• SP Depth Chart - 9/14

    An updated glance at the Twins' starting pitching depth chart, with a couple weeks remaining in the season. Barring any major developments over the rest of the month, this is how we view the team's SP pecking order heading into the offseason:

    1. Scott Diamond. He's gone through some struggles recently, with a 6.64 ERA over his past four starts, but that was to be expected. In addition to the fact that he was bound for some regression, he might be wearing down with 183 innings pitched this season. Nevertheless, he's clearly at the head of the pack.

    2. Sam Deduno. Against all odds, the 29-year-old continues to turn in quality starts despite an ugly 48-to-43 strikeout-to-walk ratio. After tossing a dud against the Rangers on August 24, he's bounced back with a 1.80 ERA in three starts since. Most impressive, he's struck out 18 and walked only six in 20 innings during that span.

    3. Cole De Vries. He's done for the season after suffering cracked ribs on a comeback line drive last week, but De Vries has seemingly positioned himself well by turning in a solid 4.11 ERA and backing it up with decent peripherals (outside of his ugly homer rate). Still, it's difficult to trust his stuff.

    4. Liam Hendriks. The rookie's path to becoming a better pitcher is clear: attack the strike zone more and bring down that .350 BABIP. He's continued to struggle in both areas since rejoining the rotation, but at least he's dialed down the long balls since his earlier stint.

    5. P.J. Walters. After a fairly impressive stretch earlier in the year, he spent two months on disabled list and in two starts since returning he has been flat-out terrible. Still, his performance when healthy should be enough to merit another shot in Rochester next year.

    6. Esmerling Vasquez. His strong performance in Triple-A earned him a September call-up, but two putrid outings since joining the Twins in addition to the fact that he's been used almost exclusively as a reliever in the minors lately confirm what we already thought: he's not equipped to start in the bigs.

    ---

    7. Kyle Gibson. Among pitchers not currently in the rotation, Gibson has to be the most likely candidate to claim a spot out of spring training next year. He pitched well in a short minor-league rehab stint this year and will hopefully be fully on track after throwing in the Arizona Fall League.

    8. Brian Duensing. His struggles as a starter (6.92 ERA) and success as a reliever (2.98 ERA) should have the Twins convinced of what his role needs to be.

    9. Anthony Swarzak. Like Duensing, Swarzak is clearly meant to be pitching out of the bullpen. He's a useful long reliever but nothing more than an emergency spot starter.

    10. B.J. Hermsen. Dark horse for a rotation spot next year? Probably not, as the Twins aren't apt to rush young prospects, but the 22-year-old's long track record of success which continued this year as he posted the fifth-best ERA in the Class-AA Eastern League despite younger than anyone in front of him cannot be ignored.
    This article was originally published in blog: SP Depth Chart - 9/14 started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 24 Comments
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      For better or worse:

      1) Gotta think Pedro Hernandez has to be in the mix in the top 10, certainly above demonstrably repeated failure-worthy alternatives.

      2) Nick Blackburn will be given every chance to earn that $5.5M next year, too.

      3) Good to see you've come around to my way of thinking (and your own from 2011) regarding Duensing as a starter. Unfortunately, Gardenhire has left the door open for Duensing to compete for a top 5 spot in 2013. Dunce is a great asset to the team in his RP/Spot Starter role from the left side, leave him be, already.

      4) Good to see that you have come around in your thinking to giving Hermsen every benefit of the doubt moving forward. His numbers indicate he is wise beyond his years, a kid who knows how to pitch, even without the greatest stuff.

      5) Will the Twins wait on Gibson for a June call-up, seems that's usually the way they roll?

      6) I suspect Hermsen and Gibson will join Hernandez, a MiL FA and Martis or Hirschfield as the likely top 5 SPs to start out in Rochester.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      No guarantees with any pitcher on the list. Combine this list with their aging offense and it is hard to imagine they will improve on this year's record.

      On the other hand, this year's rotation combined for -4 WAR. If they can turn that into +6 WAR next year, that is a swing of 10.

      If they can acquire three guys that can provide a total of 6, I think the right mix of the current group can provide the 0 additional WAR necessary to achieve that level.
    1. ltwedt's Avatar
      ltwedt -
      Boy - not much to look forward to in terms of SP.

      Here are three things that absolutely MUST happen next year:

      1 - the entire medical staff/FO need to start making better decisions about the health of the players and the DL;

      2 - One (or more) of these players should be traded for something other than a C+ prospect - hopefully a SP - Span, Morneau, Willingham;

      3 - The Front Office needs to look to improve NOW - not after the 2014 All-Star game is here, and the attendance drops below 30k.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Um, the less said, the better.
    1. roger's Avatar
      roger -
      I certainly agree with your top three and expect that for what its worth, the three D's are penciled into the #3-#5 spot for next spring. Like many of you, I see Duensing as their top left-handed set-up guy with Swarzak staying in long relief.

      I also see five others who will compete for a spot in the rotation in spring training, with Hendriks having the best shot of breaking in. The others are Walters, Vasquez, Hernandez and Nick Blackburn, who remains a member of the organization who is unlikely to go anywhere as long as someone would have to pick up a $5.5mm contract.

