Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

2020 MINOR LEAGUE SEASON

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 04:03 PM
Baseball America takes a look at what is happening in the minors, a season that would now have been a couple of weeks old.   https:/...
Full topic ›

Virtual Twins Baseball Megathread

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:03 PM
Moving forward this will house every game-thread in the comments below until real baseball hopefully comes back. I should have done this...
Full topic ›

Zulgad: Is MLB really making return about dollars and cents?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:18 PM
https://www.skornort...lars-and-cents/   The owners have made their proposal to the players. The players association will now have t...
Full topic ›

Recent Proposal

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:29 AM
https://theathletic....=freedailyemail   The players have rejected the owners last proposal, the players have proposed a longer seas...
Full topic ›

Too Far From Town: Elizabethton Twins

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 08:04 PM
This seems to be a free article in the Baseball Prospectus series on minor league teams in danger of elimination.   https://www.base...
Full topic ›

Recent Blogs


Do the Twins Have Enough Rotation Depth?

It’s the year 2018. The Twins are coming off a great, exciting season, reaching the playoffs for the first time in seven years. They increased the hype by making great signings during the offseason and spring training. Things didn’t work out, though.

If anything is not going to work all that well this year, would the Twins be prepared to handle it?
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily
First of all, I think it’s important to state that I don’t think things are going to head the wrong way. This already good team only became stronger and is, in theory, bound to have another positive year. But maybe it’s important to imagine what alternative routes a team can take when facing unexpected adversities.

Injuries are almost one-hundred percent impossible to foresee. So, there’s nothing a club and a player can do to completely avoid them. But, yeah, they’re the biggest risk for any team (ask the Yankees right now). Even last year, such a successful one for Minnesota, a number of key-players spent time sidelined, like Byron Buxton, Nelson Cruz, Mitch Garver, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sanó, to name a few. But due to the impossibility of predicting injuries, let’s talk about things that could go wrong productivity-wise – like in 2018.

The Twins rotation looks stable, with the returns of Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda, as well as with the signings of Rich Hill and Homer Bailey and the trade for Kenta Maeda. At the same time, most people logically consider it the potential Achilles heel of this group. That’s why we chose to focus on it in this article. Here are some things that could get in the way of starting pitching success for the Twins:
  • José Berríos is definitely the Twins best starter. But last year he did show some signs for concern. Patrick Wozniak wrote about the problems he’s encountered as of late, including the decrease in his velocity and late-season struggles.
  • Although Hill represents a potentially huge upside, especially for October baseball, there’s very little evidence that his health will not be an obstacle for that. By the time of his signing, a lot of people even wondered if he would be able to pitch at all, given his age and injury track record.
  • Bailey has had a really rough last five and a half years in the majors. He’s dealt with several health issues, which ended up leading to to surgeries, including a Tommy John Surgery in 2015. Ever since, he’s never been the same good pitcher he was before 2013. In the four seasons before last year he had pitched 231 2/3 innings, with a 6.25 ERA and a 5.13 FIP. How he could represent an improvement over what the Twins got from Martín Pérez or Kyle Gibson last year is still uncertain.
  • Maeda’s career splits between home and away games is considerable. His ERA as a starter goes from 3.16 pitching at Dodger Stadium to 4.70 away from it. He also displayed increases in his FIP (3.46 to 4.06) and OPS (.634 to .718) splits. Moving from the seventh most pitcher-friendly ballpark in baseball to the thirteenth in the same category (not to mention the colder weather) may cause him some trouble.
I can’t stress this enough: I do not think most of these are happening. This is just a hypothetical worst-case scenario, just so people won’t be blindsided because of all the optimism generated by the good offseason, like I was in the beginning of 2018. Speaking of which, I ask the most important question: what is the difference between now and then? Is there an effective way the Twins could avoid that same outcome this year?

