When last we looked closely at Minnesota Twins rookie Trevor May, he was working through some early season troubles. He had some rough moments in April and May but has been quite effective since. Although he switched to relief work in July he had pitched well as a starter in the weeks before that move. In 83 innings in the rotation he posted a 3.36 FIP. In 30 relief innings he's at 3.08. Overall in 113 innings he has a 107/25 K/BB with a 4.06 ERA but a FIP of 3.29, coming in at 2.2 fWAR.
Outstanding season? No. Solid enough to make him a key part of Minnesota's future plans? Certainly.
Ah, yes, but in what role? Aaron Gleeman asked this a couple of weeks ago, noting that May actually performed pretty well as a starter, certainly enough to hold his job under normal conditions, but was moved to the bullpen in favor of "proven veterans" due to a logjam in the rotation when Ervin Santana came off the suspension list. When the Twins needed a starter in August, Tyler Duffey got the shot and made the most of it, holding his spot thus far.
Gleeman fears that this logjam will continue long enough for May to get stuck in the bullpen permanently.
To move that type of arm from a 200-inning role to a 65-inning role at age 25 seems impulsive, especially for an organization that has long struggled to develop starters beyond pitch-to-contact, back-of-the-rotation filler. Building a quality bullpen is much easier than building a quality rotation for many reasons, one of which is that failed starters are regularly converted into successful relievers whereas the opposite rarely happens. Hopefully the Twins leave the door open for May to rejoin the rotation next year, but based on his strong performance as a reliever and their multi-year commitments to expensive veteran starters my guess is that we've seen him start his last game.
I quite agree with Aaron on this: it makes more sense to use May as a starter and it would seem like a waste to keep him in the pen.
That said, I feel like an optimist today and will make an Unsubstantiated Prediction: two of Minnesota's starters will get hurt in spring training next year, Trevor May will begin the 2016 season in the rotation, and he'll take a tremendous step forward, being one of the best pitchers in the American League in the first half of the season, making the All-Star Team, finishing with a 17-9 record in 32 starts (he'll get good run support), with 209 innings pitched. His ERA will creep up over the second half and finish at 3.34, but his FIP will remain below 3.00, his overall WAR value will be well over 4.00 and he'll stabilize as an above-average 200+ inning arm for the next decade.
Is this Unsubstantiated Prediction realistic? Crazy? Or Crazily Realistic?
You be the judge, but use it as an excuse to discuss Trevor May.