Bullpen handles heavy workload vs. Tigers

DETROIT -- Before Monday's series opener against the Tigers, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire raved about his starters' ability to battle through games and credited them as a big reason for the team's good start.

The bullpen has been right there with them, posting a 2.30 ERA on the year entering Wednesday.

In the first two games against the Tigers, neither starter made it out of the sixth inning, but the bullpen put together six combined scoreless innings. Over the last six games, the bullpen has a 1.53 ERA.

But while the bullpen's performance has been encouraging, Gardenhire knows much of that success going forward hinges on the starters lowering their workload.

"If we want to keep it that way, our starters are going to have go deep," Gardenhire said. "You can't pitch three and four innings out of the bullpen and expect things to go rosy for you.

"You saw on the other side, Jim [Leyland] was talking about how his bullpen is beaten up a little bit. That happens, and that's why you need your starters getting into the second half of games. You can't expect to go three, four innings out of the bullpen very long before you're in trouble. But our bullpen is throwing great."

Chris Vannini is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.