Twins update

Last night's game featured a pleasant surprise: my least favorite pitcher on the team, Mike Pelfrey, threw harder than he has in years and showed the development of a split-finger fastball, which, when he used it, was unhittable. In the past, the split finger has resurrected many careers and given some mediocre careers a flash of glory--for instance, Mike Scott of the Astros in 1986. The success is usually short-lived, as the split finger places undue stress on the arm, but in Mike Pelfrey's case he had nothing to lose. 

Last night, Pelfrey threw seven shutout innings for his first win since 2013. 

The Twins, along with several other teams, continue to struggle at bat. The team we are watching right now is likely to change in a hurry after May 1 when the young kids down in the minor leagues can be brought up without the team losing a year of control. Byron Buxton isn't hitting at Chattanooga, but Adam Brett Walker is pounding the ball. The present mediocrity in center and left field will not last. Arcia has to learn to hit (or lay off) high fastballs or his promise will fade. Robinson and Schaeffer in center field aren't of major league calibre. 

I am enjoying Paul Molitor's management style. He is more flexible than Gardenhire, changing up the lineup, platooning when needed (that is, inserting right-handed hitters against left-handed starters and visa versa), going with his gut at times, employing drastic shifts in defense, making sensible, if unconventional moves. I agreed with his decision to bring Glen Perkins in to a tie game in the eighth inning against Kansas City the other night, even if it failed. Gardenhire would never have considered such a move until the playoffs, by which time the players were so used to his conservative approach that his sudden unconventionality appeared more as panic.

The Twins will eventually hit the ball, but Molitor is right to keep shaking up the lineup. In time, Terry Ryan will move and this lineup could change.

The bullpen isn't as bad as forecast, with Aaron Thompson, J. R. Graham and Casey Fien showing promise and, more importantly, velocity. Perkins is overrated, but closers can muddle through when they only work a few outs every few days. Eddie Guardado kept us on edge for years with mediocre stuff, but in the end, he got the job done. If Perkins does the same, that's fine. 

Torii Hunter is trying to inspire the younger players. Last night's attempted steal of home was a noble failure. At age 40, you don't try to steal home. I think Hunter's act will wear thin by the end of the year and he should then retire with grace.  

Mauer still isn't what he was. He strikes out too much and his habit of taking strikes right down the middle is getting tiresome, especially with his batting average in decline. When he was a superstar, commentators interpreted his fussiness as genius. No longer. 

Phil Hughes had a good year last year, but that doesn't mean he's the best pitcher of the bunch this year. Somebody else will likely become the ace. Gibson's sinker ball isn't good enough for him to get by with throwing it six inches too high. Trevor May has pitched better than his number show. 

So far, the Twins are a dud up the middle, an area I thought was a strength. Santana and Dozier aren't hitting. Neither is Suzuki, nor whatever short-little-white-guy-with a beard centerfielder they put out there. 

That brings up this whole matter of beards: It is time for them to go. Shave, you guys. HD TV is unforgiving. Casey Fein's attempt at a beard is particularly pitiful. The urban lumberjack trend needs to end.