Jump to content

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

The Forums

Verlander

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:36 AM
Per Spotrac:   Justin Verlander signed a 2 year / $66,000,000 contract with the Houston Astros, including $66,000,000 guaranteed, an...
Full topic ›

MLB.com Top 30 Twins Prospects

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 12:05 AM
MLB redesigned their prospect ranking pages and released the Twins top 30 today. 
Full topic ›

Zack Littell on Throwing Multiple Sliders

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:07 PM
https://blogs.fangra...is-two-sliders/ Interesting piece over at FanGraphs where Zack Littell discusses the two different sliders he used...
Full topic ›

Thorpe leaving camp for a spell

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 07:28 PM
  "To who this may concern! I’ve left camp for a week or 2 for personal matters. I’m healthy and excited for this year. I’ll be bac...
Full topic ›

YouTube TV Drops Fox Sports Regional Networks

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 07:16 PM
Does MLB and its TV affiliates (mostly Fox Sports channels) realize how idiotic they are being by not being available to be watched on ma...
Full topic ›

Recent Blogs


Trusting Internal Starting Pitching Options

With free agents flying off the board, the Twins' front office could be left searching for other options, like trading for another starting pitcher. Minnesota has some depth in the farm system to make a deal, but if other clubs aren’t willing to trade, the Twins could be left to trust internal starting pitching options.
Image courtesy of © Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Randy Dobnak
Minnesota trusted Dobnak enough to start a playoff game at Yankee Stadium so he already might in line to get a starting rotation spot. Last week, Matthew Trueblood wrote that Dobnak might be better than people think. He pitched 58 big league innings last year and posted a 3.88 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP. It would be nice to see Dobnak more in the fifth starter role than higher in the rotation. Obviously, Michael Pineda’s suspension will play a role in that decision at the beginning of the year and it should give Dobnak the opportunity to prove he belongs in the rotation.

Devin Smeltzer
Smeltzer is another intriguing option after he compiled a 3.86 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP in 11 appearances (49 IP). He had an interesting start to his career as he only allowed seven earned runs in his first 27 2/3 innings and opponents were held to a .651 OPS. What was more remarkable was the fact that his fastball averaged under 90 mph, but his off-speed pitches kept batters off-balance. His final six games saw his ERA rise to nearly 6.00 as the team used him more out of the bullpen. Smeltzer seems like a player that could be coming back-and-forth between Rochester and Minneapolis.

Lewis Thorpe
Thorpe was once one of the team’s top prospects and he won the team’s 2018 Minor League Pitcher of the Year award. Thorpe made all but two of his appearances out of the bullpen since Taylor Rogers was the team’s lone left-handed relief pitcher. Over the last two seasons at Triple-A, Thorpe has amassed a 4.73 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP and an 11.1 SO/9. Those numbers could fit in the back half of a starting rotation if he can translate that to the big leagues. It seems likely for Thorpe to get more opportunities to be a starter with the Twins in 2020, but will he have to prove himself in Rochester first?

Brusdar Graterol
Graterol was an exciting call-up at season’s end last year and the Twins used him entirely out of the bullpen. The plan will most definitely be for him to return to the rotation to start 2020 and this could be with Rochester. As a 20-year old, he dominated in Pensacola last season although he only made 12 appearances with the Blue Wahoos. He was limited to four Triple-A relief appearances, so the club will likely want him to build up some innings at that level. He has never pitched more than 102 innings in a season, so this year will be critical for him to stay healthy and get stretched out.

Likely all the names above will have some impact on the 2020 Twins. Out of this group, who do you trust the most to be in the rotation for the majority of the season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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

  • Dman and MN_ExPat like this

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

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

70 Comments

We still need 1 more veteran starter. If we were rebuilding it would be different but since we are not we can afford 1 spot in the rotation for a rookie. We already have another open spot for 6 weeks or 5 or so starts. Let's get that 1 more starter whether it be Ryu, Keuchel, or even Terehen. And I will happily trust the 5th starter spot to a rookie.
    • alphanumeric, DocBauer, tarheeltwinsfan and 2 others like this

***sigh********deep breath********exhale**** ***slow shaking of head*******move to type an opinion***** *****realize it doesn't really matter at this point which one they choose********sign off****

    • alphanumeric, adorduan, KGB and 8 others like this

Thorpe has to step up, has MLB stuff but needs to refine his control.not sure what to think about Dobnak he doesn't pass the eye test of sustainability to me, but did it long enough late last summer to get another opportunity. 

