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Article: Twins Position Battles: Backup Catcher

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:09 AM
While much of the Twins 25-man roster might be pretty well set, there are a few position battles of note. As spring training rolls along,...
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Park

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:09 AM
He's played in 3 of the 4 games so far and has blasted 2 Park Bangs and a slew of hits. Sure seems like the Twins are giving him every op...
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Game Thread: Twins vs. Marlins ST G4 2/27/17 12:00 PM CT

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:09 AM
No radio or TV coverage today....    RiverBrian will be happy to see that today is "Positional Flexibility Day" MARLINS Perez...
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Article: TD 2017 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects Recap

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 11:07 PM
Over the last two weeks, Twins Daily unveiled its choices for the Top 20 prospects in the Twins system. Today, we'll review that list and...
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Minnesota Wild Thread

Minnesota Wild Talk Yesterday, 10:56 PM
Best in the West!  We need a thread to talk about these guys!   I'm really, really impressed with this team.  12 good forw...
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Nolasco Presents a Big Problem

Beyond this season, the Minnesota Twins still owe Ricky Nolasco a total of $37 million over three years. That's something that needs to be kept in mind as we ponder what the best course of action is for the struggling starter.

Ron Gardenhire sounded like he was just about ready to be done with Nolasco during a cranky post-game interview on Sunday, and it's hard to blame him.

"It starts with him," Gardenhire said. "He's got to do a better job. Bottom line is he's got to figure out something because today wasn't any good at all. He didn’t do anything. He didn't locate anything. They were all over every pitch."


Not exactly what you like to hear regarding a pitcher who was signed to be the stable leading force in the rotation, and paid accordingly, but Gardenhire's frustration is well warranted and the stats speak for themselves.

Among qualified major-league pitchers, Nolasco's 5.90 ERA is the worst and nobody else is even close -- Justin Masterson is next at 5.16. Nolasco also ranks last in WHIP (1.62) and opponents' OPS (.902).

I've been pretty bullish on the big righty, in part because I might be in denial -- I've liked him as a pitcher and was a fan of the signing -- and in part because there is some evidence that his horrendous results have been a little fluky.

After all, he's not walking bunches of people, and his swing-and-miss percentage isn't far out of line with his career mark. Entering Sunday's game, he was averaging 6.4 K/9; over the past three seasons, he averaged 6.6.

The difference now is that opponents are absolutely plastering Nolasco's pitches when they make contact and as the clunkers pile up it gets harder and harder to chalk that up to bad luck. On Sunday, he looked as ineffective as he's looked all year, failing to strike out a single batter while allowing eight of the 13 men he faced to reach base. It wasn't even a competitive outing, reminiscent of a Vance Worley performance in late March.

Attached Image: nolascohomer.jpg

Photo by Dan Hamilton, USA TODAY Sports


Yes, American League lineups are better than those in the NL. But that doesn't come close to explaining the magnitude of Nolasco's struggles. What is going on, and how can it be fixed?

No doubt the Twins' coaches and execs are racking their brains trying to find an answer. Options are somewhat limited when you're in Year One of a lucrative four-year contract. Gardenhire hinted at a possible demotion to the bullpen and Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press noted that the club could choose to push back Nolasco's next start back until after the All-Star break, saving him from having to pitch at Coors Field and giving him extra time to straighten things out.

Those are as good ideas as any, I suppose. You can't really cut him or send him to the minors, and you can't very well keep sending him out there when he's going like this. But there's also this problem: the Twins lack viable replacements for Nolasco at the moment.

Trevor May is out with an injury; Alex Meyer has been extremely inconsistent and also hasn't thrown more than 90 pitches in a game since early May. Neither is MLB-ready.

I suppose the Twins could go with someone like Kris Johnson or Logan Darnell, but they've already got Yohan Pino plugged in and when you're looking at multiple Triple-A non-prospects filling the big-league rotation, you start to feel a nauseating sense of deja vu.

Is this the last three years all over again? When is it going to change?

The Twins went out and spent big on free agent pitching during the offseason, and yet they still can't seem to escape the same old outcome: eroded depth and a totally inadequate starting staff.


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