In what shouldn’t come as a surprise, the Minnesota Twins sent right-handed reliever Alex Burnett to Triple-A on Thursday as the team prepares for Opening Day. Although he showed signs of improvement during his last few outings, Burnett struggled in spring training this year, posting a 7.56 ERA with six walks and one strikeout in seven appearances.
The demotion of Burnett signals that the Twins are likely going to keep lefty Tyler Robertson around as a middle reliever until the injured Rafael Perez is fully healed.
Burnett’s consistency has been something of a concern with the Twins, as he has failed to live up to the promise that he displayed as part of the Twins’ minor league system. Over his three-year stint at the majors with the Twins, Burnett has accumulated an 8-11 record with a 4.61 ERA over 174 games.
The righty has been known to struggle during Spring Training, but it was his inability to show any signs of consistency this year that has cost him his spot in the bullpen. As well, the Twins have brought in additional competition for Burnett in the bullpen with the likes of Perez and possibly Rich Harden, so the pressure to perform was crucial, and he didn’t meet the challenge.
This is not the end of the career for Burnett, and it is possible that he will regain his form in the minors and be back with the club in a short amount of time. If he wants to remain at the majors, his inconsistency is a problem that needs to be fixed.
The Twins now have 28 players left in their spring training camp, 15 of which are pitchers. The rest of the roster breakdown looks like this: two catchers, six infielders and five outfielders. The Twins also will have two players start the season on the disabled list in Scott Diamond and Anthony Swarzak, which means there is still one cut remaining.
Tim Wood — who may also start the season on the disabled list — is close to rejoining the club, but he might not be ready to start the season with the Twins at the big leagues. This is why Robertson has remained in the bullpen, even after a lackluster spring.
With injuries to Perez, Swarzak and Wood and poor springs by Burnett and Robertson, the Twins bullpen situation looks anything but solidified ahead of Opening Day.