On Sunday, we learned that Joel Zumaya was done even before the Twins started playing Spring Training Games. An MRI exam revealed that Zumaya had a torn Ulnar Collateral Legament (UCL). On Saturday, he walked off with a trainer after throwing batting practice to some of the Twins hitters.
In a previous post, I’d suggested that the Twins had two open spots in the bullpen. Now, it looks like that there will probably be three.
the Twins are now left with 32 pitchers in camp. This means that there are plenty of options that the Twins can pick from. And of course, there’s always a chance the Twins could bring in a free agent, but I think it’s more likely that they will pick from the pitchers they have in Spring Training. I thought I’d take a look at some of the more likely candidates that the Twins could pick from.
I think that it is more likely that the Twins will have Alex Burnette on the team, but he will have to earn it. Last season, Burnette pitched in 66 appearances with an ERA of 5.51 with 21 bases on balls and 33 strikeouts. However, the fact that Burnette has pitched for almost two full seasons in the majors makes him more likely to be picked to fill one of the remaining three bullpen spots.
Phil Dumatrait who re-signed as a minor league free agent with the Twins pitched in 45 games for the Twins last season, finishing with a 3.92 ERA. The fact he walked 25 batters in 41 1/3 innings of pitching is a little high, but as long as the base runners don’t score that’s all that matters.
Kyle Waldrop is another potensial candidate that could be in the bullpen this season for the Twins. A first round draft pick from 2004, He made his major league debut late last season and would pitch in 7 games, allowing 10 hits in 11 innings. He would finish with an eRA of 5.73, walking 6 and striking out 5. If Waldrop has a good spring, I think there’s a good chance he will be on the big league club come April 6.
Lester Oliveros is another possible candidate. Aquired from the Detroit Tigers in the Delmon Young trade last August, Oliveros pitched in 19 games between the Tigers and Twins . He finished the season with an ERA of 4.64, struck out 13 and walked 11.
Esmerling Vasquez is another pitcher that could make the club. Aquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks when the Diamondbacks designated him for assignment last fall, Vasquez pitched in 31 games with an ERA of 4.15. he walked 13 and struck out 20 in 30 1/3 innings.
Jeff Gray is a minor league free agent the Twins brought into camp as an option in the bullpen. Gray has a career ERA of 4.57. Last season, he pitched in 30 games, striking out 23, walking 21 and allowing 52 hits in 48 1/3 innings of pitching with an ERA of 4.28.
Jason Bulger is another possible candidate for the bullpen. He last pitched last season for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. After 5 appearances in which he had an ERA of 0.96, Bulger was sent to the Minors. In his career, Bulger has an ERA of 4.33 in 133 innings of pitching in parts of 7 seasons. He’s walked 75 batters and struck out 138.
Jared Burton was aquired as a minor league free agent from the Cincinatti Reds. Last season, shoulder problems limited him to 6 appearances where he had an ERA of 3.86. In his career, Burton has pitched in 164 games with an ERA of 3.46. He had his best season in his rookie year where he pitched in 47 games with an ERA of 2.51, walking 22 and striking out 36.
Matt Maloney is another pitcher from the Cincinatti Reds organization who was brought in as another minor league free agent. Last season, Maloney only pitched in 8 games with an ERA of 9.16. In three seasons with the Reds, he pitched in 22 games, struck out 52 and walked 17 with an ERA of 5.40.
These are just some of the pitchers that I think have the best shot of making the Twins out of spring training. The fact that Zumaya is out for the season means that there’s one more spot on the big league roster meaning that there are more opporunities for players to step up in Spring training. Who of this group does well, will be on the club.