Spring Training Storylines: Pitchers And Catchers
Image courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsWho leads the rotation?
Ervin Santana is out for the first month of the season. This will give an opportunity for other pitchers to step up and lead the rotation. Jose Berrios could be poised for a breakout season. He dominated at multiple levels in the minor leagues and he’s shown flashes of brilliance at the big league level. It seems like 2018 could be his coming out party and the Santana injury might allow him to take his rightful spot at the top of the rotation.
Even though the Twins missed out on Yu Darvish, the front office has a plan in place moving forward. Other free agents like Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn have been in regular contact with the Twins. The Star Tribune is reporting that Minnesota has offered a trade to Tampa Bay for former All-Star Chris Archer. This trade would likely revolve around Max Kepler and multiple prospects. Jake Odorizzi is another potential trade target from Tampa and his price tag would likely be lower than Archer's.
Who fills in while Santana is out?
If Minnesota adds one of the names listed above, there will still be parts of the rotation to sort out during spring training. The Twins will certainly be testing the mantra, “There’s no such thing as too much pitching.” There are likely three rotation locks, Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson and Adalberto Mejia. This leaves one spot open if the team adds another pitcher or two spots if they stay with the current roster.
There are a variety of players in contention for the rotation's final spot. Aaron Slegers, Dietrich Enns, Felix Jorge, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May and Phil Hughes could all see time in the rotation this year. Situations like options remaining and contracts likely factor into the team’s final roster construction.
Who winds up in the bullpen?
Much like the rotation, there are some locks for the bullpen. Fernando Rodney figures to get the bulk of the save opportunities. Addison Reed, Zach Duke and Trevor Hildenberger will get plenty of late inning opportunities. Some of the players that miss out on a rotation spot will also end up in the bullpen. May, Hughes and Duffey could all be candidates for a long-relief role. Other players in consideration will be Taylor Rogers, Ryan Pressly, Alan Busenitz, Tyler Kinley, John Curtiss, J.T. Chargois and Gabriel Moya.
If the pitching staff was being created today, here’s how I’d see things coming together.
Starting Rotation: Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Adalberto Mejia, Phil Hughes, Tyler Duffey
Bullpen: Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed, Zach Duke, Trevor Hildenberger, Taylor Rogers, Ryan Pressly, Alan Busenitz
Who earns the back-up catcher role?
Chris Gimenez took his talents to Chicago and might have had a role in luring Yu Darvish the Cubs. This means the Twins have an opening at the back-up catcher role. Mitch Garver posted a .928 OPS at Triple-A in 2018. In 110 Triple-A games, he has hit .298/.386/.520 with 18 home runs and 34 doubles. He seems ready to take over the back-up catcher role. If the Twins want him to be starting every day, he could end up back in Rochester. This could leave an opportunity for a player like Bobby Wilson to earn the back-up catcher position.
What storylines will you follow with pitchers and catchers this spring? Leave a comment and start the discussion.
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