The Minnesota Twins made some headlines this past weekend more for what they didn’t do as opposed to what they actually did. Ervin Santana was scratched from his Sunday start with back stiffness, and instead of calling up their top prospect — the red-hot Jose Berrios — they went with Tyler Duffey.
The decision was not met with cheers from the Twins faithful. It was, however, the absolute right move.
Berrios is the 21-year old right-hander that was drafted by the Twins with the 32nd overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. He quickly ascended the Twins minor league ladder, making a one-game appearance at Triple-A — albeit a horrific three innings — in just his second season. Last year was a different story, as he made 12 starts at Rochester and was absolutely fantastic.
He went 6-2 with a 2.62 ERA, a microscopic 0.96 WHIP and an impressive 83-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 75.2 innings. He would lead Minor League Baseball in strikeouts with 175 combined between two levels.
He really caught fire at the end of last season. Berrios walked a mere four batters over his last seven starts while striking out 53 batters. The rumor mill came alive with talks of the Twins calling up their top prospect as they surprised baseball by actually being in the playoff hunt, but after throwing a career-high 166.1 innings between Double and Triple-A, the Twins opted to save their future star.
This past Sunday they once again — to the dismay of Twins fans everywhere — passed on Berrios. It was the right thing to do, simply because this was a spot start for Santana. The current Twins ace is not expected to miss a second start. Duffey will head back to Rochester in the morning. When Berrios arrives in Minnesota’s rotation, he won’t be leaving.
Duffey is 25 years old. He not only has major league experience, but performed well last season. He was pitching well again on Sunday before taking a comebacker off his shoulder. Though short, Duffey’s performance showed he was the right man for the job.
The right-hander was also something that Berrios was not: Part of the 40-man roster. Promoting Berrios would have meant removing someone from the 40-man roster, which would risk losing said player. It is simply too early in the season to tamper with the 40-man roster over a mere spot start.
Unlike with players like Trea Turner, this wasn’t a matter of the service time clock. As with Kris Bryant last season, Berrios had made it through that window. Had he pitched Sunday, he was already within that 172-day threshold, and the Twins have already gained an extra season of team control.
Nor was it a matter of ability. Berrios has started this season just like he finished last year. He has been on fire over his first three starts. His most recent start this past Thursday was his best. Berrios went seven strong two-hit, shutout innings, striking out seven and walking one to lower his ERA to 1.06 on the season.
For more reasons on why patience with Berrios was the right move, as well as projections and video, head on over to Today’s Knuckleball for the full piece by clicking the link below.