With all of the hype and excitement surrounding the Kyle Gibson promotion to the majors, the Minnesota Twins behind closed doors are likely pondering a much more complicated question: who is going to get the axe to make room for Gibson long-term? Twins’ General Manager Terry Ryan stated that once he called up Gibson—baring some historically awful performances—it would likely be for good, which means that someone is going to have to be removed from the rotation unless the team opts to go to a six-man rotation or move Gibson into the bullpen.
Moving Gibson to the bullpen would save some innings that the team plans on limiting for him this season—his first full season back from Tommy John surgery—which would mean that he could pitch longer this season, but Ryan and manager Ron Gardenhire have made no inclination that they have any plans for putting Gibson anywhere but the starting rotation. With that in mind, the Twins could opt to go with a six-man rotation—which I have discussed in a previous Twins’ article accessed by clicking here—to limit the wear on Gibson’s arm for the rest of the season and to keep all of their current starters in the rotation at least until the trading deadline where they then could trade one of them and open up a spot that way; however, Kevin Correia is currently the only one in the rotation with any real trade value and a trade for him isn’t likely until the deadline gets closer and the price for him hopefully goes up.
With Correia the most likely trade candidate—which could happen before the deadline once Mike Pelfrey returns from injury if the right deal presents itself—that leaves Pelfrey, P.J. Walters and Scott Diamond as the three most likely candidates to receive a demotion to Triple-A due to Gibson’s promotion. Samuel Deduno seems safe for now and I’m inclined to believe that Diamond also will be kept around, which essentially cuts the choice for the Twins down to Walters and Pelfrey. At this point, I’d give Pelfrey the inside track to keep a rotation spot out of the two.
With Pelfrey—who has been pitching better of late, but still hasn’t pitched great—on the disabled list for the next week or more, the Twins can use the time as an audition for who should be sent down or dealt to make room for Gibson long-term. This could mean demoting a player or also waiting for the right trade possibility to present itself for a team looking to add starting pitching at a great value before the deadline. Don’t forget, the Twins also have Trevor May rising through the minors and he could also be threatening for a position in the rotation by season’s end so don’t be so sure that the makeup of the rotation isn’t going to be undergoing even more changes after the Gibson situation is settled. It also wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities to see the Twins promote Vance Worley sometime this summer if he continues to pitch well in Triple-A.
While the Twins may fall out of contention at some point this season, watching youngsters like Gibson pitch and develop is something to look forward to if you are a Twins’ fan; although, watching how the game of musical pitchers works itself out might also be quite entertaining during the dog days of summer. If I were a betting man, I’d say the rotation will consist of Gibson, Diamond, Deduno, Worley and Walters by the July 31 trading deadline with May joining the rotation to replace Walters by September.
While the Twins may not be actively pursuing a division title come August and September, they certainly will have plenty of headlines surrounding them that will make them an interesting team to follow as the season trudges on.