Post-Break Rotation Watch

Back to the reality of 2012 after that little foray into the future here yesterday.

Today the Twins made a necessary move to call up a starting pitcher for Saturday’s game in Texas. With the call up of Sam Deduno, the Twins now have a full 40-man roster having selected his contract and added him to the roster.

Starting pitching continues to be the major weakness of this year’s squad, although Scott Diamond continued his excellent work today going 7 innings allowing only two runs and leaving the game with a 3-2 lead. Thank goodness for at least one bright spot in the rotation. Unfortunately, the bullpen failed today and the Twins lost a game they should have won.

I’m looking forward to seeing Sam Deduno pitch for the first time. He appears to have good stuff based on his strikeout to walk ratio this year at AA and AAA. He can be a little wild, so we’ll hope for at least “effectively wild” if he doesn’t conjure up pin-point accuracy. He will be facing a tough lineup – a good test for a guy who has had only 6 relief appearances with two teams at the major league level. The Twins need him to do well, go deep into the game, in his first start.

The three-game, weekend series is the wrap-up of the traditional first half of the season. This year the All-Star break will be very timely for the Twins, giving them a few extra days to sort out what the rotation will be at least for a few weeks, if not the rest of the season.

Based on recent performances, only two starters can count on being in the rotation – Diamond and Liriano, who has been much better though not great lately. The other three spots are more or less up for grabs.

Pavano remains on the DL with no timetable for return, so he can be effectively ruled out. Most disturbing about that, as far as I’m concerned, is the fact that he will not be worth anything in trade at the deadline. Blackburn, Hendriks being sent down to Rochester to get straightened out, means he is also out of the running.

That leaves Brian Duensing (assuming his foot/heal injury is not serious) and Cole De Vries as the front runners for two of the spots.  If Deduno has a great debut, he might be given a shot to continue, but I think it is more likely that P.J. Walters will be reinstated if his rehab assignment this weekend goes well.

As the next few weeks play out, the rotation situation could get even more interesting if Liriano is traded away for prospects as many bloggers and sports writers, local and national, are speculating. If near major league ready starting pitching prospects are not part of the return, the Twins will have to rely on Pavano or Blackburn returning to form just to get through the season.

No matter what happens, the probability of the Twins making any kind of run for a division title are quite remote. That increases the likelihood of some roster shuffles via trade before August 1.

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