I last wrote about the Twins in early June. In retrospect, it’s clear I jinxed them. The Twins went from a 20-7 month of May to a 11-17 month of June. Twins batters went from a .748 OPS (.269/.316/.432) month of May to a .689 OPS (.240/.295/.394) month of June. The Twins pitching staff’s ERA increased from 3.57 in May to 4.06 in June. That’s actually still pretty decent, especially considering the Twins’ ragtag staff. But with the offense slumping, decent pitching was not good enough.
But there is hope for July. Blue-chip prospect Miguel Sano got the call-up from Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts yesterday. He will play DH. DH is a position the Twins have managed a paltry .663 OPS and 5 home runs on the season. In contrast, Sano has a 1.002 OPS and 12 home runs in his last 50 games. Granted those were minor league pitchers. But, even so, Sano looks to be a big improvement.
The other big change in the line up is getting starting pitcher Ervin Santana back into the rotation Sunday after his 80 game suspension for testing positive for a performance enhancing drug. The Twins haven’t announced which pitcher is getting axed from the rotation. Trevor May might be the odd man out as the youngster, despite leading the club in strikeouts with 71 in 80 innings. Relatively speaking, it’s just an embarrassment of riches for a Twins staff that was godawful last year. There’s a good case for each starter.
Tommy Milone is also new to the rotation but is 4-1 with a 3.19 ERA this season; so, he seems safe for the time being. Phil Hughes has pitched better in June (3-2 with a 3.76 ERA), defending his spot in the rotation. Mike Pelfrey, on the other hand, has come back down to earth and is posting familiar numbers with a 1-4 record in June thanks to a 5.35 ERA. Pelfrey very likely will ultimately prove to be the weakest link in the rotation despite his strong first two months. Kyle Gibson had a mediocre June record but posted 28 strikeouts in 30 innings with a 1.21 WHIP, which suggests his 4.70 ERA for the month was in part bad luck. And then there’s Ricky Nolasco slowly recovering from his ankle thing. Let’s hope it’s a long injury since he’d probably be a worse option than any of these guys.
And update, Sano is 0-3 with a lineout and two strikeouts in his first game. But he probably gets one more at bat this game and plus the rest of the season to flash his power and maybe not so strike out so much.