Smeltzer is a AAAA pitcher there have been tons of these guys come through the twins organization over the past few decades. If he can't figure it out in the bullpen he is a 6th or 7th starter if a few guys go down.

 

Graterol has to be the guy we finally develop into a top of the rotation starter.He isn't there yet and may need till mid June to get there or even longer.

 

    • glunn, Danchat, mikelink45 and 5 others like this

It could be any of them.It probably depends on how much they improve their stuff over the winter.If I had to choose I guess I would put my money on Dobnak. I think he is the most ready of the bunch.My next pick would be Thorpe as he is a lefty with a decent fastball.Unfortunately that fastball has been a little too hittable IMO. 

 

Graterol could top all them if he stays healthy and has a good spring.I guess I just don't trust that he will stay healthy and that the Twins will use him to start the year.

 

Last would be Smeltzer but if he can improve the fastball a bit he could be as good as as Thorpe or Dobnack.I really think it could be any one of them or all of them that shine next year depending on if they can improve on what they did last year.

    • glunn, mikelink45 and DocBauer like this

 

***sigh********deep breath********exhale**** ***slow shaking of head*******move to type an opinion***** *****realize it doesn't really matter at this point which one they choose********sign off****

Moderator note (and this is to everyone despite my quote of one poster):

 

I know some of us are frustrated, disappointed, among other things ... but please let's discuss the topic at hand and not use every thread to express general frustration, disappointment and other things. If a topic doesn't interest you, we have many, many others available for your input.

 

Blogs are great places for open expression ... just sayin' ... it's a good place to write out your thoughts. And TD has some great blogs. Yours could be among them.

 

Thank you.

    • ashbury, glunn, Mike Frasier Law and 12 others like this

I wonder if Thorpe might take a step forward in 2020. I'm unsure whether Smeltzer and Dobnak have the stuff to make it in the big leagues, and Thorpe has the best stuff out of the three of them. At this point, I'm holding out hope he can become a solid #4 starter. I certainly wouldn't lock him into that role at the beginning of the year, but I'd like to see if he sticks by the end of the year.

    • glunn, pbrezeasap, Sconnie and 3 others like this
Photo
FormerMinnasotan
Dec 18 2019 11:20 PM
I’m going to take the unpopular stance, but I feel that Graterol will only be a disappointment if we see him as our “soon to be anointed” ace. Issue 1 is durability...the most innings he’s ever pitched is 102...and last year had a substantial enough injury to have him out for a considerable amount of time last year, only to re-emerge as a relief pitcher. Issue 2 is his “stuff”. Yes he has a huge fastball and can throw it so effortlessly, yet his slider isn’t the pure strike out pitch it should be to this point and IF he’s going to make it as a starter he’s got to improve his change up tremendously as right now his change is as good as Fernando Romero’s change.

Don’t get me wrong I’d LOVE to see Graterol prove me wrong and be a Gerrit Cole like ace for the Twins, but right now I just only see a failed starter turned bullpen arm.
    • adorduan and jkcarew like this
My prediction, for what it is worth, is that Thorpe and Gaterol are relievers long term. Dobnak will go back and forth to AAA for a few years as a starter.
    • glunn, Twins33, Vanimal46 and 3 others like this

I would love to have Ryu so that we can fill two spots for the first month with our internal guys.I'm not just ok with one of the above guys filling a spot, I actually want it.Spring training isn't where you should be making decisions who will be on the Opening Day roster though there is some wiggle room for guys that come in and do great or for those that appear to have sit on the couch all winter, though I really don't see that happening with these guys.To me, Dobnak and Graterol have earned a spot based on having really, really good seasons in the minor s last year.Does Graterol really have stuff he needs to work on or is he just going to go down to the minors and dominate for 5 innings at a time to no purpose. If people are really afraid of him getting injured then get him in the majors as soon as possible to avoid wasting bullets. At some point internal options such as Radke, Mays. Lohse, Milton, Santana, Liriano, Garza, Slowey, Blackburn, and Baker were given chances and became average or better major league pitchers.Gibson and Berrios are the anomalies because they are the only two starters developed by the Twins this decade. However, that stretch should also be considered an anomaly because a team should be able to produce much better than that on average. I have faith that Dobnak and Graterol can be those guys.A little less faith in Thorpe being ready and a little less still in Smeltzer. I would really like to get Ryu because I also don't have a whole lot of faith in any of the other pitchers available to be better than oour internal options.

