With any chance at contention in 2012 gone long ago, the Minnesota Twins now are looking to find players who can contribute at various spots on the field in the future. The spot most in need of significant change is on the pitcher’s mound, and more specifically the starting rotation. Multiple pitchers are getting an opportunity this month, among them Friday night’s starter Liam Hendriks.
Hendriks made his debut in the big leagues in 2011, and went 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA in four September starts (23.1 innings) along with 16 strikeouts and six walks. He didn’t have to wait as long to pitch for the Twins this year, making three starts in April, but he spent a large chunk of the season with Triple-A Rochester where he posted a 9-3 record and a 2.20 ERA over 16 starts (106.1 innings) with 82 strikeouts and 28 walks.
But that success has not translated to the majors, as Hendriks is now 0-7 with a 6.20 ERA in 12 starts (61 innings) with the Twins this season. The home run ball has been his enemy, as he has allowed 11, but high pitch counts have also contributed to him lasting five or fewer innings in eight of his starts, including Friday night against the Cleveland Indians.
Hendriks has now gone 16 major league starts without a win, though he did pitch his first career complete game in a recent start against the Seattle Mariners and their ace Felix Hernandez. He was hard-luck loser in that game, allowing just one run on three hits, as “King Felix” out-dueled him.
The Twins are unlikely to demote Hendriks to the bullpen at this point, so he should get close to a handful of starts more this season to prove he belongs and throw his hat in the ring to compete for a starting rotation spot next spring. The team, and certainly Hendriks himself, have nothing to lose at this point but the Twins would certainly like to see him throw more strikes and pick up his overall pace on the mound.