The Minnesota Twins brought back Mike Pelfrey on a two-year, $11 million deal during the offseason, and through his first five innings of the season they looked wise for doing so. But after those five perfect innings against the Cleveland Indians, he allowed 13 earned runs over his next 9.2 innings to push his ERA up to 7.98 through three starts. Wednesday night’s outing against the Tampa Bay Rays looked like an early turning point in Pelfrey’s season, even if it’s still a bit too early to say his status in the starting rotation should be in jeopardy.
As he did in his first start, Pelfrey completed five innings then hit a wall in the sixth. Rays’ outfielder Wil Myers led off the inning with a base hit, then Pelfrey was removed after hitting Logan Forsythe with a pitch. Pelfrey again had an elevated pitch count Wednesday night, throwing 92 pitches, which can be blamed on a couple issues that have plagued him all season. Pelfrey has now thrown 372 pitches in his four starts, with just 202 (54.3 percent) going for strikes. Just 12 of the 153 strikes Pelfrey threw in his first three outings came via a swing and miss, so he is pitching to contact at a level that is a huge concern, particularly when paired with poor command (15 walks and eight strikeouts).
Samuel Deduno was a candidate for the No. 5 spot in the Twins’ starting rotation during spring training, but he was beaten out by Kyle Gibson and has pitched in the bullpen thus far. Deduno did allow two inherited runners to score on Tuesday night, but he has not been charged with a run in any of his last three outings (9.2 innings) to drop his ERA to 1.84 on the season in six appearances.
The Twins will end their road trip Thursday in Tampa Bay, and with an off day next Monday Pelfrey’s next start won’t come until next Tuesday at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers. If Deduno is not needed out of the bullpen over the next couple days, I think he should be held out through the weekend and given a chance to start next Tuesday night at Target Field in Pelfrey’s place.
Whether Pelfrey takes the mound for Minnesota or not, you can click here to get all you Twins tickets all season long.