With expected starter Homer Bailey going on the injured list, the Minnesota Twins will have to go with a bullpen-by-committee approach for the second straight game when they open a two-game home series with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night.
And that might not be such a bad thing judging by the results of Sunday’s 3-1 victory over American League Central rival Cleveland.
Six Twins pitchers combined to two-hit the Indians as Minnesota won its third consecutive game.
Bailey was supposed to start that one before getting his start pushed back a day. The Twins then elected to place the right-hander on the 10-day injured list on Sunday with right biceps tendinitis.
So left-hander Lewis Thorpe (0-0, 0.00 ERA), who has allowed no runs and three hits in 4 2/3 innings in relief this season, will make the third start of his major league career and first-ever appearance against the Pirates on Monday.
Bailey helped pitch the Twins to a 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in his Minnesota starting debut on Tuesday, allowing two runs and four hits over five innings.
“(The) assessment by our docs is there’s nothing major going on, more tendinitis related more than anything,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters. “Not something we’re overly worried about but also not something where we want to put him on the mound tomorrow with.”
Thorpe last pitched two innings of relief in a 2-0 loss to the Indians on Thursday night, allowing no runs and two hits over two innings.
The Twins used most of their bullpen in Sunday’s win over Cleveland. Tyler Clippard started things with two perfect innings with Devin Smeltzer, Matt Wisler, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May and Sergio Romo also pitching at least an inning. Smeltzer, who allowed a run on two hits after Clippard, picked up the win while Romo pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to garner his second save.
“It was a pretty special afternoon for our guys in the bullpen,” Baldelli said. “They flat-out pitched great from top to bottom.”
The Twins, who have opened up a two-game lead in the AL Central over the Chicago White Sox with six wins in their last seven games, now play four in a row against the struggling Pirates — two at home followed by two in Pittsburgh. The Pirates come in off a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Sunday and have dropped four in a row.
Left-hander Derek Holland (0-0, 3.18) will start Monday’s opener for the Pirates. Holland is 3-7 with a 5.56 ERA in 14 appearances (13 starts) against the Twins but has really struggled at Target Field in his career, compiling an 0-5 record and a 7.98 ERA in six starts while allowing six home runs in 29 1/3 innings.
Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton spent the previous two seasons as a bench coach for the Twins before landing his first managerial job and remains tight with Baldelli.
“I think I’ve taken parts of every person I’ve worked with and gone through,” Shelton told MLB.com. “The fact that Rocco and I were most recently together and we’re close friends — I’ve taken a lot. I’ve talked to him a lot about how to do things and how things went. I was here, so I kind of have a good idea of the transformation and how it’s going. But I just try to be myself.”
–Field Level Media