      I expect Gibson will begin his season in Rochester where they will limit his innings a bit so that they don't have a Strasburg situation later in the year. I see him as being one of the first guys they go to early in the season when someone is injured or falters.

      I also expect Mr. Ryan will sign at least a couple minor league guys (like Dudino and Walters this year) who will get a look in spring training and provide depth at Rochester. I also think there is a good chance he will sign Scott Baker to an incentive heavy contract. I don't see Baker being ready for the Twins on opening day, however, could join Gibson as someone to step in and improve the rotation come late May or June.

      That leaves two holes to fill with one being their top guy. Hmmmh!
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      After Diamond, doesnt look great. I agree with guy above--given that list--Blackburn will be given every chance. I think Walters will come back next year. So if we get a SP from Span, Revere or Josh--that means new SP, Diamond, Walters, Deduno and pick from Blackburn, DeVries, Duensing until Gibson is ready...not the greatest...
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      I'd like to know a bit more about Pedro Hernandez. I assume they'll bring him in to compete in ST, but does he have a shot to pull out a spot?
    1. Montecore's Avatar
      Montecore -
      Just awful. The early '80s staff now seems magnificent. And, it doesn't help that Liriano threw a 1 hitter with 9 Ks today.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      The likelihood that Liriano will be in the 2013 rotation has not changed with his trade to the White Sox.
    1. Steve Penz's Avatar
      Steve Penz -
      Agreed with roger on baker. Earlier this season baker was on many lists like this. Seth said that he thought he could be ready to contribute during the season and maybe not right away. If he came at the right price I would not be against having him on the squad. The way many recover from tj surgery today, I feel he has some productive years left.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      I don't know anything about his progress but if he is close to ready someone will give him near the 9 million option figure.

      Even with missing games most seasons his WAR still averages about 3 per year during his last 5 seasons. His WPA also holds strong. This is true using fangraphs or baseball reference's calculation.

      In 21 starts in 2011, his WAR was well above 2 with either calculation (4.2, 2.8) . His WPA was 1.55. If the Twins assess he is healthy enough to provide 2 WAR, they need to pick up the option. The going rate for starting pitching will be above 5 million per 1 WAR.

      If the Twins believe in his progress, they must pick up his option. If they don't believe in his health, why sign him?
    1. Montecore's Avatar
      Montecore -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      I don't know anything about his progress but if he is close to ready someone will give him near the 9 million option figure.

      Even with missing games most seasons his WAR still averages about 3 per year during his last 5 seasons. His WPA also holds strong. This is true using fangraphs or baseball reference's calculation.

      In 21 starts in 2011, his WAR was well above 2 with either calculation (4.2, 2.8) . His WPA was 1.55. If the Twins assess he is healthy enough to provide 2 WAR, they need to pick up the option. The going rate for starting pitching will be above 5 million per 1 WAR.

      If the Twins believe in his progress, they must pick up his option. If they don't believe in his health, why sign him?
      Sure. Baker's a good pitcher. A guy who can win 15+ games in a given year. They don't have anybody even close to that. Be nice if he could come back strong. Re Liriano, would they really offer him a viable contract? Would he come back? They've never done anything remotely like that, so...
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Diamond is guy who the team is counting on as their 'ace', as of now.
      Im not the biggest fan of his, in that regard, as I think he's more of a 3/4 guy at his highest. I wouldnt be stunned if he flames out next year.
      I see Gibson, DeVries, Blackburn, Hernandez (none of 4 'can' win a job in ST IMO) & probably Hermsen...tho with the Twins way of doin things, I could see BJ back in AA so they can sign a MiFA...or will Hendrix be in AAA?
      I question what they will do with Hendrix. I belive they will give him EVERY shot at winning a spot...as their best 'youngest' pitching prospect. Remember how bad Diamond was last yr....Liam can make that same kind of jump. Im not even sold that they wont package Liam for something.
      Deduno will be in competition with the AAA guys, but his 'out of options scholarship' will be invoked and will be given the spot.
      This leaves Baker and/or Pavano for a spot....probably Scot (who may have to start in minors for a month).
      If they dont sign both, then a FA/trade scenario comes up....but NO teams are looking to deal starters (esp for even deal, they want the steal).
      For the FA guys, I expect Joe Blanton/Jeremey Guthrie.....if they are looking to deal, Id love to see them sniff around TOR's Brandon Morrow
    1. scottz's Avatar
      scottz -
      This is a great list if we are trying to figure out who the 4th and 5th starters will be for the squad next year. It is an OK list if we are trying to figure out who the 3rd, 4th, and 5th starters will be for next year. Come on Pipe Dream/3 FA starters!

