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MLB Arizona Diamondbacks

Will Twins final playoff roster spot go to Rauch or Baker?

[picappgallerysingle id="9187090"]The Minnesota Twins have one final playoff roster spot left, and it’s pretty much down to two pitchers for the job: Jon Rauch or Scott Baker. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced that right-hander Kevin Slowey and lefty Jose Mijares will join the Twins roster in the bullpen, so that leaves one spot left for either Rauch or Baker. Who will it be?

Jon Rauch is the likeliest candidate, but for one problem – a bad knee. Rauch received a cortisone shot in his left knee, which was also drained of fluid. Rauch was unable to pitch during the last of the Twins and Toronto Blue Jays series to end regular season play, but Rauch is expected to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday.

Ron Gardenhire has said that a decision about the remaining playoff roster spot for the Twins – and the fates of Jon Rauch and starting pitcher Scott Baker – will wait until after Rauch throws his bullpen session Tuesday.

The last playoff roster spot was believed to be up for grabs between Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker, and Glen Perkins (why?), with Jon Rauch’s spot secured. That was until Rauch’s knee took on fluid and needed to be drained. Gardenhire said that Rauch has been bothered by his knee for awhile, but that he’s been able to pitch through it. This is the first time Rauch has needed a cortisone shot in that knee.

Now, with Rauch potentially disabled and Kevin Slowey already on the playoff roster, will Scott Baker make the Twins playoff bullpen? I certainly hope so. Baker has great stuff, and with his tender right elbow (he’s had two cortisone shots in it over the course of the regular season), the Twins don’t need to worry about stretching Baker out since he’d be in the bullpen.

I like Jon Rauch – I do. He’s got a commanding presence on the plate (naturally, since he’s 6’11”), but I am more confident and comfortable with Scott Baker. Baker is rattled less easily than Rauch, as Rauch showed us during his tenure this season as the Twins closer (he was replaced at the trade deadline with Matt Capps). And more than that, I think that Baker has better stuff than Rauch does.

Basically, it comes down to this: who’s going to be able to keep their head on straight against the Yankees? If the Twins beat the Yankees, I think they’ll go all the way. But they’ve got to get past the team that’s given them three playoff series losses in recent years. The Yankees have proven unbeatable to the Twins in the post season, and not particularly beatable during the regular season, either.

So, who has the mental game to get past the Yankees, Baker or Rauch? I’m inclined to say Baker. But if Rauch’s knee is stable enough to allow him to pitch, the question will be moot.