I guess he's not the worst thing to happen to this rotation after all. There, I said it.
Last week against Oakland was good, but tonight against Minnesota...that was extraordinary. Understand that when I say "extraordinary" I mean it a little differently for RRS than I would for Felix - the definition is pretty dynamic as your level of expectations changes with the pitcher. But for a guy with a known back-of-the-rotation skillset, what RRS did to a decent Minnesota lineup was impressive and by a fair margin the best start of his young and (hopefully) blossoming career.
As usual, his effectiveness is plainly evident in the numbers. (In fact, this is always the case; you just have to be sure you're looking at the right ones.) He threw 107 pitches and showed no signs of any lingering effects from last week's challenge. His fastball stayed up in the 88-91 range, touching 91 in his final inning and averaging 89.2. He registered 11 swinging strikes - ten against righties - and only threw 34 balls. He got more grounders than fly balls. He only allowed one line drive. And so on and so forth. Even the pitch that Randy Ruiz hit for an opposite field home run was actually a good 0-1 fastball an inch off the plate outside. If RRS made a mistake tonight, the Twins didn't make him pay for it. And we're talking about a lineup that only featured three lefties (albeit three pretty good ones).
All in all, that's a good start for a #1. For a pitcher just trying to crack the ass end of the rotation, it's terrific. I'm thrilled to see RRS stretching out and making progress to the point at which he actually looks like a legitimately good starting pitcher for innings at a time. Obviously it's important for us to temper our expectations since he does have a reasonably low ceiling, but the fact that he may very well cut it as a starter is big news. This is why it's so important for us to ditch Jarrod Washburn. This is why it's stupid to hand out free money to schlubs like Carlos Silva. Because there are always guys like RRS* just waiting for their chance, and when they succeed, you end up with a lot of productivity for a little money for a long time. And that's the sort of thing that affords you the flexibility to, I dunno, help turn a bad team into a good one overnight. Hypothetically.
(* note: there are no guys like RRS. There is but one RRS, and he is neat.)