    • Dman likes this
I think the Twins plan to make Graterol a reliever. If his arm stays healthy he could be a good one.

Dobnak, Smeltzer & Thorpe, I think, are all depth guys. Pitchers you call up when one of your starters is hurt or suspended. Not the kind of pitchers who should be a good team's "Plan A". The Twins will roll with Dobnak out of the gate because he was effective most recently, but I think Smeltzer is at least marginally better.
    • bighat likes this
Photo
Richard Swerdlick
Dec 19 2019 06:06 AM
Smeltzer looks to me like the 2nd coming of Tommy Milone. Graterol has the most upside and may be ready by midsummer. Thorpe looks mediocre to me as a starter. Waiting to see what kind of a season Jordan B has as he may be our best starting prospect in the minors.
    • mikelink45, Dman and jud6312 like this

I am afraid this WILL be what we are looking at!My guess would be Dobnak and Smeltzer to start while Pineda is out.Best of the two stays ....when Pineda comes back.

    • jud6312 likes this

"Out of this group, who do you trust the most to be in the rotation for the majority of the season?"

 

The answer is Zero, None, Nada, Zilch. Only one of them has proven that he is even worth consideration for the 5th starting pitcher and that is Dodnak.I think Smeltzer and Thorpe should definitely be given a chance to prove they belong in the majors, but in no way being handed a starting spot. I am not sure what to think of Graterol he obviously has the best stuff, but hasn't really ever pitched enough innings in a season to say, hey lets give the 20/21 year old 30 starts in the majors.

    • adjacent, Sconnie, adorduan and 2 others like this

 

"Out of this group, who do you trust the most to be in the rotation for the majority of the season?"

 

The answer is Zero, None, Nada, Zilch.  

Concur.

 

And there is virtually zero chance Graterol is in the rotation for the entire year. He doesn't have the innings under his belt. I guess he could start out in the pen, and then maybe transition to the rotation by mid summer. 

    • Sconnie, SF Twins Fan, jud6312 and 2 others like this
Would love to see another proven veteran, or even a reclamation project signed. Dobnak, Smeltzer and Thorpe are a step above Martin Perez's season!

Is anyone gonna be surprised when Thorpe, Dobnak, and Smeltzer are competing with one or two veteran journeyman for the final 3 spots in the opening day rotation?

 

I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see this front office bringing in one better arm, much less two, to make it a 3-4 horse race for one spot.

 

There are so many pitching-starved teams that anyone who *might* be available via trade is going to have an astronomical asking price, and probably isn't going to be that great.

 

The chance was to sign a FA or two. That didn't happen, so all of these guys are going to have to step up if the Twins plan to make any noise in '20.

I have wondered about Zack Little being stretched out and considered as a rotation option.  He pitched well as a reliever this year, but had significant success in his minor league career as a starter!  He is only 24, and in my view may be the best internal option for the 2020 starting rotation?  Phil

    • USNMCPO likes this

Don't know who or how he will be obtained, but I expect the Twins will bring in one good starting pitcher.Whether he is someone at the same level as our big three or more like that kid from Miami who is young with a year or two experience but not quite there yet...don't know.

 

That leaves the #5 spot and those early starts from Pineda to fill.See them filling those with the winner of the spring training sweepstakes from the four candidates you listed.The second place guy will get Pineda's starts.My best guess is that Graterol gets the #5 spot and one of the other three fills in for Pineda.

 

I see them dealing with Graterol's innings concern by bringing him in after a two inning opener...Littell maybe?He then averages 4+ innings a game for 125-135 innings for the year.The other three will fill in for big Mike and then be rotated into the bullpen as the eighth (long) reliever throughout the year like last year.

 

Any of the other three could develop a very good long-term career.Which one, your guess is as good as any.There is also a good possibility that one of these three or four could be part of that trade and long-gone by spring training.

