Littell was optioned to Triple-A Rochester, Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com reports. Realistically, Littell had very little chance to break camp in the big-league rotation, so this comes as no surprise. He enters the year roughly seventh or eighth on the starting pitcher depth chart.
Littell allowed two runs on three hits and two walks across four innings in a no-decision Sunday against the White Sox. He struck out six. Littell ran into trouble in the first inning when he allowed two runs on two hits and a walk before escaping the jam. He was much more effective over the rest of his outing, allowing just two more baserunners, but he was removed with 70 pitches under his belt after the fourth. The majority of Littell's appearances this season came in the month of September, and his combined 6.20 ERA did little to inspire the club to give him a closer look. He'll become a free agent this winter and is a candidate to sign another minor-league deal for 2019.
Littell will start Sunday against the White Sox, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Littell has made one start for the Twins this season and appeared five other times out of the bullpen, posting a 7.04 ERA in 15.1 total innings. The 22-year-old turned in a much more palatable 3.57 ERA in 106 innings for Triple-A Rochester.
Littell, who had been used as the Twins' primary pitcher in his last appearance Sept. 2, won't be used in that capacity Sunday versus the Royals, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports. Littell still might work out of the bullpen in the series finale, but the Twins have at least temporarily abandoned using an opener for the sixth spot in the rotation, creating no need for a primary pitcher. Instead, Chase De Jong will make the start in his Twins debut and isn't expected to face any restrictions with his pitch count after logging 26 starts in the minors this season. With 10 runs (nine earned) allowed over 7.1 innings in the big leagues, Littell probably hasn't performed well yet enough to warrant handling a meaningful workload for Minnesota.
Littell will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester to be the Twins' "primary pitcher" Sunday against the Rangers, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports. Littell was expected to be Sunday's starter, but manager Paul Moliter will instead opt to utilize the opener strategy, with reliever Gabriel Moya earning the "start." The 22-year-old had a 3.57 ERA and 1.32 WHIP over 106 innings with Rochester this season.