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  • Winter Additions Mean Crowded Rotation

    The Twins had one of the worst starting rotations in all baseball last year. In order to remedy the problem, the team has done its best to be aggressive in the open market, recently adding Mike Pelfrey via a two-year $11 million deal. This is the third free agent starter the Twins have added this season as the team has already agreed to terms with Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. With Kevin Corriea under contract for another year, Minnesota's starting rotation is filling up rather quickly.

    Minnesota has a handful of players under team control for next season and they have to be wondering what happened. Scott Diamond, Sam Deduno, Kyle Gibson, and Vance Worley were all part of the rotation at different points last season and it's looking more likely that a few of these players won't be with the organization when the team leaves Fort Myers.

    Scott Diamond, LHP
    After a rookie campaign where Diamond was the best starter for the Twins, his sophomore season was a slump. He walked more batters in fewer innings and struggled to keep the ball in the park. He looked better in his time at Rochester but he is out of minor league options. This could mean the Twins will have to try sneaking him through waivers and there is a chance another club would be interested in his services.

    Sam Deduno, RHP
    Deduno surprised a lot of people in his first year, 2012, with the Twins as he tended to give up walks and hits but he found a way to get out of some jams. His second season with the Twins was even better as he lowered his ERA by half a run per game and his WHIP dropped from 1.54 to 1.35 over close to 30 more innings than in his freshman campaign. Like Diamond, Deduno is out of options but it seems Deduno has the inside track for the fifth starter spot.

    Kyle Gibson, RHP
    There were high hopes for Gibson entering the season. The former first round pick had looked good in the preceding year's Arizona Fall League and the club was hoping he would make an impact during his rookie season. Gibson struggled throughout his rookie campaign. He still has options remaining so it's looking to be a lock for him to start the year in Rochester. His performance there will dictate when the Twins bring him back to the big leagues.

    Alex Meyer, RHP
    Considered by many the top rated pitching prospect in the Twins organization, Meyer will be knocking on the door to the majors next season. He pitched all last season at Double-A and he finished his year with a strong showing in the AFL. There is no need to rush him at this point but it could be hard to find a rotation spot for him unless a rash of injuries hits the guys in front of him. He has options left so the Twins will likely send him to Rochester for the start of the year.

    Vance Worley, RHP
    Last season's opening day starter struggled through his first season in a Twins uniform. His WHIP was almost 2.00 and his 7.21 ERA was tough to swallow. When Minnesota traded Ben Revere, Worley was supposed to add some depth to a struggling pitching staff. A year later it is looking more like Worley might not be part of the organization. He's out of options and the Twins will likely put some of the names on this list ahead of him for the fifth starter spot.

    Put yourself in Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire's shoes. Who gets the fifth starter spot? Is the player currently on the roster? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Rotation Starting To Look Crowded started by Cody Christie
    Comments 34 Comments
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Pretty crowded indeed, a better problem to have than last spring.

      Gibson has AAA options that others don't, but if he pitches well in spring and wins a job, Ryan needs to let him join the club, instead of optioning him down to Rochester because of some administrative benefit. I also wouldn't be surprised to see a trade this spring if multiple guys pitch well.
    1. DocBauer's Avatar
      DocBauer -
      Even with being heavily overworked last season, the Twins had one of the best bullpens in baseball last season. And with a deeper and higher quality rotation this year, the pen could/should perform even better this year. Even a staus quo, no improvement a all, it would still be a major strength and one of the best in MLB.

      There appears to be a battle between Pressly and Tonkin for the final RH spot, and I suppose Worley could be a candidate as well, and some other supporting members rising through the ranks. I believe Thielbar is the real deal and will continue to perform well. There is the possibility of some regression, of course, and relievers numbers and performance can be skewed somewhat year to year when even small bad streaks can inflate numbers of even a solid performer. But Thielbar could actually improve with experience/knowledge and continue to be solid to very good. Diamond, Johnson, Ibarra and even Gilmartin potentially provide depth and options from the LH side.

      Despite what has been said about Deunsing and Swarzak getting a shot to start, I don't believe it will/should play out that way for a couple of reasons.

