The Twins’ bullpen has to cover 18 innings in Saturday’s critical doubleheader against Cleveland.
It’s not an ideal scenario for the Twins, who already had a ‘pen game planned for Saturday, and now have to do it twice after burning starter Jake Odorizzi Friday. Still, they have the personnel to get it done, and with prospect Jorge Alcala reportedly coming up to help, they’ll have a lot of fresh arms to work with.
Let’s start this exercise with a look at every available bullpen arm, and how many pitches they’ve thrown in the last six days. Counting Alcala and not counting Sam Dyson (injured), they have 15 available arms:
Taylor Rogers (0 pitches)
Sergio Romo (16)
Tyer Duffey (0)
Trevor May (14)
Zack Littell (13)
Lewis Thorpe (0)
Randy Dobnak (11)
Brusdar Graterol (23)
Cody Stashak (3)
Jorge Alcala (0)
Fernando Romero (21)
Ryne Harper (0)
Devin Smeltzer (0)
Trevor Hildenberger (32)
Kohl Stewart (43)
Predicting exactly how this is going to go is essentially impossible, but I think we can narrow things down a bit by placing the arms into appropriate groups.
These are pitchers most likely to open the game and pitch more than one inning:
These are pitchers most likely to pitch one inning in the middle of the game, regardless of score:
(Plus any of the pitchers in the “opener candidates” section that don’t open the game)
These are pitchers most likely to pitch in the late innings if the game is close:
Stewart (43 pitches on Thursday)
Still following? Sort of? Let’s map out one example of how this might work. In this scenario we’ll make two assumptions:
1) Both games are relatively close
2) Lewis Thorpe and Randy Dobnak have been tabbed the openers for games one and two, respectively.
Who would be likely to pitch in that scenario, and how long might they go? Let’s give this a shot.
Lewis Thorpe (First and second inning)
Fernando Romero (Third inning)
Ryne Harper (Fourth inning)
Trevor Hildenberger (Fifth inning)
Brusdar Graterol (Sixth inning)
Zack Littell (Seventh inning)
Taylor Rogers (Eighth and ninth innings)
It’s highly unlikely, of course, that each would go exactly one inning. Rather, the Twins would play matchups. But, this already convoluted exercise will get too convoluted if we start getting into all the possible matchup scenarios, so we’ll keep it as simple as we can.
All right, assuming the Twins don’t want to use a pitcher twice in the same day, here’s what the second game might look like, sticking with our example and assumptions from above.
Randy Dobnak (First and second inning)
Devin Smeltzer (Third inning)
Jorge Alcala (Fourth inning)
Cody Stashak (Fifth inning)
Trevor May (sixth inning)
Tyler Duffey (seventh and eighth inning)
Sergio Romo (Ninth inning)
If either game is a blowout, the formula changes. If the Twins are losing big, they may ask Stewart to eat a couple more innings, or have someone like Hildenberger or Harper go three innings. If they win the first game, they may try to stretch their Game 2 opener three or four innings, since the pressure would presumably be less intense to win the nightcap.
This is a lot of speculation, of course. It simply represents a best guess at how this might play out if both games are close. One thing is certain: It’s going to be a long, weird, fun day of meaningful September baseball.