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Mid Season: Time to Examine 2015 Rotation

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#1 DocBauer


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Posted 04 July 2014 - 04:27 PM

Hey Gang,

I did one of these a week or so ago regarding the 2015 bullpen. It was a little early, granted, but with so much trade speculation and other commentary, it felt appropriate at the time.

We we have now reached the half-way point of the ML season, just shy of the All-Star break, but beyond All-Star and half-way points of the minor league season. And not only has there been consistent trade speculation, but also mentions of the Future Games and the June minor league SP of the month and runners up. I think it's an appropriate time to look ahead to 2015 at this time.

What we know:

Despite a couple of rough outings recently, Hughes has proven to be a tremendous addition to the ball club. He has proven to be anywhere from solid to dominant. He's been mentioned as deserving All Star consideration, and deservedly so. While perhaps not ACE caliber, he has been a revelation for the Twins staff, especially considering the caliber of SP's the Twins have marched out to the mound the past few seasons. And the best part is, that despite the mentioned couple of rough starts recently, which virtually every pitcher encounters, he's not only still relatively young, but under Twins control for two seasons beyond this one.

Gibson, as you might expect, has also had a few 50-50 stretches so far. But he's also flashed real ability, real dominance at times, and for the most part, seems to have recently conquered his road woes with a couple of excellent performances. There is a level of consistency he's still striving to reach, but in his first full season of SP at the ML level, the results have bordered on good to excellent. It remains to be seen how high Gibson May climb, and perhaps he arrived too late to achieve true elite status, but don't forget that 2013 was his "comeback" year from surgery where he tried to re-establish himself. And despite a split year overall, he made the club this year despite many believing he'd start the year initially in AAA.

Nolasco was actually considered the Twins biggest FA prize, not Hughes. While never dominant, he is a solid, productive innings eating SP with periods of almost dominance and excellent perifferals who spent several seasons with losing ball clubs. He has lacked anything regarding consistency so far this season, but just recently has probably his best start of the season. And considering his career norms to this point, you'd expect real improvement. And with another 3 years locked up after this one, he's not going anywhere. Ultimately, that could be a good thing.

This leaves 2 spots in the starting rotation for 2015 with Correia gone.

Top prospects May and Meyer have show real flashes this season, both in their FIRST seasons of AAA. May, until his recent, reportedly mild, calf strain seemed to be on the fast track to promotion. Some speculated it would come to pass just after the Futures Game, of which his appearance is now in question. He has an ERA below 3 in his first shot at AAA, a Whip of only 1.13, more SO's than IP, fewer hits than IP, a 2.5-1 SO to BB ratio while averaging more than 6 IP per start.

Meyer has had a little more up and down season thus far, though largely successful. He has been amongst the IL leaders in SO the entire season, has allowed 12 less hits than IP, and has an ERA of 3.46 and a Whip of 1.32. His BB are higher than preferred, but still maintains a 2-1 margin of 93-39. He had a rough stretch recently which brought about much speculation regarding injury and tired arm syndrome, only to see him put up two consecutive solid starts. His talent and potential are almost unquestionable.

Logan Darnell, a 6th round pick in 2010, is a young 25 y.o. LHSP overlooked by some. He has had a solid but mostly non-descript minor league career until 2013 where he was excellent at AA New Britain before a solid second half season at Rochester. Thus far, ignoring a fairly impressive cup of coffee with the parent club that lasted all of 3 innings, he is having the best season of his young career. Thus far, he has a 3.12 ERA on the season with a .250 BA against, a 1.41 Whip, fewer hits than IP, and a solid 2-1 SO to BB ratio.
Perhaps not as impressive overall as May and Meyer, but solid, and like them, his first full season in AAA and only 25 y.o.

Kris Johnson is a 30 y.o. who should maybe be dismissed as a journeyman career milb player. Except, 2013, where he lead the IL in ERA, and 2014 might actually be the two best years of his career. For 2014, he's been a stalwart of the Rochester staff with a 2.86 ERA and 1.24 Whip. He also has a 2-1 SO to BB ratio and has allowed 76 hits in 91 IP producing a .223 BA against.

