Mike Pelfrey pitched really well last night. Is that a good thing?
If we're just talking about last night's game, it obviously is. The Twins won 3-0 and Mike Pelfrey would probably be considered the player of the game. When the Twins scored three in the first, I doubt if anyone expected those three runs would be enough to win. But they were, and we mainly have Mike Pelfrey to thank for that. Seven innings of shutout ball, giving up five hits and two walks, is good pitching in anyone's book.
If we're talking longer term, however, the answer is less obvious. Ricky Nolasco will be coming back soon, and whether we like it or not he'll be going back into the starting rotation. That means someone has to leave the rotation and someone has to be sent back to Rochester. Hughes, Gibson, and Milone aren't likely to be going anywhere, so it appears to be between Pelfrey and Trevor May. With Pelfrey pitching well last night and not badly the time before, it seems likely Molitor and Ryan will decide that he's turned a corner and leave him in the rotation, with May (who also pitched well last time and not badly the time before) sent back to Rochester.
If Pelfrey actually has turned a corner (and in truth, the Twins are in a better position to evaluate that than I am), this would be all right. However, I am very skeptical that this is true. Mike Pelfrey hasn't had a good year since 2010, unless you count the three starts he made in 2012. I'm going to need a lot more evidence than one half-decent start and one good start before I decide that he's suddenly going to be good again. Plus, this is a team that, in theory, is building for the future. I don't know whether Trevor May will be part of that future or not, but he has a lot better chance of it than Mike Pelfrey does. I'm not saying we should give Pelfrey his release, but I would sent him back to the bullpen and let go of one of the pitchers there (Boyer and Stauffer seem like obvious choices).
This really is one of those times where we'll see if anything significant has changed since last year. In the Gardy/Ryan era, I have no doubt that May would be sent back. If he is now, it'll be more evidence that, while we have a new person in the manager's chair, nothing much about the organization has changed. If May remains in the rotation, well, maybe something has. We'll know soon.
There are at least two other things to talk about. One is Torii Hunter's attempted steal of home. I'm hesitant to criticize Hunter too much, simply because I was neither watching nor listening at the time. A steal of home is one of those things that seems totally awesome when it works and totally stupid when it doesn't, but that's not a fair way to evaluate it. As we remarked yesterday, in baseball there are times when a completely logical move fails and times when a completely illogical move succeeds.
The situation was second inning, Twins ahead 3-0, bases loaded, two out, Kennys Vargas up to bat. As I watched the highlight, it occurred to me that a younger Torii Hunter might have been safe. It does seem a strange time to try to steal home, though, with you best power hitter up. If he connects with one, you can break the game open. Hunter did have the element of surprise on his side. This, however, reminds me of a quote from Doctor Who: "But we've got surprise on our side. They'll never expect three people to attack twelve thousand Dalek battleships. 'Cause we'd be killed instantly, so it would be a fairly short surprise. Forget surprise."
The other thing to talk about is that the Twins sent minor league catcher Dan Rohlfing to the Mets for Cash Considerations. Rohlfing has also played some outfield and a little first base. He's 26. In 618 AA at bats he hit .251 with an OPS of .630. In 305 AAA at-bats he hit .236 with an OPS of .679. It's probably safe to say he won't hit. One assumes he's good defensively, although I have no proof of that other than he can't hit, so he must do something to justify his roster spot. At best, he'll be the Drew Butera sort of catcher who's pretty much always available if you happen to need one. Reports are that the Mets are sending him to AAA Las Vegas, and he'll probably stay there unless they get injuries to their major league catchers. Good luck to him, but I don't see it as a big loss for the Twins.
So, having taken one of three on the road from the defending American League champions, the Twins are rewarded with a day off before taking on the Mariners in Seattle. It'll be advertised as a matchup of aces, but their ace is King Felix and our ace is Prince Philip. But hey, if Mike Pelfrey can pitch seven shutout innings against the Royals, anything is possible. We've started our season-ending winning streak! We're still on track for 153-9!