Bailey does 'heck of a job' in return from IL

September 23rd, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- hasn't been a factor for Minnesota for nearly two months after he went on the injured list with right biceps tendinitis. The Twins don't have much time to see the veteran right-hander before the playoffs begin.

They liked what they saw on Tuesday night.

Bailey was activated from the 45-day injured list and threw three perfect innings during Tuesday's 5-4, 10-inning win over the Tigers before running into trouble in the fourth, when he was tagged for one run on two hits. He left with the bases loaded and none out but cleaned things up with help from a rare 6-2-5 double play and kept Bailey's line relatively clean.

"I don't really know if I had any expectations going into it other than get through the first inning," Bailey said. "I knew I was going to be on kind of a short leash just because we had a lot of guys who did need to throw. I just kind of went a pitch at a time and obviously there in the fourth got into a little bit of a jam, although outside of hitting that batter, I made some really good pitches and just didn't find the fortune there."

Though Bailey initially hesitated to let it loose, with his fastball only topping out at 86 mph in the first inning, he quickly regained his velocity up to 94.5 mph by the end of his 53-pitch outing. He retired the first nine batters he faced but hit Victor Reyes to open the fourth, allowed singles to Willi Castro and Miguel Cabrera and walked Jeimer Candelario on a 10-pitch at-bat to finish his outing.

"Homer went out there and did a heck of a job," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "After not pitching for this amount of time, he settled back in quickly. He threw strikes, got a few swings and misses, but really forced the action on the Tigers and made them swing the bats."

The Twins maintained throughout Bailey's absence that he would pitch again in 2020, and he remains a candidate for the postseason roster.

"We're going to need -- especially in this year's playoff situation -- a number of guys, especially as we move forward in the playoffs and you have the possibility of playing in these five or seven-game series with no days off," Baldelli said. "You're going to certainly need depth. You're going to need guys that can give you quality innings, and Homer is definitely a guy that can do that for us."

The 34-year-old's only other start of the season came on July 28, when he held the Cardinals to two runs on four hits across five innings, striking out four.

was optioned to the alternate training site in a corresponding move.

Minnesota already has more starters than could fit in a playoff rotation, and Bailey's activation further crowds the picture. and appear likely to line up for starts in the American League Wild Card Series. , and the injured have also pitched well in their recent appearances. was one of the Twins' most effective pitchers for much of the season before his recent struggles.

With all that in mind, Bailey remains a bit of an unknown commodity as he prepares for one -- and maybe two -- starts to finish out the season. It's tough to imagine him jumping Hill or Pineda in consideration for the playoff rotation, but the only relief appearance of Bailey's career came back in Game 3 of the 2010 National League Division Series against the Phillies.

What's next in the regular season? In October? Bailey doesn't quite know yet.

"Whatever we do from here is up to Rocco and the powers that be," Bailey said. "I'm here to support this team in any way or fashion that I can."

Bailey's start on Tuesday could line him up to start Sunday's regular-season finale against the Reds on regular rest. Odorizzi is also eligible for activation from the IL that day. It appears likely that the starter of that game could be left off the active roster for the three-game Wild Card Series, but the Twins could need more starters if they advance to the five-game, five-day AL Division Series.

Baldelli said Tuesday that Odorizzi's recovery from a blister on his right middle finger has proceeded well, and indicated it would be "more likely than not" that Odorizzi will be on the Wild Card Series roster.