Michael Fulmer vs. Kyle Gibson
After the game yesterday, the Twins demoted Adalberto Mejia and put Justin Haley on the DL, but the corresponding moves weren't announced, although it was pretty clear that Jose Berrios was not one of those being called up. Late last night from LEN3: "Source says Vargas and Boshers coming up."
So the good news is that the Twins are going to a 12-man pitching staff and can win the series with a victory today. The bad news is they send out their worst starting pitcher to the mound today, at least thus far in the early going.
Twins management might argue that Mejia was the Twins' worst starter thus far this season, but while he struggled with control and it was almost painful to watch at times, his numbers still haven't been as bad as Gibson's, whose ERA and FIP are both north of 6. Gibson worked hard in the offseason to rework his mechanics. Thus far, you'd have to say it's still a work in progress at best.
Meanwhile, the Twins are waiting on the fallout from the scrum involving Miguel Sano yesterday, who threw a punch at Tigers catcher James McCann after the Tigers threw a pitch behind Sano in an obvious retaliation to Twins rookie pitcher Justin Haley hitting the Tigers' JaCoby Jones in the face with a pitch. When the Tigers' Matt Boyd threw behind Sano, he took a few steps toward Boyd and wagged his finger at Boyd to let him know he did not appreciate that. It was pretty obvious that Sano didn't intend to charge the mound, but while he was sending his message to Boyd, McCann jammed his catcher's glove (while still wearing his mask) in Sano's face and Sano reacted to it by throwing a punch at a guy in full catcher's gear.
The umpires did what was expected and ejected Sano as well as ejecting Boyd, apparently not for the pitch but for taking steps toward Sano that escalated the situation. Nothing happened to McCann, who was the obvious instigator.
The question now is what happens to those involved. MLB will be reviewing the situation, which could result in fines and/or suspensions. If Sano is suspended and nothing or little happens to McCann, I think the Twins would have a right to be indignant.
Mejia being sent out so quickly could also serve as a warning for Byron Buxton and his offensive struggles that he could be on a short leash. Inserting Kennys Vargas' bat into the lineup won't be easy since it means moving either Robbie Grossman (from DH) or Joe Mauer (from first base). Grossman has been the Twins' best hitter besides Sano, so Grossman will have to play a corner outfield spot to remain in the lineup, which means moving Max Kepler (who's been hitting well) or Eddie Rosario (who's been heating up the last few games after a very slow start).
Mauer would seem like a prime candidate to get reduced playing time because of his slow start at the plate. However, he's actually been hitting well with very poor luck, especially on line drives. He had another hard line drive that was caught in the outfield yesterday after hitting a double off the center field wall when taking over for Sano.
Buxton seems like a prime candidate to sit with Kepler or Rosario moving to center and Grossman taking over the vacant corner outfield spot and Vargas DHing. That seems very likely today since Buxton has sat Gibson's 2 previous starts as manager Paul Molitor hopes that Gibson gets back to his ground ball ways and thus Buxton's defense won't be needed as much.
Stat of the day: The Twins are 0-3 in 1-run games and are the only AL team that hasn't won a 1-run game. The Tigers are 5-1 in 1-run games. The Twins have a +12 run differential. The Tigers are -23.