Tonkin pitched 1.2 innings in Tuesday's victory over the Marlins, retiring each of the five batters he faced. Although his ERA has risen to 3.10 after being in the realm of 2.00 for the first month and a half of the 2016 campaign, Tonkin has made strides to improve his game, particularly in terms of pitch control. After walking seven batters in his first 12 innings of action, Tonkin has walked only two in the 17 innings that followed. His strikeout rate has also improved from 2015's mark of 19 percent to 28 percent.
Tonkin made a brief appearance in Wednesday's loss to Houston, retiring the single batter he faced with a mere two pitches The Twins have only played 28 games this season, but Tonkin has already pitched in more than half as many innings (14.1) as he did in the entire 2015 campaign (23.1). In those 14.1 innings, he has posted a 1.26 ERA and a 10.05 K/9, making him appear as a viable option for the Twins out of the bullpen. However, Tonkin has to put more control on his pitches, as his 1.19 WHIP has been inflated, courtesy of a BB/9 that is sitting at 4.40.
Tonkin has won a job in Minnesota's bullpen. He'll be used initially as the long reliever, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports. Tonkin would appear to be an odd choice for long reliever since he hasn't started a game since 2011. If he shows success in relief it likely won't be long before the Twins move another pitcher into the long reliever role.
Tonkin threw two scoreless innings in Tuesday's spring training win over Baltimore. He had given up seven runs in his first five innings this spring. Tonkin does have five strikeouts and no walks. He'll need a few more good outings this spring to win a bullpen role as it's not clear if he'll make the final 25-man roster.
As expected, Tommy Milone was activated from the disabled list and start Sunday's game for the Twins. Milone has been on the 15-day disabled list with an elbow sprain since the start of August. To make room on the roster, the Twins optioned Michael Tonkin to the minor leagues. Tonkin had a 6.17 ERA in 17 appearances.