ANAHEIM -- After losing 12 out of 14 games, the Twins have bounced back to win five straight, and they enter Wednesday only a half-game back of the Indians in the American League Central.The Twins will face a tough test this weekend with a four-game series against the Angels that
ANAHEIM -- After losing 12 out of 14 games, the Twins have bounced back to win five straight, and they enter Wednesday only a half-game back of the Indians in the American League Central.
The Twins will face a tough test this weekend with a four-game series against the Angels that begins Thursday, but they could get some help with Byron Buxton possibly returning from the 10-day disabled list for the series opener.
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It's been a roller coaster of a season for Minnesota through 32 games, which brings plenty of questions for this week's Twins Inbox.
The Twins have clearly missed Buxton, who hasn't played since April 12, as he was originally placed on the DL with migraines suffered in Puerto Rico after their previous three games were snowed out. In a stroke of bad luck, he suffered a hairline fracture to his left big toe in his lone rehab game with Class A Advanced Fort Myers on April 23.
Despite the long layoff, it appears Buxton will avoid a rehab assignment, as he means so much to Minnesota -- especially defensively -- and the club wants him back as soon as possible. But it is fair to wonder how he'll fare offensively with the long layoff, although he's been tracking pitches in the cages throughout his rehab and has been taking batting practice for the past week or so.
Buxton was hitting .195/.233/.244 in 11 games before going on the DL, and it might take some time to readjust to seeing Major League pitching. But there's no doubt his defense makes a huge difference for the Twins, and it's hard to fault them for wanting to get him in there once he's healthy enough to play.
Fernando Romero has seemed to provide a spark for the Twins since getting called up, as he's been lights out, throwing 11 2/3 scoreless innings with 14 strikeouts in wins over the Blue Jays and Cardinals. The last starting pitcher to open with that many scoreless innings and punchouts through two career starts was Kaz Ishii with the Dodgers in 2002, according to Jayson Stark.
It's been an incredible start for Romero, who is ranked as Minnesota's No. 2 prospect and No. 65 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline. As for why he wasn't called up sooner, he has had to continue to improve his command -- he has walked six in two starts -- and he hadn't reached Triple-A Rochester before this season. The decision had nothing to do with service time, as Romero also walked 10 in 21 innings with Rochester in 2018. But it's clear he has the stuff to be a front-line starter and if he can keep it up, he'll be a huge boost to the rotation.
Lefty Stephen Gonsalves, the club's No. 3 prospect behind Romero, has also been impressive this year in the Minors, going 5-0 with a 1.30 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Gonsalves appears big league ready, but the issue right now is there isn't an opening in the Twins' rotation. But he adds depth for Minnesota, who loves his upside as a lefty who can generate strikeouts with his plus-changeup and strong command.
The Twins have more help on the way, as right-handers Ervin Santana and Trevor May should both be ready to return by the first week of June. Santana is coming back from surgery in February to remove calcium deposits from his right middle finger, and his return date won't be affected by his placement on the 60-day disabled list this week.
The big question is who Santana will replace in the rotation, but that decision is still far away. Right-hander Lance Lynn is the one who's scuffled the most, but he still has time to get back on track.
May, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery he underwent in March 2017, is continuing to get stretched out as a starter, but there might not be room for him in the rotation. The Twins could keep him at Triple-A for depth or decide to move him into relief to help the bullpen. Either way, it'll be another welcome addition for Minnesota, which is starting to get its pitching in order after a rough stretch.
Since meeting Nicolas Cage in Puerto Rico on April 18, Eduardo Escobar is hitting .338/.407/.701 with six homers, 10 doubles and 13 RBIs in 19 games.
The chance meeting has revitalized Escobar's season, so if Cage wants a similar boost to his great acting career, it might be worth teaming up with the shortstop.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.