      1) The depth of starters to enter ST/the season with three hurlers set to fight it out and prove themselves with no options remaining. Yes Deduno could start on the DL and rehab, and no Diamond and Worley are nothing proven. However, knock those two down all you want, when a pitcher has had proven success in MLB, even on a limited basis such as Diamond and Worley have, there is ever chance that healthy, and the fresh slate of another season starting, that they can and will do it again.

      Worley had about a season and a half of quality pitching for the Philies before running in to injury. Diamond was solid to very good in 2012 before injury. Either or oth could be ready and raring to go this spring. And argue all you want about Deduno and long-term viability, but there were flashes in 2012 and he was the absolute best and most exciting SP we had in 2013 until injury.

      2) Why would you weaken a strength of your club in an attempt to shore up another area when you have other real options?

      Yes, it is probably easier to replace a long reliever and a LH reliever than finding a capable starter. But again, with other viable options, why would you mess with a good and proven thing?

      Ive seen the best and worst in Deunsing and Swarzak. Swarzak was once a top SP prospect, and even shown flashes. So has Deunsing. I've followed Deunsing since he was pitching here for the Cornhuskers; excellent starter before TJ, excellent in the Len, then a song man, before helping as a starter again. Once again, each has shown flashes. And honestly, especially last season, when one examines the work and maturity of Swarzak, it's hard to say he doesn't deserve a shot, and might have matured enough now to take over a spot.

      But again, when you have viable options at your disposal, why mess with a good thing? As stated and agreed, it's easier to find a good reliever than a quality starter, but yet, talk to Detroit and a few other teams about building a quality bullpen. It's not as easy as just plugging someone in and telling them to be excellent.

      I really have a hard time with people being so flippant to trade away relievers in one of MLB best bullpens with the idea that the previously mentioned players (depth and potential) can just be automatically plugged in with the same results.

      How valuable a durable has Swarzak been for the Twins the past couple of seasons? And how many teams struggle to find ONE decent LHRP and we should very well have TWO?

      Dont mess with what you have until someone not only knocks on the door, but seems poised to kick it in.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      You lost me with this:

      Quote Originally Posted by DocBauer View Post
      the Twins had one of the best bullpens in baseball last season.
      The above is a suburban legend.

      Here is how the Twins' pen ranked in 2013:

      17th out of 30 MLB teams as far as ERA goes
      17th out of 30 MLB teams as far as FIP goes
      17th out of 30 MLB teams as far as SIERA goes
      8th out of 30 MLB teams as far as WHIP goes
      19th out of 30 MLB teams as far as K% goes

      Pretty much in the middle or middle low half. Not "one of the best" by any means. The Twins' pen still needs work. It was better than the rotation, but that does not say much. It was mediocre...
    1. zchrz's Avatar
      zchrz -
      The pen is pretty solid and will continue to be if they shuffle some pieces. Perkins/ Burton/ Fien is a nice top 3, and Theilbar seems a good loogy, that leaves 2 MR spots and a LR. Tonkin is knocking on the door for one of those and should earn it out of spring training but he, like the top 4, is a 1 inning guy. The last 2 spots go to the starters that don't make the rotation, Presley, Duensing, Swarzak, ect.
    1. DocBauer's Avatar
      DocBauer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      You lost me with this:



      The above is a suburban legend.

      Here is how the Twins' pen ranked in 2013:

      17th out of 30 MLB teams as far as ERA goes
      17th out of 30 MLB teams as far as FIP goes
      17th out of 30 MLB teams as far as SIERA goes
      8th out of 30 MLB teams as far as WHIP goes
      19th out of 30 MLB teams as far as K% goes

      Pretty much in the middle or middle low half. Not "one of the best" by any means. The Twins' pen still needs work. It was better than the rotation, but that does not say much. It was mediocre...
      I appreciate and respect your arguments. And we can debate at length all metrics anyone wishes to look at. But I will simply offer a few points.

