minnesota Twins v Baltimore Orioles / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
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It was another rough outing for Louie Varland on Monday, one that will start to beg the question of how much longer he might be part of the picture.

Nobody is rushing to get Varland out of the rotation, and he probably deserves a few more starts to fully determine his future. If they look anything like what happened in Baltimore then it won’t be long before he’s back in St. Paul trying to fix what’s going wrong.

Varland was lit up by the Orioles on Monday, allowing four earned runs on 11 hits including two home runs in five innings of work. He has a 10.80 ERA over the last seven days, which includes a start against the Dodgers that went downhill on him fast.

Monday’s start was the most troubling, though, as Varland seemed unable to finish off batters with two strikes. It’s something that gave the Orioles extra outs and was something he paid dearly for.

Louie Varland has a gut-wrenching take on his bad outing vs. Orioles

After the 7-4 loss, Varland spoke about his bad outing and had a brutally honest assessment of what’s going wrong.

"Not leaving the zone with two strikes is an issue right now. I need to be better at it,” Varland said. “I’m letting the team down, and it’s a bad feeling."

Nothing will explain away a bad start, but that’s notable for a few reasons. One is that it seems Varland knows what’s going wrong but can’t seem to fix it, but the other is that he feels the weight of the situation on his shoulders.

This start against the Orioles looked painfully like one he had in Spring Training against the Detroit Tigers. Varland had been pitching pretty well up to that point, and was edging his way into the conversation about who would be Minnesota’s fifth starter even before Anthony DeSclafani was lost for the season.

Against Detroit Varland allowed eight runs on nine hits and lasted just four innings, which was in stark contrast to the 0.640 WHIP with 11 strikeouts and zero runs allowed across 11 innings prior. That’s the Jekyll-and-Hyde act we saw out of him last year, as he started the season in rough shape before finishing it well while pitching out of the bullpen.

Varland might get another start to smooth things out, but the leash is going to be short. Adding pressure to his situation is how well Simeon Woods Richardson looked on Saturday, a guy who is also pulling himself out of a pitching funk.

If Varland struggles again in his next start, there’s a decent chance he gets sent down to Triple-A and Woods Richardson takes his spot at the back of the rotation for the time being. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, and it’s clear Varland knows what to fix, but that all seems a little easier said than done.

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