The Minnesota Twins have placed righthander Mike Pelfrey on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 19, with a strained back. As a result, the Twins have promoted lefthander Pedro Hernandez to make an emergency spot start. Because of the short outing that P.J. Walters gave the Twins during Saturday’s start when he only lasted 0.2 innings, the team needed a fresh arm who could eat up some innings and give the bullpen—hopefully—a rest on Sunday with an off day following on Monday.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Pelfrey said his back began to bother him Saturday while running in the outfield. He tried to play catch, but the discomfort persisted. He hoped to feel better today, but the problem didn’t go away overnight. Even then, he told the Twins that he wanted to try to warm up and see if he could make it through his start; however, he was too sore today to even give it a try.
Pelfrey’s inability to start today may hinder the Twins’ ability to win the finale of their series in Cleveland and avoid the sweep due to the fact that Pelfrey had been pitching better as of late. Pelfrey still wasn’t dominant in his latest starts, giving up a minimum of three earned runs in each of his last five starts, but he certainly was showing signs of progress and was keeping the Twins in many of the games that he pitched in.
Many fans are sure to be upset that the Twins didn’t take this latest injury opportunity and vacancy in the rotation to promote Kyle Gibson; but in reality, Gibson was never a realistic option to receive the promotion on Sunday. Gibson last pitched on Friday and went seven innings, allowing five hits, one run and striking out six. His arm was surely tired and the youngster will still need his normal rest in order to receive any promotion. According to Darren Wolfson, an ESPN 1500 contributor, when a Twins’ official was asked about the possibility of the Twins calling up Trevor May to make the emergency start on Sunday they stated that, “It wouldn’t be fair to call up May at the last second for his big-league debut.”
The source went on to say that Hernandez was still ahead of him in the pecking order for the promotion to the majors, but that May has been pitching well. The fact that the Twins may have even remotely considering May for a promotion speaks volumes of the progress that May is making this year in his effort to make it to the majors. On the season, May is 6-3 with a 3.56 ERA for Double-A New Britain. He may have not been a realistic option for the Twins to promote on Sunday and the team may have not seriously considered him, but he certainly has their attention. I would guess, however, that May is below Gibson in the pecking order for receiving a promotion and may even be below a pitcher like Vance Worley as well. At any rate, May is getting closer and closer to making his big-league debut with his recent strong performances.
There is a chance that Gibson or someone else could be promoted if Pelfrey’s injury keeps him out longer than expected, which means Hernandez may not remain with the club after he makes his start today. Over the next few days, the Twins will likely reevaluate Pelfrey and determine if Hernandez will make Pelfrey’s scheduled start in five days or if an additional roster move will be made in case Pelfrey is going to be out longer than expected. If Pelfrey is progressing nicely with his recovery, however, look for Hernandez to make the start five days from now and then be returned to the minors.