      FA's (age) who I would either love or be OK with pursuing (assuming options aren't picked up):
      Scott Baker (31) - $9.25MM club option
      Scott Feldman (29) - $9.25MM club option with a $600K buyout
      Gavin Floyd (30) - $9.5MM club option
      Zack Greinke (28)
      Dan Haren (32) - $15.5MM club option with a $3.5MM buyout
      Roberto Hernandez (32) - $9MM club option
      Tim Hudson (37) - $9MM club option with a $1MM buyout
      Edwin Jackson (29)
      Colby Lewis (33)
      Francisco Liriano (29)
      Shaun Marcum (31)
      Brandon McCarthy (29)
      Jake Peavy (31) - $22MM club option with a $4MM buyout
      Anibal Sanchez (29)
      James Shields (31) - $9MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
      Carlos Villanueva (29)

      But, I hear it is a "thin" FA market.
    1. Montecore's Avatar
      Montecore -
      Quote Originally Posted by scottz View Post
      This is a great list if we are trying to figure out who the 4th and 5th starters will be for the squad next year. It is an OK list if we are trying to figure out who the 3rd, 4th, and 5th starters will be for next year. Come on Pipe Dream/3 FA starters!

      FA's (age) who I would either love or be OK with pursuing (assuming options aren't picked up):
      Scott Baker (31) - $9.25MM club option
      Scott Feldman (29) - $9.25MM club option with a $600K buyout
      Gavin Floyd (30) - $9.5MM club option
      Zack Greinke (28)
      Dan Haren (32) - $15.5MM club option with a $3.5MM buyout
      Roberto Hernandez (32) - $9MM club option
      Tim Hudson (37) - $9MM club option with a $1MM buyout
      Edwin Jackson (29)
      Colby Lewis (33)
      Francisco Liriano (29)
      Shaun Marcum (31)
      Brandon McCarthy (29)
      Jake Peavy (31) - $22MM club option with a $4MM buyout
      Anibal Sanchez (29)
      James Shields (31) - $9MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
      Carlos Villanueva (29)

      But, I hear it is a "thin" FA market.
      Actually, the list is unimpressive. Peavy gets hurt, Haren's seen his best days. Greinke? Liriano is just too puzzling but, that's who they should go for. They won't and why would he want to pitch for a team with no discernible hopes?
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Colby Lewis had ligament surgery in his elbow a couple months ago.
    1. scottz's Avatar
      scottz -
      Quote Originally Posted by Montecore View Post
      [Actually, the list is unimpressive. Peavy gets hurt, Haren's seen his best days. Greinke? Liriano is just too puzzling but, that's who they should go for. They won't and why would he want to pitch for a team with no discernible hopes?
      Actually, I disagree.

      Unimpressive is a list of in-house candidates where the #1 pitcher listed is a number 3 guy for an average rotation. In my opinion, the 16 players I listed would all be better than what the in-house list would provide. Including the 32 year old formerly known as the 29 year old Fausto Carmona.

      And as far as discernible hopes...help me out if I'm following you right. The Twins are bad and have no discernible hopes. Therefore, they shouldn't attempt to sign players to try to get better? Players will sign where they a) can get the most, b) like the area - i.e., family stuff, c) can win. Hopefully, all three of these things. But, like all people, they don't live in an ideal world and don't always get everything they want.

      Shaun Marcum would be a huge improvement for the roster, but he also spends a fair amount of time on the DL. Would I still like him for 24-28 starts per year? Um...YES. He's not a world beater, but he's WAY better than the in-house options. Brandon McCarthy? Same story. It's not a flawless list, but to call it unimpressive is disingenuous. For if it was a flawless list and therefore "impressive", according to your logic, those guys wouldn't want to play here anyway.

      The Twins need outside help. They need at least two guys and maybe three from this list. Three is a pipe dream, I know. But two? Or one from this list and a trade that brings an equivalent type of pitcher? That is necessary.

      Also, if you want to see unimpressive, you should see the list of free agents who I would prefer they do not pursue.
    1. scottz's Avatar
      scottz -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Colby Lewis had ligament surgery in his elbow a couple months ago.
      I'm aware. He wouldn't, in all likelihood, help in 2013 except perhaps to provide hope for 2014. Is a creative contract possible that is good and fair for both team and player? I don't know. But I wouldn't be upset if they made a fair, creative offer. Obviously, he couldn't be the only pitcher pursued to help the 2013 team.
    1. Steve Penz's Avatar
      Steve Penz -
      I am doing my best to keep my hopes reasonable for the acquisition of SP. Sign one guy. Just one. Anything else would be bonus. I realize that the Twins need plenty more that one SP. Many folks were disappointed in the Liriano trade and I think that if Span is traded that many will be dissapointed with the return that comes. Much of that dissapointment comes from over valuing the worth of the piece we are trading away. Sign one guy who can win 12-14 games. I feel that is doable and that would help this team a great deal and make the season much more fun to watch. Then with more acquisition and the maturation of some younger players, I hope to begin to make a run again in 2014.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      The Twins would be far better off trading pieces away to get starting pitching and using their money to sign replacements for the traded pieces. The current crop of free agents per dollar is as wretched as the Twins staff. In my opinion the Twins would have to overpay for pitching. The second tier free agent will cost in the 9-10 million a year range for 13-14 wins. For the same money you would get a better outfielder/first baseman type, as that is all the Twins really have they can trade. The Twins trade low level prospects for potential help, not as packages. To get a quality pitcher for one of the middle infielders defies logic, but there is always hope that there is another bad trader out there.
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