    • Sconnie and DocBauer like this
This is not a plan for a team that is serious about winning in the playoffs. They have a couple more years with Buxton Sano and Berrios so I would hope they do something
    • ashbury, USAFChief, adorduan and 2 others like this

I think Graterol starts in AAA (both begins and pitches as a starter).At some point they will have to decide whether to keep him there as a starter or to promote him and use him as a reliever for this year. In either case, I hope they are still thinking he could be a starter the following year, if his stuff and durability allows.

 

Thorpe...I don't know what to think.He seems to have a chance to be a major league pitcher either way, and I'm always reluctant to give up on a starter, but he could stay in the bullpen for the year.

 

Dobnak- agreed, not a bad choice as a fifth starter, and he could improve.

 

Smeltzer- begins in AAA, will definitely be up (and probably down) during the year.

    • Tomj14 likes this

 

This is not a plan for a team that is serious about winning in the playoffs. They have a couple more years with Buxton Sano and Berrios so I would hope they do something

Which version is not a plan?I think even if we add a better pitcher, and I certainly hope we do, we're going to need these guys at some level for part of the season, especially with Pineda out.A team that's serious about winning in the playoffs needs a strong bullpen more than they need a strong fifith starter.

    • SQUIRREL, Danchat, Sconnie and 2 others like this

Which version is not a plan? I think even if we add a better pitcher, and I certainly hope we do, we're going to need these guys at some level for part of the season, especially with Pineda out. A team that's serious about winning in the playoffs needs a strong bullpen more than they need a strong fifith starter.


Going into the season with two open spots for the rookies. With the exception of Graterol the most likely outcome for the rest of those guys is AAAA shuttle back and forth guys
    • USAFChief, big dog and Tomj14 like this
Photo
Mike Frasier Law
Dec 19 2019 09:42 AM

 

Concur.

 

And there is virtually zero chance Graterol is in the rotation for the entire year. He doesn't have the innings under his belt. I guess he could start out in the pen, and then maybe transition to the rotation by mid summer. 

Agreed that Graterol won't pitch in the rotation all year, but I'd like to see the reverse - have him start in the rotation and move him to the bullpen when his innings exceed 120 or so.

    • Danchat and wabene like this

 

Randy Dobnak
Minnesota trusted Dobnak enough to start a playoff game at Yankee Stadium so he already might in line to get a starting rotation spot.

 

In my opinion... This is the most important article written thus far in the off season on Twinsdaily. 

 

I'll start by saying that Minnesota clearly did not trust Dobnak to start a playoff game... They were left with no option but to start Dobnak in a playoff game because of Perez Performance, Gibson Sickness and Pineda Suspension.

 

Because they didn't trust Dobnak in a playoff game, they were forced to hold back key members of the bullpen in Game 1 to plan for needing key members in Game 2 because they didn't anticipate Dobnak giving us multiple innnings. This led to the usage of Stashak in game 1 after Berrios didn't throw enough innings and Littell got nervous. So they threw Stashak in a close playoff game because they had Dobnak in game two. And they threw Stashak after not trusting Stashak in high leverage situations during the regular season. This all happened because they minimized the use of Dobnak and Smeltzer and placed all hope in Perez turning it around and this did not happen. Not to mention, they had to be aware of Gibson's E Coli issues.  

 

I started talking about all of this last June. The 5 man rotation was doing fine as of June and our posters were primarily focused on the bullpen when talking about trade deadline needs.

 

I felt back in June, that the bullpen need would become much much worse, if we had to depend on the bullpen more. And we would need to depend on that bullpen more if anything happened to anyone in the rotation. And anything happening to anyone in the rotation was almost sure to happen because nobody goes through the season with a healthy 5. So I stated that... yes we need bullpen help at the deadline but our number one need is going to be a starter because as of June... we were relying on our starters to carry the bulk of the water. 

 

Not only did we need to identify or trade for a 6th (or 7th or 8th) starter for 2019 success. Any longer range planning into 2020 would be a neon sign that we would have to make some off-season acquisitions since 3 of our starters were pending FA's. So this made the acquisition of a starter with at least an extra year of control... extremely important. 

 

At the trade deadline, when no starter was acquired, Perez was already in a funk. His ERA had soared over 5 and the possibility of Perez being a poor choice for a playoff roster was an absolute possibility at the end of July based on his performance, along with the possibility that I mentioned in June, of any of the other 4 pitchers getting hurt (or suspended). 