In my opinion, yes. Should elements of this very unlikely catastrophe take place, the Twins this year have a much greater rotation depth than two years ago. Randy Dobnak is a prime candidate to have a good year, especially because of the early absences of both Pineda and Hill. Besides him, Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe and Sean Poppen are also in pursuit of their big break and have shown good signs last year.

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

  • nclahammer and Doctor Gast like this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

25 Comments

I don't necessarily agree that Berrios is definitely the best starter. I liked some of the break I have seen on his curve ball this spring and think he could be the best starter but last year I had more faith in Odorizzi to give us a good start. The plus with Berrios was he could go longer but that means less with a bullpen of guys with sub 3.5 ERAs.Maybe it still pushes him slightly ahead but not in the definite territory in my book.I hope he changes my mind this year.

    • Thrylos, JoshDungan1, Wizard11 and 1 other like this

I am fairly confident in the rotation depth for the regular season. The Twins have enough starter options to rack up a lot of wins even if some of the pieces don't work out. A more relevant question is do the Twins have the rotation quality to compete against the top teams in a playoff series.

    • birdwatcher, adorduan, Platoon and 1 other like this

One concern I have is the fact that Thorpe is still missing.This was his biggest opportunity and he is gone.I do not know the personal reasons, but both he and the team are losing out.I am also concerned about Romero missing out on a key opportunity for the BP.  

 

ST will continue to be interesting and SP will continue to be the big story.

Photo
Richard Swerdlick
Mar 02 2020 04:34 AM

I know it was only a Spring Training start, but Chacin did not exactly inspire confidence.

Photo
theBOMisthebomb
Mar 02 2020 06:17 AM
At least the Twins have some legitimate options if things go off script with the starting staff. If memory serves, the cupboard was rather bare for rotation depth in 2018. Having Pineda and Hill waiting in the wings provides at least some peace of mind.
    • Mike Frasier Law likes this
Photo
VivaBomboRivera!
Mar 02 2020 07:01 AM
Too much of anything isn't good for you, except pitching, and then too much is barely enough!

- W.C. Fields
    • Tibs, Sconnie, JoshDungan1 and 2 others like this
They should be able to find 5 guys out of all their choices. My biggest concern is they ride the veteran guy even though he is not performing.
    • Twins33, Riverbrian, tarheeltwinsfan and 1 other like this
Photo
howieramone2
Mar 02 2020 08:05 AM
Including Thorpe we have 10. Our farm system is intact, so we can deal for the hot hand at the deadline.
    • birdwatcher, Cap'n Piranha and tarheeltwinsfan like this
Photo
Doctor Gast
Mar 02 2020 08:05 AM

Very interesting article but I disagree that last year was a inferior rotation. When the BP were pitching over their heads the rotation were able to pitch fantastic but when Blake folded, the BP folded which the rotation had to pitch extended innings. Pineda & Odorizzi were kept on limited innings so they fared better. But Gibson & Perez were not when the desperately needed to be so their #s took a nose dive through out the 2nd half. All because we didn`t have the pitching depth to plug in young arm which were ready. 

 

Too much of anything isn't good for you, except pitching, and then too much is barely enough!

- W.C. Fields

This year we should have plenty of depth. The rotation should have plenty of rest. But I share your concerns. Hill has the stuff if his treatment is successful. Those who think that Maeda will transform into an impact pitcher that`ll pitch constantly 7 innings are delusional, besides all he`ll need to adapt to in coming here. I don`t have much faith in Bailey or Chasin

Just read that Thorpe is back in camp .. This may be the best depth the Twins have ever had ...

Photo
tarheeltwinsfan
Mar 02 2020 10:08 AM

I have confidence that the 2019 and 2020 Twins have something special going on as a team. There are up to date training and data retrieval systems in place. There are encouraging signs that the coaches are able to help players achieve improvement. The veterans are also teachers, as well as innovators themselves.Plus I do not ever recall so many Twins' players being interviewed, saying that the goal is to win the World Series. That generates positive energy, when all individuals are working together for a common team goal. When one player is injured, I fully expect another to step up and take the injured player's place.

