How long are they going to put themselves through this? How many opportunities are they going to give this kid to work out of his funk and prove that he can pitch in the majors? Those are some of the questions that I asked myself after watching Josh Roenicke blow another lead on Friday night, leading the Minnesota Twins to an extra-inning defeat at the hands of the Boston Red Sox, 3-2.
When you watch Roenicke, there are some obvious skills that he possesses which makes you realize why the Twins have some faith in the reliever. He does have some good pitches that have “swing-and-miss” potential and he can rack up some strikeouts when his stuff is working. The problem seems to be Roenicke’s control and his ability to pitch in big situations. Roenicke hasn’t shown the ability to come into a big game and get a big out or two and as a reliever, those are some of the qualities you have to have. Especially with the Twins’ bullpen getting overworked because of the ineffectiveness of the starting rotation, a premium is placed on having all of the relievers in the bullpen able to pitch in big innings and get tough outs. Over his last few appearances, Roenicke hasn’t been able to live up to the expectations and needs of the Twins.
Over his last five appearances out of the bullpen, Roenicke has given up nine hits, seven runs (all earned), five walks and two homeruns over 6.2 innings of work. In three of those games, Roenicke has entered in spot where he is asked to hold a lead or keep the other team off the board so the offense can make a comeback; all of which are typical expectations of a reliever. In two of his appearances, Roenicke entered with a lead and held his own, but still gave up a run.
If you ask me, Roenicke may be best suited for a long-reliever role if he wants to remain at the majors because he can’t seem to pitch in pressure packed situations or when the game is close; however, Roenicke seems to pitch just fine when he has a big lead or if the game is out of hand. Those qualities scream long-reliever out of the bullpen because Roenicke does have good enough stuff—despite lackluster command—to belong in the majors. Unfortunately for Roenicke, the Twins already have Anthony Swarzak in the long-reliever role and there are no plans of him moving out of that role because he does a great job in it at the current time.
That leaves the Twins with three options: release Roenicke, trade him or send him to the minors. I would vote for the third option because I think Roenicke could turn it around with some proper coaching that addresses his command issues. At the present time, however, Roenicke is not getting it done and the Twins need to make a move now before he costs them more victories. Now is not the time to show patience with a reliever who is not getting it done. Instead, it is time to look within the organization and find another pitcher who deserves a shot and can give the Twins better performances on a more consistent basis.