Twins Bullpen Carousel Continues to Spin

Dan WadeSenior Analyst IApril 20, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 6: Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire sends Jesse Crain #28 of the Minnesota Twins to the showers during a game against the Seattle Mariners at the Metrodome on April 6, 2009 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)

Three days after designating Philip Humber for assignment and signing Juan Morillo to try and patch up a bullpen which has struggled mightily for the first two weeks of the season, the Twins are moving and shaking once again.

This time the moves are all in-house, but surprising none the less.

Jesse Crain has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation and lefty Jose Mijares gets the call to replace him.

Crain had been the Twins most effective reliever (non-Nathan class, that is) until he melted down against the Blue Jays on April 17th, giving up four runs on two hits and three walks in just a third of an inning.

My initial hunch was that the Twins weren't eager to overuse Crain this early in the season, and that this was a way to test out new acquisition Juan Morillo. However, given that Crain is a few years removed from surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and labrum, this may be more true injury than roster move.

If Crain has reaggrivated that injury, the Twins could be in quite a bind for a set-up man. Morillo, even if he can show good control consistently, is unproven and how he'll react in pressure situations is something the Twins would like to know before they toss him into a late-inning, tie-game situation in Cleveland or Detroit.

Luis Ayala has closed a few games for various teams, but the only reason he'd be a Rolaids Relief Man now is because Ron Gardenhire would singlehandedly double global consumption of the antacid when Ayala came into close games.

Craig Breslow, until now the only southpaw in the Twins arsenal, has been used more situationally than as a late inning choice.

Could it be the man chosen to replace Crain in close and late situations will be the man who replaced him on the roster today?

Jose Mijares is a bit of a surprise call-up. Most observers expected him to spend at least a month at AAA Rochester, especially after his disastrous spring training.

Mijares was back to fine form in his first five appearances for the Red Wings. In 6.1 innings, Mijares allowed just two hits, one walk, and struck out four. His physique remains a concern, but if he can get hitters out consistently the Twins won't care how heavy he gets. 

If Mijares struggles during his 15-day stint in with the Twins there could be real problems. However, if he pitches well and can limit his walks, the Twins will have a very potent righty-lefty combination with Mijares and Morillo who are both capable of hitting the low to mid 90's with great frequency.