Molitor: Twins have plan for fifth starter

Gibson, Tepesch, Mejia are three candidates to join rotation Saturday

Molitor: Twins have plan for fifth starter

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have essentially decided on who will be their fifth starter in their rotation, but manager Paul Molitor said Tuesday they're not quite ready to reveal who will start Saturday against the Royals.

With the weather looking iffy for Wednesday's game against the Rockies, which could lead to a Thursday doubleheader, Molitor said it's too early to announce who will join the rotation. The candidates are Kyle Gibson, Nick Tepesch and Adalberto Mejia. Gibson was considered the potential frontrunner, but Mejia was removed after only three innings and 33 pitches with Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday, indicating he could return to start on short rest on Saturday.

"We are still a little bit in flux with rotation questions," Molitor said. "I know who it might be, but I think there's no need to put it out there until we make it final because there are still things up in the air, such as potential rainouts and doubleheaders."

With several off-days and rainouts at their disposal, the Twins have juggled a four-man rotation in recent weeks with Jose Berrios becoming the latest fourth starter, making his season debut with a strong outing against the Indians on Saturday.

Berrios' dominant outing

Mejia and Gibson both opened the regular season in the rotation, only to be optioned on April 22 and May 4, respectively. Tepesch made one spot start on May 6 and was sent to Triple-A on Saturday to make room for Berrios. So with fewer than 10 days in the Minors, Tepesch could only rejoin the Twins to replace a player landing on the disabled list, making him an unlikely candidate.

Mejia's chances were seemingly hurt after being away from Rochester to attend the birth of his child. But after throwing three scoreless frames on Tuesday, he could be called upon to start on Saturday. If not, Gibson is the most logical candidate to be recalled if the weather holds up and Minnesota needs a starter against the Royals. Gibson has a 2.92 ERA in two starts with Rochester, while Mejia has posted a 3.48 ERA in four outings at Triple-A.

Molitor said he'd like to see some consistency at the backend of the rotation, noting it's worked out so far, as the Twins entered Tuesday in first place in the American League Central.

"It would be nice to get into a little bit of a rhythm that way," Molitor said. "But it hasn't hurt us a ton that we haven't had a set five to this point. But if we can get there and feel like from top to bottom we're in good shape, it would be a settling thing."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.