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In case you haven't seen it, mlb.com has published an article on the prospects at instructional league camp and their progress.   ht...
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What does the Twins Playoff Rotation Look Like?

With MLB announcing their postseason schedule, questions surrounding Jake Odorizzi’s health, and the option of Randy Dobnak the Twins find themselves in a precarious spot 10 days before their first playoff game. Who should the Twins rely and how should they manage the condensed postseason schedule?
Image courtesy of © Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Typically in the postseason you see teams operate with a three to four-man rotation, but that won’t be the case in 2020 as MLB adds an extra six teams while still starting the World Series in mid-October. In the entire postseason, the only planned off days for teams in the midst of a series are between games 2/3 and 5/6 in the World Series. Other than that, teams only off days will be between series, which likely requires the use of a five man rotation throughout the postseason.

The news comes kind of late in the season as I’d think teams would have made some additional moves at the trade deadline to strengthen their bullpen and/or the back end of their rotation had they known that the postseason schedule provided little time for rest. Specifically the Twins, who haven’t had their rotation at 100% for the entire season, really find themselves in a pickle with Odorizzi going back on the IL and Dobnak struggling in three of his last four starts leading to being optioned off the active roster. Now we’re 10 days away from playoff baseball and we need to figure things out pretty quickly, so lets look at what their five-man rotation will look like.

#1 Kenta Maeda
Maeda is the obvious game one starter for the Wild Card match up. He’s not only been the Twins best pitcher this season, but he’s legitimately in the Cy Young conversation. No matter the opponent, you should have the confidence that Maeda can end the 16-game postseason losing streak.

#2 Michael Pineda
Michael Pineda has been lights out for the Twins dating back to last season. Say what you want about his suspension, and what that did to the team in 2020, he is the Twins second best pitcher. Prior to missing the 2018 season, you’d see Pineda sitting 93-95 with his fastball and, after his return, it took him until late May to really regain that velo. From his start on May 21st, 2019 to now Pineda has struck out more than a batter per inning while allowing just over one base runner per inning and boasting an ERA/FIP of 3.32/2.95.

#3 José Berríos
I know ranking him behind Pineda will rub some the wrong way. I know that he has a K/9 of 10.7 and ERA/FIP of 2.60/3.05 in his last five starts including facing the White Sox twice. But for me it takes more than five starts to erase what happened over the calendar prior to these five starts. From August 20th, 2019 to August 19th, 2020 Berrios had an ERA/FIP of 5.24/4.15 while having a poor walk rate of 3.5 BB/9. He’s shown flashes of ace level production throughout his career while also showing flashes of being a middle of the rotation guy. He might have better “stuff” than anyone on the staff but he’s far too inconsistent for my liking.

#4 Rich Hill
I considered Hill over Berrios but I figured I was suffering from recency bias after watching Rich Hill cruise through 7 innings against the Cubs. Though I did think about it again after I looked at his postseason resume, which features 12 starts including three in the World Series, where he’s allowed just 15 baserunners and three earned runs while striking out 19 over 15 innings pitched. In all, his postseason ERA/FIP is 3.06/3.97 and K/9 is 11.04 and experience matters in the postseason. I think I talked myself into Hill over Berrios but I don’t really want to receive hate mail so I’ll keep him at the number four slot.

#5 Jake Odorizzi / Randy Dobnak / Bullpen Game(s) / Homer Bailey
With so much unknown it’s really hard to know who the fifth guy should be, let alone who it’s going to be. The order that I listed them is the order in which I would trust them with a considerable gap between Odorizzi and the rest of the group. I noted my concerns with Dobnak earlier this year and I don’t know how we can trust Homer Bailey who has only pitched five innings in 2020...if he's even going to be an option. I wouldn’t rule out a some sort of combo game with Odorizzi and Dobnak or a short start from one of those two combined with a mini bullpen game. Depending on the situation, Rocco might need to get creative here.

It’s all about perspective and roles when you talk about starting pitchers, and although the Twins don’t have the big names (I know Maeda is currently making a name for himself), they arguably have the best one through four in all of baseball.

What do you think about Hill and Berrios? Am I going crazy or would you consider flip flopping them too? What about that number five spot? No matter who it is, they come with question marks. Which option would you trust most in that group?

