May 18, 2009

Twins Bullpen 0, Yankees 3

Thus far in this series, the Twins starters have failed to be involved in any of the three decisions while combining for a 3.10 ERA. Meanwhile, the bullpen is 0-3 in the series with an 8.22 ERA. All three loses have come after strong pitching performances by the starters only to have the bullpen cost up either a lead or a tie to allow the Yankees to win three "shouldn't have won" games.

Thankfully, the Twins may be making a move that could change their bullpen. Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune mentioned yesterday that the Twins could be addressing their weakness (aka their bullpen) at some point in the not-too-distant future. Christensen predicted that Luis Ayala would be released while promoting southpaw Sean Henn. The 28-year-old former Yankee farmhand has a 1.13 ERA with a 32/10 K/BB ratio while serving as the primary closer for the Twins Triple-A affiliate Rochester Red Wings.

As bad as Ayala has been this season, I don't understand why the Twins wouldn't just get rid of Craig Breslow who has been equally bad. In order to cut Ayala, the Twins will have to eat the remainder of his $1.3 million deal. Gasp. While that shouldn't be a problem, the Twins have been frugal to a fault and it'd cost far less to get rid of Breslow. If Henn took Ayala's place, the Twins would then have three left-handed relievers. Thankfully, Henn has been absolutely flawless against left-handed hitters. Mijares has as well. Breslow on the other hand can't get either lefties or righties out, and really serves no purpose going out there to be the LOOGY.

If this were the scenario in place, Breslow (to me) makes the most sense to be let go. There's a fair chance that he'll clear waivers if he chooses to accept a demotion to Triple-A. But honestly, more moves need to be made, but at least getting rid of Breslow or Ayala would be a start. Whichever of the two stays put, unless they turn things around, they could follow in the others' footsteps. Jesse Crain and R.A. Dickey are two others that aren't in the 'clear' either and could also be on the outs sooner rather than later.

Whatever happens, regardless of who stays and who goes, the Twins need to move both Rob Delaney and Anthony Slama up to Triple-A. They have a combined 2.00 ERA and 64/18 K/BB ratio in just under 50 innings pitched. The fact that these two continue to be mishandled and held back in place of clearly less talented, no promise pitchers is completely absurd. The teams biggest area of concern is the bullpen, so why are they holding these two back? I know some think the Twins are doing the right thing by giving these two more experience in the Minor Leagues, but I personally don't understand the reasoning.