With the Twins Season Opener at the Metrodome just two weeks away, the roster is starting to take shape. Yet, there are still some position battles still raging on that will be very interesting to watch over the last two weeks of Spring Training. The Twins have had a pretty good Spring and hope to finish on a high note heading into the Regular Season. I believe the most intriguing competition going on is for a spot in the bullpen.
This is possibly the most interesting position battle that is still going on. If you would have asked me at the start of Spring Training whether either of these two would be fighting for a spot, I would have called you crazy. With the loss of Boof Bonser for the 2009 season, the Twins have been trying to figure out who could take his spot. With the starting rotation already set, these two will be battling for the long-relief position and/or the mop-up situation.
R.A. Dickey has had a very solid Spring, although the numbers may not show that. In 8 appearances he is 2-2 with a 3.72 ERA. The stat that surprises me the most is his strikeout and walk total. He has 11 strikeouts and has only walked two batters. Once I think about it, I shouldn’t be that surprised as the Twins pitching staff is known for issuing very few walks throughout the season. And did I forget to mention Dickey is a knuckleball pitcher? That has something to do with the strikeout total as well. Dickey also has the veteran experience advantage over Philip Humber, so Dickey has been in many more situations and knows how to do deal with them.
Philip Humber is an interesting case when it comes to possibly winning the battle for a spot on the 25 man roster. He was acquired in the Johan Santana deal along with Carlos Gomez and Kevin Mulvey. So far, the Twins have really only been able to show off Gomez. I have a feeling we will be seeing more of Humber this season. Not only because we have two open spots and we need them filled, but also because he is out of minor league options. So, I would say he already has the advantage over R.A. Dickey for a spot. If the Twins don’t pick Humber, then he would be designated for assignment, which he can refuse. Then this leaves the Twins with two choices; place him on the active roster or release him. But after the Spring he is having, I don’t see why he shouldn’t win the spot. After giving up four runs in his first appearance, he has gone seven innings giving up only one earned run and just five hits. So he has definitely proven himself thus far and hopefully he can keep this up and earn a spot.
So, after watching and following this battle throughout the Spring, I would have to give the edge to Philip Humber. With two weeks left though, either of them could take a bad turn that would allow the other to win the spot, so this will be very interesting to watch down the stretch. One other scenario is that Humber could be waiting in the wing as an injury replacement if one of the starters goes down with injury. Hopefully that isn’t necessary though.