    • wabene likes this

 

I don't necessarily agree that Berrios is definitely the best starter. I liked some of the break I have seen on his curve ball this spring and think he could be the best starter but last year I had more faith in Odorizzi to give us a good start. The plus with Berrios was he could go longer but that means less with a bullpen of guys with sub 3.5 ERAs.Maybe it still pushes him slightly ahead but not in the definite territory in my book.I hope he changes my mind this year.

 

Berrios is clearly the best starter, and the most valuable player on the team maybe.Odorizzi had a career year last year and he still couldn't get through 6 innings.PECOTA projects him almost a full run worse in ERA this year.

 

Pineda is closer to being better than Berrios than Odo.

I feel much better about our rotation depth this year than last year. there are still question marks, but that's normal for most teams and there are enough options that if some of them bust we have other avenues to try. I feel like the FO has done a good job in making sure the floor should be high. If Dobnak, Smeltzer, and/or Thorpe see significant time this year it doesn't feel like one of those "Oh, God!" moments. (If all three of them are in the rotation at the end of the season...then we almost certainly got hit by a bad rash of injuries and that's just the way it goes sometimes)

 

 

Photo
Twins_Fan_For_Life
Mar 02 2020 01:05 PM
I think one thing that makes this pitching staff so scary is not necessarily how good or deep the rotation is, but how good and deep the bullpen is. The starters won't have to go seven innings.
Photo
LA VIkes Fan
Mar 02 2020 01:08 PM

The Rotation floor is high. The question is how low is the ceiling? Where we lack SP depth is in guys who are/should be good enough to start a Playoff game and give us 5-6 innings of 3 runs or less ball. that's the minimum standard in my mind. We start out with as many as 4 probables/more likely possibles in Berrios, Odorizzi, Pineda and Maeda, and a bunch of wild cards. Is that going to be enough with injuries, regressions, ineffectiveness, etc.?Maaaaybee.  

In addition to the depth of our rotation, which I think the majority of fans agree is in a good spot (or at least that it is better than it has been recently), the reasonable expectation of the quality of our starters is significantly higher than it was at this point last year.

 

For our returning three:

  • Pineda going into 2020 has higher expectations than going into 2019, when we was coming off a lost year due to injury.
  • Odorizzi going into 2019 our ~#4 starter last year. Whereas now, he is coming off of an all star season.
  • Berrios is another year older. Personally, I am more confident in a 25 (soon to be 26) Berrios than I was in a 24 year old Berrios.

http://www.startribu...hart/507648272/

 

I think Maeda > Gibson (who was our #2 starter going into last year).

 

I also think that the expectation of the winner of or combination of Chacin/Smeltzer/Thorpe/Dobnak will be higher than it was for Perez going into 2019, where he was coming off a season in which the Rangers demoted him into the bullpen.

 

(not to mention the possible contributions by Hill)

 

I wouldn't by any means call the rotation dominant, but our rotation was #9 in baseball last year (according to ERA). I think that it could plausibly be even higher this year.

I am fairly confident in the rotation depth for the regular season. The Twins have enough starter options to rack up a lot of wins even if some of the pieces don't work out. A more relevant question is do the Twins have the rotation quality to compete against the top teams in a playoff series.


This is pretty much where I’m at. Their rotation looks solid, but I expect they’ll add someone (hopefully significant) at the trade deadline.

They have a lot of depth for sure.Like they can put bodies there if someone is hurt or unavailable. Not sure whether their top 2 starters can win games 1,2,5,6 in a post-season against other contenders' starters.

 

Here are the Twins' starters career MLB ERAs against opponents with a winning record:

 

Dobnak 2.77 (sample size = 5)
Pineda 4.10
Odorizzi 4.14
Chacin 4.21
Hill 4.31
Smeltzer 4.40 (sample size = 6)
Maeda 4.41
Berrios 5.17
Bailey 5.27
Thorpe 8.44 (sample size = 4)

 

Not.A.Pretty.Picture.

