The Minnesota Twins have gotten a wide variety of performances from their starting pitchers so far this season, from the good (Scott Diamond, Kevin Correia), to the mostly bad (Mike Pelfrey) and the at times very ugly (Vance Worley).
The most recently example of an ugly performance from a Twins’ starter came Wednesday night against the Boston Red Sox. Pedro Hernandez, who has gotten an opportunity to serve as the No. 5 starter recently, allowed six runs on seven hits over two innings, but avoided a loss due to Minnesota’s 15-run outburst. Over his last two starts, Hernandez has allowed 11 earned runs over 7.1 innings (13.50 ERA) along with five walks and four strikeouts. So the young left-hander’s hold on a spot in the starting rotation has to be tenuous, but do the Twins have someone ready to replace him?
Kyle Gibson was recently mentioned by Jim Shonerd of Baseball America as a possible call-up for the Twins, and he had his best outing of the season at Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday night, throwing a four-hit shutout with eight strikeouts and two walks. The 2009 first-round pick has allowed three runs or less in five of his seven starts this season, including one run or less four times, and is now 2-4 with a 3.32 ERA with 35 strikeouts and 11 walks overall.
Gibson underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in November of 2011, derailing his progress as one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. He returned to action late last season, and posted a 4.13 ERA and a 33:6 K/BB ratio over 13 appearances (11 starts) at three minor league levels.
Gibson is making a case for call-up to the big leagues, but the Twins are unlikely to alter their plan to keep him on an innings limit in his first full season post-surgery. He is close to one-third of the way toward an assumed limit of 130-140 innings at this point (40.2 innings pitched), and if he maintains his average innings per start (5.7) from so far this season he could make 17 or 18 more starts before pitching 100 more innings.
The Twins could theoretically use Gibson out of the bullpen to help prolong his season, but until he is called up the team’s exact plan for using him will not be known to the public. In any case, there is little reason for the Twins to keep Gibson in Triple-A much longer as long as he is healthy and pitching well.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.