I wouldn't pretend that Johnson is the same kind of prospect as May or Meyer, and in fact, the younger Darnell is also a better overall prospect with little doubt. But whether as a starter or role player, I'm not sure Johnson should be ignored.

And what about Pelfrey? He rushed back from TJ surgery in 2013. He and the Twins both admit that. For a while last season, he pitched consistent and well before his arm tired. But it was that stretch, and belief in a stronger one year later post-surgery performance that lead to his new 2 year deal, ill advised or not. So two years removed from TJ and his latest, much more minor surgery, by the wayside, is he a potentially solid option for one of the five spots?

How does all of this shake out? Do the Twins make an unexpected move? Is there another surprise you anticipate?

#2 glunn


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Posted 04 July 2014 - 04:41 PM

Interesting post, Doc. I hope that people who respond can stay on topic. This could be a fun discussion.

#3 pierre75275


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Posted 04 July 2014 - 04:53 PM

There is this kid....Berrios....I dont know if y'all have heard of him or not but he might get a shot next year. The chances are not good for it but if he his very good at AA (presuming he gets promoted) he could start next year at AAA. I hope Pelfrey is forced to earn his way on the roster next year. I would hate to see the likes of Meyer May Gilmartin Johnson Darnell at AAA just because of Pelfry

#4 Craig Arko

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Posted 04 July 2014 - 05:26 PM

Hughes, Gibson, Nolasco, Meyer, May.

Johnson and Darnell replace Duensing and either Deduno or Swarzak. Berrios moves up, but not all the way. Pelfrey likely winds up in the pen, instead of Guerrier, Tonkin instead of Burton. Burdi is perhaps the wild card.

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#5 Thrylos


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Posted 04 July 2014 - 05:57 PM

Barring trades and assuming no front office & field management changes this off-season(alphabetically) : Gibson, Hughes, Nolasco, Pelfrey (if healthy) and the fifth spot will be a battle among (alphabetically) : Darnell, Deduno, Johnson, May (if healthy), Meyer.

I also assume that they will not offer arbitration to Diamond and he will be a free agent.

Not sure that Darnell is really that great of a pitcher, or even "solid" (I guess a lot of people are using "solid" to mean "average" or "not awful"; I'd take that he is "solid" in that sense.) Other than half a season in AA, the past 4 seasons his FIP has been in the 4s and this season is 4.44. Other that that half season, his WHIP has not been below 1.37. Looks a lot like Diamond to me.

I think that it will be a solid :) rotation next season. If for some reason Meyer and May both make the team, you will have either May or Gibson as your number 5 starter. That is not a bad place to be...

Again, that is an educated guess based on how this team has been doing things. If there are changes in the front office or field management, all bets are off.
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#6 TheLeviathan


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Posted 04 July 2014 - 06:58 PM

We need to buy Pelfrey a nice cabin and have a long talk about the beauty of retirement.

#7 beckmt


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Posted 04 July 2014 - 07:23 PM

I feel you will have one of May or Meyer here and maybe both. That leaves Nolasco and Hughes with Gibson, May and or Meyer in the rotation. Rest can be fought over the rest of the year and in spring training. Twins will probably have to clear space for Berrios next year if not before. Pelfrey can either retire, be in the pen or DFA'ed.

#8 Danchat


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Posted 04 July 2014 - 07:44 PM

Between the six main guys (Gibson, Hughes, Nolasco, Pelfrey, Meyer, May) one of them will probably end up being hurt/getting TJ surgery. That will narrow it down to a 5 man rotation. (Now while we shouldn't rely on something like that, it's bound to happen. Or, if not, we'll say Meyer isn't ready for the rotation and continues in AAA.)

For the bullpen, I'd like to see Pino, Darnell, and Johnson all at least try out for it. I could see any of them becoming the next Swarzak/Duensing. But for now (and the future) those three guys are nice depth and should stay in the wings.