      In all of baseball our ERA was middle of the pack. But in appearances we ranked tied for first with Atlanta and Colorado, a pair of NL clubs. First in the AL. We ranked 5th in the AL, which I believe has a plus of about half a run if memory serves. We also ranked first in the AL in IP and actually had a winning record of 27-22 for a team that won only 66 games. BA was .240 against AL average of .242. SO's were 508 against the mean of 472. Walks were 185 to 191.

      MLB ranks were 460-187 SO to BB.

      We also had 40 saves vs the mean of 42.

      All in all, for a team with an overworked bullpen, and a team that only won 66 games, I feel I'd stand by my statement we had one of the best bullpens in the AL, and one of the better units in all of baseball.
    1. twinsfaninsaudi's Avatar
      twinsfaninsaudi -
      To me Worley and his repetoire have bullpen written all over 'em.
    1. ND-Fan's Avatar
      ND-Fan -
      I think Nolasco, Hughes, Pelfry, Correia , are locks for opening season unless injury should pop up during spring ball. I am betting that Dudeno is not healthy and wouldn't be surprised he ends up on disabled list. My bet is that Diamond starts the season as 5 starter being he's left handed. Worley may be kept if Dudeno is hurt or they choose put him with relievers and my bet he would be traded shortly to make room for Dudeno. If Diamond has trouble I wouldn't be surprised he's moved to bull pen and possible trade happens with him or Duensing making room for Dudeno. As for Gibson and Myer my guess is they will be brought up if there's injury to one of the starters or later in the year when they could trade Correia making room for them. I think Twins are going to keep Gibson and Myer service time down if all possible to maintain player control for future years. I am betting Twins look at Albers for relief position because he's left handed and could fill role with his control and they have control of him for several more years. The Twins are going into this spring in much better shape.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      "The Twins had one of the worst starting rotations in all baseball last year. In order to remedy the problem, the team has done its best to be aggressive in the open market, recently adding Mike Pelfrey via a two-year $11 million deal."

      While I understand that Pelfrey was a free agent signing, I really can't see how he can be considered as part of the attempt to remedy the problem, as he was part of the problem of last year's rotation. If anything, he continues to contribute to the problem. I also heartily agree with Thrylos, and that the bullpen was middle of the pack. The stats back it up, for sure. Mediocre does not become one of the best in MLB, just because it is one of the best parts of a horrible 2013 team.
    1. oldguy10's Avatar
      oldguy10 -
      I am solidly behind Thrylos on the bullpen, mediocre at best. How about inherited runners being allowed to score - I doubt that the Twins rank high there.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      I am not sure how the bullpen stacked up last year. I would think the poor starting rotation led to a higher ratio of innings by the less talented relievers skewing any team data. Teams with starting pitching going late in games would have a greater ratio of innings pitched by their better relievers. Conclusions can't be drawn by looking at team date without doing something to balance the ratio of innings pitched by the better relievers.

      It doesn't really matter anyway. Last year is gone and using those number to project next year's numbers in a pen isn't very reliable. There is reason to be concerned after Perkins. Burton had a drop off last year. Fien hasn't done it long enough to reliably count on him repeating. The guys in the rest of the bullpen probably could not make the roster on a team with a pen like Kansas City.

      Fortunately, the depth of the starting pitching will flow into the pen. Swarzak will be pushed by Worley, Deduno and hopefully Correia. Duensing and Thielbar by Diamond. The pitching staff will be better next year.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      I think it's between Diamond and Duensing for the last starting spot. IMO the Twins will not open the season with five right-handed starters.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave T View Post
      I think it's between Diamond and Duensing for the last starting spot. IMO the Twins will not open the season with five right-handed starters.
      It's possible but it's a mistake. The Twins need to put their five best starters in the rotation, not their four best righties and their best lefty.
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      If both Deduno and Worley have a good spring, I would look to deal Correia. He might have some value. Gibson can go to AAA, and we can only hope Diamond gets claimed.
    1. DocBauer's Avatar
      DocBauer -
      Oh to dream!

      Gibson ready to take no prisoners and a healthy Deduno pitching like he did last year healthy, granting us the ability to trade Correia and move forward. (I'd even be happy if it took a month or so for all of that to transpire)

      And somebody keeping a seat warm until Myer is ready.

      And it's not even far-fetched as a possibility!
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