The Minnesota Twins had to make roster moves with Ervin Santana set to come off the restricted list and all the dust settled Saturday as the veteran right-hander was officially reinstated.
Santana will join the Twins rotation and start Sunday afternoon’s game against the Kansas City Royals while Trevor May loses his starting spot and moves to the bullpen. The team demoted top pitching prospect Alex Meyer back to the minors after he made two relief appearances in the big leagues.
These moves that had to be made only make the Twins a stronger force as the race for playoff spots in the American League begins to heat up. Both the starting rotation and bullpen are now stronger going forward.
The end of Santana’s suspension gave Minnesota some good problems as it was hard for the team to decide which starter to demote. Phil Hughes is 7-2 in his last nine decisions, Tommy Milone has a 1.95 ERA since the beginning of June, Kyle Gibson is 11th league wide in ERA, and Mike Pelfrey has surprised many by posting a sub-4.00 ERA on the season. That just left Trevor May who is 4-7 with a 4.37 ERA, but he didn’t make the choice easy. The 25-year-old righty has allowed two or fewer earned runs in eight of his 15 starts, but he has struggled with consistency in his first full Major League season.
Minnesota already has the fifth-best ERA from starting pitchers in the American League and adding Santana will be an upgrade over the inconsistent May. But May won’t be forgotten with this move to the bullpen. While Twins starters have been successful in 2015, the bullpen hasn’t been a strong point for the team. Closer Glen Perkins is a perfect 27-for-27 in save opportunities, but after that there isn’t too much to brag about. Their bullpen’s ERA ranks 11th in the American League and features pitchers like Brian Duensing and Aaron Thompson, who both have an ERA on the wrong side of five.
May will be a positive contributor right away in the Twins bullpen by adding a strikeout punch to a bullpen that desperately needs one. Minnesota’s bullpen currently fans just over five batters per nine innings, which is last in the Majors. His 71 strikeouts on the season ranks first among Twins pitchers and his 7.95 K/9 ratio ranks second on the team only to Perkins. May will also have one of the hardest fastballs in the team’s bullpen as well.
Sunday is one of the biggest days of the season for Minnesota. It marks the debut of Santana, a pitcher they spent over $50 million on this offseason, and they’re in position to take a series from the first place Kansas City Royals. Santana was a perfect 3-0 in his three Triple-A rehab starts and if he can deliver it will be just like the Twins added a big arm at the trade deadline.
The team played their 81st game Saturday and is now halfway through the 2015 season. The Twins are currently holding onto the top wild card spot in the American League, and are half a game above the Los Angeles Angles, who have the second spot at the moment. A win against the Royals Sunday afternoon would pull Minnesota to within three games of the division lead.