Also, don't rule out signing another starting pitcher in FA, actually, I'd count on the Twins getting at least one more via FA or a trade. Remember, the Twins were still trying to find a pitcher even after we gave Pelfrey a two year deal.

#9 diehardtwinsfan


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Posted 05 July 2014 - 06:56 AM

Nolasco, Gibson, and Hughes aren't going anywhere for 2015. I think that's been stated multiple times here. I think Pelfrey is going to get a spot regardless as well (even though personally I'd strongly think about calling this a sunk cost). The front office will give him every bit of chance to build up some trade value before the deadline. My guess is that May is probably the first option for the last spot. Meyer, Darnell, and Johnson will all get shots due to injury and ineffectiveness. Not sure what the option considerations are on Darnell and Johnson, but I'd be guessing that Johnson will be out of options soon and could potentially be forced into a pen role to keep him.

As much as I like Berrios, he won't need to be on the 40 man next season, so he's probably not going to be in this discussion in 2015 unless he absolutely forces it and other guys suddenly disappoint.

#10 DocBauer


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Posted 05 July 2014 - 08:43 PM

I sure hope someone isn't eliminated due to TJ or other serious injury. I know it happens, and it sure has happened to a lot of other teams this year. I'd like to think the baseball gods owe us a few marks in the positive column.

Im a huge Berrios believer and fan, and I do believe he'll see AA at some point this second half. But as Diehard points out, he doesn't have to be placed on the 40 man this next season. With the guys ahead of him at the moment, his young age, and no 40 man pressure at this point, it makes it that much easier to bring him along. But wouldn't it be fun if he forces the issue at some point.

Id love to see both May and Meyer up and permanately in. Most of us were surprised, I think, when the Twins kept Gibson out of ST. I think a lot of us were simply resolved they'd stick with Diamond or someone else stubbornly until proven wrong and Gibson was recalled. Keeping Gibson has been one of the best moves of the season, and it's paying huge dividends.

Would the Twins keep both May and Meyer at the same time? Would they feel comfortable keeping two rookies in the rotation from the get-go? Would it depend on one or both of them performing at the ML level this year? I think the Twins have shown a grudging willingness to cut bait on certain players and their contracts before, but I believe Pelfrey will definitely come to camp. If healthy finally and throwing well, is he a shoe-in to give another veteran influence? At least initially to see how things play out, or as a trade option?

#11 stringer bell

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Posted 05 July 2014 - 09:16 PM

There is a lot of pitching talent throughout the minor leagues and there are guys who miss bats. As much time as is spent projecting position players, pitching should be analyzed and dissected. I like Berrios. I thought this would be a big year for him and so far, he has been fantastic. There may be a gem in the Rochester rotation, beyond Meyer and May. I'd like to see Johnson get a shot.

#12 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 06 July 2014 - 10:47 AM

How did the timeline for Meyer get pushed back from, don't worry he'll be up sometime in June, to now he might have a chance to win a job next Spring?
Because he's only pitching really well at AAA, instead of dominating?
The guy will be 25 years old by then, and is a top 25 prospect. It's time to cut the cord and see if he can pitch or not.
I'm sorry but if Meyer is healthy next Spring, and isn't all but guaranteed a rotation spot, on a supposed rebuilding team, which will likely be coming off 4 consecutive 90+ (or in this years case, at least 85+) loss seasons, then it will be starting to border on bizarre.

#13 iTwins


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Posted 07 July 2014 - 03:10 PM

My .02:

(In no particular order)

Hughes, Meyer, May, Gibson, McCarthy (As in Brandon McCarthy. Total shot in the dark, but I could see the Twins making another move this offseason and McCarthy is a solid fit. His secondary numbers show that his ERA struggles in Arizona have been due in large part to rough luck and poor defense.)