 

So once the deadline passed without any acquisitions... They committed themselves to finding depth from their own system. Who is the better MAJOR LEAGUE Pitcher? Dobnak? Smeltzer? Graterol? Thorpe? Who is it? I don't know but they needed to find out but they remained committed to the starting 5 including Perez who was clearly struggling. And just to be clear... the front office doesn't have this down to a science. No front office does. If they had it down. Nick Anderson would be in a Twins uniform today and Martin Perez would have been on the playoff roster. The only way you find out if they can help you in the playoffs... is by handing them the ball. Once the trade deadline passed... Smeltzer or Dobnak should have been placed immediately into the rotation, taking the place of Perez. 

 

I was worried that they would reach the playoffs with Perez still being Perez and any of the other 4 or two of the other 4 getting hurt in September and this will force the Twins to simply toss a guy with minimal MLB innings into an important playoff role... and... this is exactly what happened. 

 

So for 2020... here is what they need to do. 

 

1. Decide if you are going to go with a traditional 5 man rotation or use the Rays model (Which I'm fine with). 

 

2. If they go with the traditional 5 man rotation. Dobnak, Smeltzer, Graterol and Thorpe are DEPTH. Get two more starters. They can choose one of the 4 to show what they can do in April while Pineda sits out his suspension but under no circumstances can they justify any thought of trusting Dobnak, Smeltzer, Graterol or Thorpe after going out of their way to not trust them last season. All any of them had to do last season was pitch better than the 5 plus ERA that Perez was providing and the organization did not elevate any of them above Perez until the final second of choosing a playoff roster. Nothing will have changed in the off-season to just hand the keys to a pitcher that they wouldn't hand the keys to in August of last year with a playoff breeze coming through the window. You can't say... we didn't trust them in August or the playoffs really but now we trust them to get an opening day roster spot so we don't have to acquire someone better. Especially with a team that has realistic playoff considerations going into the season. 

 

3. If they go with the Rays Model... OK... but get serious about the bullpen. Don't plug and play here... You better be on Betances and others because you've just gone from needing 8 bullpen arms to needing 10 or 11. 

 

4. The front office and manager will show you who they trust by how they utilize them. They have no trust in any of the 4 players listed above based on how they were utilized last year. 

 

5. Start these guys in Rochester... let them compete for next man up. When the next man is called up... Utilize them... if they fail... go to the next guy but they need to be in constant search for depth. 

 

6. Never ever... ever.... ever. Let a guy like Martin Perez with a 5 plus ERA keep his job just like you should never... ever... ever... let a guy like Logan Morrison hitting under .200 keep his job. 

 

7. Not only did the Twins need to know who they trusted in the playoffs but they needed to know who to keep and who to let go in the off-season and they needed to know how many free agent signings or trade acquisitions they would need for the rotation during the off-season. This is all information that could have been gathered by letting Dobnak show that he was indeed without question better than the 5 plus ERA that Perez provided. More innings were necessary to gather more information... Perez was not good enough... we had the need, we avoided it and went with Perez... this was a simple enough move last year. If Dobnak or Smeltzer or Thorpe were to fail... They would have that information for the playoffs and off-season roster setting. They already knew that Perez was failing. We lose nothing replacing a failing starter for a failing prospect, we gain everything identifying an OK or good prospect over a failing vet. 

 

8. The offense had depth last year and they had depth because they played that depth to find who was depth. They need to take the same approach with the pitching. 

 

9. Go get some pitching. THE BREEZE... FEEL IT. 

 

This article is extremely important in my eyes.  

 

 

    • USAFChief, diehardtwinsfan, LA VIkes Fan and 8 others like this

"Graterol was an exciting call-up at season’s end last year and the Twins used him entirely out of the bullpen. The plan will most definitely be for him to return to the rotation to start 2020."

 

Huh? Most definitely? This sounds like news, and as such, you should probably name your source.

 

Relying on these possibilities is both a legitimate plan and not a legitimate plan. A legitimate plan (arguably) for winning a weak division. And not legitimate in any way for winning in the AL playoffs.

 

 


Similar Articles


by Nick Nelson , 19 Feb 2020
Photo


by Cody Christie , 18 Feb 2020
Photo


by Cody Christie , 16 Feb 2020
Photo


by Cody Christie , 13 Feb 2020
Photo


by Tom Froemming , 11 Feb 2020
Photo