Tommy Milone was fantastic in his first start of the season, tossing 7.1 shutout innings and guiding the Minnesota Twins to their first victory of the season.
But the lefty has struggled since that first outing, and with Ricky Nolasco set to come off the disabled list and start on Saturday, Twins manager Paul Molitor announced this afternoon that Milone would join the bullpen.
Milone hasn’t made it out of the sixth inning in any of his last three starts while allowing five home runs. He has only struck out six batters in those games, after sending down seven in his first start of the year. The team has not announced who they will be sending down, as Nolasco is not expected to be activated until the day of his start.
Nolasco has progressed nicely after suffering an elbow injury in his first start of the season. An MRI reveled that it was only inflammation and he began throwing again in just a matter of days. During a rehab start with Cedar Rapids (Class A) last weekend, Nolasco tossed five innings, striking out five and allowing an unearned run.
Milone was not thrilled about the news of his demotion but has accepted it as the best move for the team.
Mike Pelfrey and Trevor May were likely the other two candidates to be moved to the bullpen with Nolasco’s impending return to the active roster. Pelfrey was sent to the bullpen towards the end of Spring Training but the Ervin Santana suspension allowed him to jump back into the rotation last-minute. A 2-0 record through four starts with a 2.25 was good enough to keep him in the rotation.
May started the season in Rochester (AAA) but was called up just two games into the season after Nolasco originally went down. He was roughed up in his first start of the season and allowed five runs in 5.1 innings but he has looked a little better with every start. He left his most recent start early after taking a hard-line drive off the elbow, but he avoided bigger injury and will make his next start as scheduled.