Berrios starts 2015 in AA, but is quick to move to AAA and could make a late showing to the rotation. I have no solution for where Nolasco went, but he's not in my imaginary rotation next year. (Maybe he's a long reliever, maybe he took a nice long vacation to Belize). Pelfrey works out of the 'pen alongside Pino / Darnell.

#14 Jaykay


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Posted 07 July 2014 - 03:37 PM

Nolasco (cringe)

Darnell/Johnson/Gilmartin filling in when necessary and Berrios challenging at the end of the year.

#15 drjim


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Posted 07 July 2014 - 04:59 PM

I'll offer a dark horse addition this offseason - James Shields.

Pelfrey/Meyer/May battle it out for the last spot.
Papers...business papers.

#16 DocBauer


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Posted 07 July 2014 - 10:01 PM

My .02:

(In no particular order)

Hughes, Meyer, May, Gibson, McCarthy (As in Brandon McCarthy. Total shot in the dark, but I could see the Twins making another move this offseason and McCarthy is a solid fit. His secondary numbers show that his ERA struggles in Arizona have been due in large part to rough luck and poor defense.)

Berrios starts 2015 in AA, but is quick to move to AAA and could make a late showing to the rotation. I have no solution for where Nolasco went, but he's not in my imaginary rotation next year. (Maybe he's a long reliever, maybe he took a nice long vacation to Belize). Pelfrey works out of the 'pen alongside Pino / Darnell.

You know, something like this has crossed my mind. I don't believe Nolasco is going anywhere at the moment. And I hope he doesn't. That would mean he's having an off year, figures things out, and still proves to be a solid investment. But if not, he wouldn't be the first or last SP to just not be a fit, for whatever reason, and be moved elsewhere, probably with the Twins picking up at least some of his contract. At least in theory. Again, I'd rather eat Pelfrey's contract and see Nolasco pitch up to his career norms, if not better. After all, he's in a fairly friendly home pitchers ballpark.

But there is part of me that thinks the Twins might just make one bold move for the rotation again this offseason. Yes, we have some CF, LF, DH concerns to also address! But, let's just say we re-sign Morales to a year long deal or two, no longer prorated. And we sign ourselves a solid producing LF, and a decent stop-gap CF/4th, all of that could be accomplished with what we are already spending plus the expiring contacts of Correia and Willinham, which is about 13M. Do our finances then allow one big move? Possibly, especially if we can find a fit for Nolasco. Though, again, I believe Nolasco stays and hopefully finds himself.

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#17 DocBauer


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Posted 07 July 2014 - 10:04 PM

I'll offer a dark horse addition this offseason - James Shields.

Pelfrey/Meyer/May battle it out for the last spot.

Love it!

But only happens if we find a good fit elsewhere for Nolasco, picking up some of his contract, and are content with a AA prospect, or high A, and a bag of balls tossed in.

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#18 mnsports255


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Posted 07 July 2014 - 10:23 PM

Personally, I think Nolasco's future in the Twins rotation is in doubt. Not sure what the Twins plans with him will be, but Gardy is clearly frustrated. Coming back from his little injury, he has to show something if he has any plans of starting next year.

I have a rotation of Hughes, May, Gibson, Meyer, Kyle Kendrick (Phillies FA)
I also think Berrios will debut at some point next year.

#19 Otwins


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Posted 07 July 2014 - 10:38 PM

I think a free agent addition would make sense. They were still offering Garza after they signed Nolasco and Hughes so they have the money. The rotation of Hughes, Gibson, Nolasco (if healthy) May and Meyer with Pelfrey in the bullpen sounds OK. But that is relying on two 1st year pitchers and two injured pitchers. Berrios will not be ready so adding a free agent will be important IMHO.

#20 oldguy10


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Posted 08 July 2014 - 06:16 AM

"sounds OK" to whom exactly? The five man rotation you name here is another recipe for disaster in 2015 in my mind. And who exactly would be a free agent to replace May or Meyer and which one of those two do you not promote then? Pelfrey is not a relief pitcher by any stretch, he would not accept that situation anyway, simply not in his makeup.