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17 Comments

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strumdatjaguar
Sep 19 2020 12:11 PM
It depends on how the opposing line up hits lefties. If that line up has trouble with lefties boost Hill. Otherwise I’d also flip Berrios to #2.
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BeatTheRich
Sep 19 2020 12:44 PM

"I don’t really want to receive hate mail so I’ll keep him at the number four slot."

 

Maybe if this was Phillies Daily, but I think you're on solid ground here, Matthew. I'm with you pretty much the entire way, especially the idea of a combo Odo-Dobnak no. 5. I like Berrios when he's on his game, but I'd like a very short lease if he's my number 3. I'm also a little queasy about Hill, but there aren't (m)any no. 4 starters with a stronger playoff history.

 

I'd love for one of the middle starters to turn it on and become lights-out this postseason, but I'm not sure who the best candidate is. Maybe Jose starts to feel it? Could we see Dobnak turn it around again?

 

My biggest hope is that Maeda and Pineda keep doing what they've been doing of late. Two rocks heading into the postseason would be a treat we haven't had in a long time.

    • Matthew Lenz and GNess like this
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terrydactyls1947
Sep 19 2020 03:37 PM
I think that with the way the Yankees (the probable opponent) are hitting right now, our best chance will be with a rotation of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson, Greg Maddux, and Randy Johnson.
    • mikelink45, Matthew Lenz, Joey P and 1 other like this
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RochesterDave
Sep 19 2020 03:54 PM
I completely agree with your 1-2-3-4! It seems that many have preferred Berrios ahead of Pineda at #2, but Jose is too inconsistent and doesn’t have the necessary mental toughness. This is especially true if the Twins end up losing the #4 seed and ALL the games are in the Bronx!
    • Matthew Lenz likes this

And the Yankee rotation?GERRIT COLE - 1, TANAKA - 2, DEIVI GARCIA- 3 

how do they match up?eras 3.00, 3.27, 3.28.

 

Twins - Maeda, Pineda, Berrios.eras 2.52, 3.57, 4.15  

 

HRs per nine - Yankees - same order:1.8, 1.6, 1.5

Twins - same order: 1.2, 0.0, 1.0  

I like this.

 

Those are key comparisons - what does it mean when the world series is on the line?

 

    • Matthew Lenz and GNess like this
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IndianaTwin
Sep 19 2020 06:25 PM

It varies. For example, in the Wild Card Round, you only need three starters on Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday. I agree on Maeda and Pineda for the first two games. Because Game 3 (if necessary) is a decider, I’d lean toward Hill’s experience over Berrios, but would keep Berrios on the roster. Because of contrasting styles, he could be a good stack option following Hill, for example. In a three-game scenario, Odo and Dobnak may not make the roster. With the new rules, you probably don’t need the long guy for the possible 14-inning game.

 

If they win, they then have several days off to move the bubble, where they play five in a row. That doesn’t start until the following Monday, so they can go back to the top of the rotation with Maeda on five days of rest. In that case, I go Maeda-Pineda-Hill-Berrios-Odo. Rather than planning for Odo/Dobnak In Game 5, I’d hope that the first four starters go long enough to leave a reasonably rested bullpen. If you can get four innings from Odo, I’d go to the bullpen guys before Dobnak. 

 

Then if they win, they’re back to the traditional 2-3-2 format for the final two rounds, so you only need four starters. At this point, I’d assume you’re back to Maeda-Pineda-Berrios-Hill, though one might argue that Berrios is better suited to the bullpen as a contrast in style to either Hill or Odo. 

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Matthew Lenz
Sep 20 2020 01:13 PM

It varies. For example, in the Wild Card Round, you only need three starters on Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday. I agree on Maeda and Pineda for the first two games. Because Game 3 (if necessary) is a decider, I’d lean toward Hill’s experience over Berrios, but would keep Berrios on the roster. Because of contrasting styles, he could be a good stack option following Hill, for example. In a three-game scenario, Odo and Dobnak may not make the roster. With the new rules, you probably don’t need the long guy for the possible 14-inning game.


I’ve been thinking about this. I actually might lean the following:

Maeda for GM1

If win GM1: Berrios for GM2
If lose GM1: Pineda for GM2

If clinch series in GM2: Pineda GM1 of DS

If GM3: Pineda if he didn’t pitch GM2, otherwise Berrios.

