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Friday, September 3, 2010
Twins run out of relievers, but why?


Thursday night's loss was a tough one for the Twins; after their starting pitcher exited early with an elbow injury, they wound up losing in 13 innings. Making things worse: Ron Gardenhire used two starters in relief. And as Aaron Gleeman notes, this shouldn't happen in September:
Obviously teams don't plan for 13-inning games in which their starter departs after two innings, but if the Twins had simply called up a few pitchers from Triple-A when rosters expanded Wednesday none of that would have been an issue and they wouldn't have overworked Crain and Duensing while screwing up the rotation for the next week. Alex Burnett, Anthony Slama, Pat Neshek, Rob Delaney, and Anthony Swarzak are all on the 40-man roster and could have been added to the bullpen two days earlier.

Instead the Twins added zero pitching reinforcements, blew out the entire pitching staff in a 13-inning loss, and are now planning to call up various fresh arms for tonight's game. In fact, the rotation is so screwed up now that they're adding 27-year-old Matt Fox to the 40-man roster just so he can make his big-league debut starting tonight against the first-place Rangers. Without last night's disaster there's a decent chance Fox never pitches in the majors. Good for him, bad for the Twins.

And it all could have been avoided by simply expanding the roster on September 1.

Why didn't the Twins call anybody up on Wednesday? It's not like the Rochester Red Wings are fighting for the International League pennant. In fact, at 48-92 they've got the worst record in Triple-A. In retrospect, the decision to spurn Slama or Swarzak or Neshek or whoever seems quite unconscionable.

Matt Fox is probably going to lose to the Rangers tonight. Maybe it ultimately matters, probably it doesn't.

The Twins have bigger problems. With Kevin Slowey and now Scott Baker dealing with elbow injuries, the Twins might be down to Brian Duensing as their No. 3 starter and that just isn't going to work in October. Toss in Justin Morneau's continuing non-availability, and winning the American League Central might become a heroic victory, but ultimately a somewhat hollow one.