Supplementing The Twins: A Rotation Trio
Image courtesy of © Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY SportsIn looking at the final three pitching names, a certain level of brevity will be used. Given that both Lynn and Chatwood seem to be a bit better fit on the surface, the following trio would be nice complementary pieces to one of the top two options. Without any further explanation though, let’s get into it.
He turned 30 years old on October 7, and has exactly 700 big league innings under his belt. Through 115 starts, he owns a career 3.50 ERA and has compiled a 7.3K/9 to go with a 2.6 BB/9. Cobb missed the 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery, and made just five starts in 2016. This season however, he posted a serviceable 3.66 ERA and 4.16 FIP in his first “healthy” year since 2014.
At one time, having looked like another darling of the Rays staff, Cobb is now well past the 2.82 ERA he posted across 49 starts in 2013-14. After making $4.2 million last season, he’ll enter free agency for the first time. With the opportunity to sign his first lengthy deal, the Twins could land a more-than-capable guy for the rotation.
Throughout his career, Cobb has a relatively pedestrian strikeout rate. That said, he limits walks and has induced ground balls over 50% of the time. Home run rates have been in check, and this past season was really the first time he’s served up more than 1.0 HR/9. Working in the low 90’s, he’s a pitcher who works for his outs, and the sinker/curveball combination is one he utilizes often.
I don’t know if Cobb can get back to his early career success. Injuries have taken place, and age is against him. That said, the floor is pretty safe here, and the ceiling may be ripe for the picking.
After pitching the first six seasons of his big league career in Colorado, Jhoulys Chacin bounced around the big leagues a bit. With stops in Arizona, Atlanta, Los Angeles (AL), and San Diego, he’ll be joining his fifth team in the past four years.
Over the course of 32 starts for the Padres in 2017, Chacin owned a 3.89 ERA with a 4.26 FIP and a 7.6 K/9 with a 3.6 BB/9. Those numbers, especially playing half your games at Petco, don’t make you jump up and down. Command jumps out as an issue, and in a pitcher’s park you’d like to see a better FIP number.
Looking for positives, Chacin made just $1.75 million last season, and should be able to be had relatively cheaply. He’ll also be only 30 years old, and likely has plenty of juice left in the tank. Although he doesn’t generate quite as many groundballs as Cobb, Chacin also tends to give up fewer home runs.
In 2017, Chacin was mainly a fastball/slider pitcher, mixing in the occasional curveball and changeup. His stuff sits low 90s, and his swinging strike rate has hovered around 8.0% for most of the past seven years. He’s far from flashy, but if the Twins are looking for a low-cost arm to round out the starting rotation, they could look in his direction.
Finally, and in somewhat of a flipping-the-script move, we take a look at Andrew Cashner. The oldest and most expensive of this group, Cashner will be 31 in 2018 and made $10 million on a one year deal with the Rangers last season. Across 28 starts, he compiled a 3.40 ERA along with an incredibly odd 4.6 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.
Long the darling of many writers, Cashner’s allure has never been alluring to me. There’s a decent amount to like here, but we’ve just never seen it all come together. His 3.80 ERA over the course of his career is just fine, but there have been plenty of mediocre seasons sprinkled in between good ones. Whether or not he takes a step forward or back is anyone’s guess.
Despite striking no one out, and walking too many batters in 2017, Cashner kept the ball in the yard. Playing home games in Texas, that’s a pretty tough task and he’s to be commended for that. The fastball is his pitch of choice, and he relies on secondary offerings of a slider, curveball and changeup almost equally. Despite once being an upper 90’s hurler, he’s since settle into the mid-90s at this latter half of his career.
Compared to the other two options, Cashner is the greatest wildcard. The strikeout and walk numbers a season ago were baffling, and not getting hurt more with them also leaves plenty of room for exposure. With velocity on his side however, he might have the ability to unlock more value.
In my thinking, signing someone like Lynn or Chatwood, along with one of this trio, seem to be intriguing options. Cobb represents the guy I’d most trust, and Cashner is probably the biggest flier. For the price, Chacin has appeal of his own as well. If you’re taking a look at it, how do you see them stacking up?
Check back next week as we move to the relief side of supplementing the Twins.
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