I’ve been thinking about this. I actually might lean the following:Maeda for GM1If win GM1: Berrios for GM2If lose GM1: Pineda for GM2If clinch series in GM2: Pineda GM1 of DSIf GM3: Pineda if he didn’t pitch GM2, otherwise Berrios.


I just posted this in another thread too, but there are 3 days off between the first round and the division series (or 4 if you sweep the first round).

So Maeda could go game 1 of both series. With no off days in the division series, that could be important — your game 1 DS starter is the only one with a chance at 2 starts in the series if necessary (game 5 would be on short rest though).

I've said before that I'm more worried about our bullpen rather than our starters. I don't care which order the starters go but would NOT put Berrios in the number 3 position because that is the game for all the marbles if it goes that far. I guess if I were the manager, I'd go with Berrios first, Maeda second and Pineda third. However, in game one I wouldn't go too far with Berrios if he is off and bring in Rich Hill. I'm guessing that Odo will not be 100% so count on long relief from him as well which might not be so bad. However, we won't win unless the bullpen gets straight- especially whoever closes. 

There really something is to a complementary rotation...not letting a lineup get a good feel for similar SP.
Because of this:
Jose
Hill
Maeda
Pineda
Maeda, Pineda, and hope for a tornehdah.
Am I wrong, or is the rotation already set up?

off day today (Monday)

Maeda on regular rest tomorrow (Tuesday), to set him up to start game 1 of the playoffs next Tuesday

Hill on regular rest Wednesday, so he is fully rested for bullpen or substitute starter duty beginning with game 1 next Tuesday

day off Thursday

Pineda on Friday, to set him up to start game 2 next Wednesday

Berrios on Saturday, to set him up to start game 3 next Thursday

Odorizzi/Dobnak/Bailey can take care of the final regular season game next Sunday, vying for a pen assignment in round 1 and potential starting assignment in rounds 2+. Also any relievers who need a tune-up can pitch on Sunday too (day off the next day before the playoffs begin).

There really something is to a complementary rotation...not letting a lineup get a good feel for similar SP.
Because of this:
Jose
Hill
Maeda
Pineda

By every measure I rely on, Maeda has been our best and most consistent pitcher. To risk losing a best-of-3 series without having your best pitcher appear, seems like the proverbial "bold strategy" that I would not adopt.
 

    • USAFChief likes this

By every measure I rely on, Maeda has been our best and most consistent pitcher. To risk losing a best-of-3 series without having your best pitcher appear, seems like the proverbial "bold strategy" that I would not adopt.

That's definitely a fair take. I'm looking at it as...We at least split the first 2 games, then have Maeda in the decider. If Hill struggles early, and we are down 0-1, Maeda is ready to go.

That's definitely a fair take. I'm looking at it as...We at least split the first 2 games, then have Maeda in the decider. If Hill struggles early, and we are down 0-1, Maeda is ready to go.

I could at least appreciate the logic of having your best pitcher start Game 2: "if we win Game 1, then he's there to go for the throat; if we lose Game 2 then he's there to stop the damage."

 

But this still feels like over-thinking it. If you hope to go deep into the post-season, whoever pitches Game 1 is best rested to pitch more frequently than whoever goes next. That's Maeda, so out there he goes, for the first pitch of the post-season.

 

Try to fire each of your best weapons as often as possible. Your lesser weapons can be tactical; your best should be strategic.
 

 

I could at least appreciate the logic of having your best pitcher start Game 2: "if we win Game 1, then he's there to go for the throat; if we lose Game 2 then he's there to stop the damage."

 

But this still feels like over-thinking it. If you hope to go deep into the post-season, whoever pitches Game 1 is best rested to pitch more frequently than whoever goes next. That's Maeda, so out there he goes, for the first pitch of the post-season.

 

Try to fire each of your best weapons as often as possible. Your lesser weapons can be tactical; your best should be strategic.
 

I guess for me, you could flip a coin for Berrios/Maeda to start game 1. What I was ultimately getting at in my original post was that those 2 and Hill will be more effective if Hill is sandwiched in between. If any team is going to go far in the playoffs, they are going to need good starting pitching from everyone, and good pitching overall. 

I could at least appreciate the logic of having your best pitcher start Game 2: "if we win Game 1, then he's there to go for the throat; if we lose Game 2 then he's there to stop the damage."
 

I meant also Game 1 as the alternate scenario.