Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Perkins on DL. Henn called up. Who else might be coming up?

Glen Perkins has been horrible over his past few starts, especially last night, and now we know why. Perkins told people after the game that he had been dealing with soreness in his elbow for a while. I still don't understand why players (mainly pitchers) try to play through pain, as they only end up hurting themselves and the team. No good ever comes from keeping an injury hidden, and trying to fight through it. Right Liriano and Neshek? They learned that lesson the hard way by getting Tommy John surgery, let's hope Perkins situation isn't as serious.

Lefty reliever Sean Henn was called up from AAA ball to take Perkins place on the roster. Henn is deserving, for in 15 games this year he has a 1.13 ERA with 6 saves. He has 17 hits and walked ten, but has struck out 32 in just 24 innings.

Calling Henn up should help bolster the bullpen, but it still forces the Twins to make a decision on who will take Perkins place in the rotation while he is injured. I see three options: R. A. Dickey, Anthony Swarzak, and Kevin Mulvey.

We know about Dickey, the knuckleballer, who is currently in the bullpen. He'd probably give you 5 to 7 innings while giving up 4 or 5 runs. Nothing spectacular, but he'd eat some innings. One problem is that if you use him as your starter, then you lose your long relief arm in the bullpen.

If I were the Twins GM, I would call up Anthony Swarzak. Swarzak was a 2nd round pick in 2004. He is pitching very well in AAA this year, and is probably the Twins best pitching prospect right now. He has made 7 starts so far this year. In 44 innings he has given up 11 walks, 40 hits, while striking out 32. He has a 2.25 ERA. For those of you who care about win-loss record (you shouldn't) he is 2-3. He also went 5-0 at AAA at the end of last season. I would love to see Swarzak in a Twins uniform this weekend. But if they don't choose Dickey or Swarzak, they might choose Kevin Mulvey.

Kevin Mulvey was a pitcher the Twins acquired in the Johan Santana trade. The Twins might like to bring him up to show that they did get some good value from the Santana trade (but if they really felt like doing that, they would be playing Carlos Gomez every day.) Mulvey has a 4.15 ERA in 34.2 innings so far. He has a better strikeout rate than Swarzak so far, he has 31 K's. But he has given up 19 walks and 34 hits. Clearly Swarzak has had the better year so far.

Who might be sent down or released? Catcher Jose Morales would be a top candidate. Other candidates would be Luis Ayala and Craig Breslow. I would release Luis Ayala, in my mind he has been the worst bullpen pitcher so far. Jesse Crain wouldn't be too far behind those guys, but I doubt the Twins would get rid of him so fast. Only Nathan, Mijares, and Guerrier are to be trusted at this point.

Who are the other top bullpen pitchers that the Twins could call up? They have two amazing relievers in AA, Anthony Slama and Rob Delaney. Slama has a 1.69 ERA, in 21.1 innings he he has a 33-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio while allowing just 13 hits. He hasn't given up a run in five straight appearances. Delaney has a 2.22 ERA in 28.1 innings with a 31-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He also hasn't given up a run in five straight appearances. Sick of seeing relievers give up homers late in games? These two have given up just two in 49.2 innings.

The thing that drives many Twins fans crazy is that they are only in AA, despite dominating every level they've pitched at. They should be in AAA at least by now. Slama spent all of last season at A ball despite posting some of the most incredible pitching stats you will see. The Twins are moving these two along much too slowly and now it is hurting them. Hopefully with Henn going to the Twins, one of Slama or Delaney will be promoted to AAA. These two hopefully will be great bullpen options for the Twins in a month or two. And next year the bullpen should look much better with Nathan, Neshek, Mijares, Slama, and Delaney in it.

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