 

Berrios melts down against good teams.Your 3 best bets have 4.10 ERA in those circumstances. 

There are the ERAs against teams with records better than .500 of some of the pitchers they Twins will be facing in the post-season

 

Kershaw 2.41
Cole 2.90
Stripling 3.23
Buehler 3.24
Scherzer 3.33
Strasburg 3.50
Greinke 3.65
Verlander 3.72
Corbin 3.80
Paxton 3.87

 

Other than injuries or miracles, the Twins' rotation does not look competitive in the post-season.That's why they need to get one or two pitchers in the deadline who can compete with other teams' 1s and 2s...

 

 

 

Photo
howieramone2
Mar 02 2020 06:38 PM
We can win the World Series and not face half those guys. What is their post-season ERA's?

 

 

 Is there an effective way the Twins could avoid that same outcome this year?

 

 

Injuries are not the concern. Injuries happen every year (every month) to every team.  

 

Injuries will not bring a team down. Just look at the Yankees last year. Just look at the Twins last year. 

 

Poor play is what brings a team down.

 

Allowing players to play like Logan Morrison and allowing that poor play to play every day is what brings a team down. 

 

When it comes to the rotation... Allowing Bailey or Chacin to pitch like Martin Perez pitched last year while keeping their rotation spot is what will kill the team. Bad play kills the team... not injuries. 

 

The Twins have starting depth... if they use it. Let the depth compete for starts. Let the best man win. It's that simple. 

    • DocBauer likes this
Do they have enough depth?

Absolutely!

I don't even think it's debatable when you look at the past 5-10 years plus. It's almost a perfect blend of proven talent vs potential. Young veterans and older veterans and prospects. It wouldn't be hard to argue the Twins have better depth than most teams. Are there questions? Absolutely. But questions abound for virtually every team.

I am NOT debating the Twins having a Verlander heading the rotation. And that's not what the OP is about. They have a pair of young and young-ish SP all stars, a couple of really nice veterans behind them, a couple of very interesting fliers, a potential half season stud flier in the wings, and a few interesting prospects ready to make a mark, after showing some real potential in 2019.

Forgive me, but there is POTENTIALLY, a logjam come July. Berrios, Oddo, Maeda, Pineda, Bailey, Thorpe, Dobnak, (not even any sort of bounce back by Chacin), and then Hill is ready to go for a half season.

Is it guaranteed to work out this way? Nope. Could it? Yes. But We're a long way from that point. But the depth of options is absolutely there to begin the season.
    • Riverbrian likes this
Photo
VivaBomboRivera!
Mar 03 2020 03:45 AM

Too much of anything isn't good for you, except pitching, and then too much is barely enough!
- W.C. Fields


Apologies, of course that was Mark Twain. It was Fields who said, "Always carry thirteen pitchers on your roster in case of snakebite, and furthermore always carry a small snake."
    • Riverbrian, 70charger, Sconnie and 1 other like this
Worst case, we have 4 #3 SP and a handful of #4/5 type SPs. Best case, we see Maeda dominate in the AL, Berrios take that next step, Odo continues his rise towards his walk year, Pineda from last summer returns, Wes Johnson helps Bailey improve on his second half numbers, Hill is healthy for the final 3 months and a rookie or 2 dominates during their opportunities. We can seen aces evolve and come out of nowhere. I have faith in these arms, Wes Johnson and our depth.
    • DocBauer likes this
Photo
howieramone2
Mar 03 2020 08:41 AM
From your mouth to his ears.
Photo
Cap'n Piranha
Mar 03 2020 11:34 AM

"Quantity has a quality all its own"

 

-Napoleon Bonaparte

    • Riverbrian and DocBauer like this

Similar Articles


by Nick Nelson , 20 May 2020
Photo


by Cody Christie , 10 Apr 2020
Photo


by Ted Schwerzler , 07 Apr 2020
Photo


by Nick Nelson , 31 Mar 2020
Photo


by Ted Schwerzler , 26 Mar 2020
Photo