Tuesday, March 22, 2016

2016 Twins Spring Training Coverage from Fort Myers. 3/22: The Twins Opening Day Roster is as Clear as it was in February

There is about a week of Spring Training games (actually 9) left for the Twins, and the composition of the Opening Day 25 man roster is still very unclear, with exactly the same questionmarks as in the beginning of Spring Training:

1.  Who would be the last 2 Twins' Starting pitchers?  Tyler Duffey, Tommy Milone, or Ricky Nolasco?  Pick 2.

There was the feeling that it could be a 5 way battle with Jose Berrios and Trevor May also vying for a spot in the rotation, but it seems that the inclusion of Berrios & May was for PR reasons.  Milone seems to have earned a spot in the rotation, by arguably being the most consistent starter this Spring, so apparently it is up to Duffey and Nolasco, who both had pretty mediocre springs in official games to claim that last spot.  Nolasco had a great outing in the back fields the other day, and my take has been that it has always been his spot to loose, and he has not done that, or Duffey has not done anything to win it.  But still the Twins have not made it clear

2 (or rather 1b)  Who will be joining Perkins, Jepsen, May and Fien in the Twins' pen?

The only thing clearer than the beginning of the Spring Training here is that Ryan & Co do not want any of the young fireballers to start the season up North, and even though they pitched better than the rest, including the anointed closer whose fastball is about 6 mph south of its peak, Nick Burdi and JT Chargois, were reassigned and optioned to the minor league squads earlier.  Among the other cuts in the reliever group, Mason Melotakis did show flashes of greatness, but also did show rust from sitting for one year, which needs to be shaken, Pat Dean and Alex Meyer need to start games in AAA, Randy Rosario and Yorman Landa are a few years away, Mike Strong and his 40-man spot has proven the head scratcher that has been on paper and Aaron Thompson has proven than wearing a Civil War Beard in 80 degrees in Florida will not help your case if you do not have any talent.   Jake Reed was also disappointing and clearly did not pitch as well as the other young talent in the above list

Who is left:

from the RH side:

JR Graham
Brandon Kintzler
Ryan Pressly
Michael Tonkin

from the LH side:

Fernardo Abad
Buddy Boshers
Logan Darnell
Ryan O' Rourke
Taylor Rogers
Dan Runzler

The interesting thing is that none of those pitchers has pitched themselves out of competition.  If someone asked me yesterday, I'd say that Tonkin and Graham do not belong, but today they both redeemed themselves and maybe bought themselves a few more days, esp. Graham.  Tonkin, who is out of options, pitched two very clean innings throwing his fastball up to 95 and his slider up to 85, but those came against Baltimore's minor leaguers.  I like what Brandon Kintzler did today and most of the Spring, but from that group, Ryan Pressly deserves the first right hand spot, if there is only going to be one.  As far as the lefties go, Abad, O'Rourke, and Runzler, pitched equally well, so it could be one or 2 of them getting jobs.  Only O'Rourke has a 40-man spot, which is a consideration, but with Strong's primarily and Tonkin's, secondarily, spots in jeopardy, there is still a lot of work to be done.

And there is a wild card, who might make the Twins' pen better in 2016:  Tyler Duffey.  The former closer has not proven that he pitch more than 6 effective innings in the majors, and would likely be a force if the Twins' brass decide to move him to the pen, in a similar way that they did with Trevor May.

(Tommorow:  The position players)




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