Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.

Front Page: Do the Twins Really Need to Add Another Starter?

randy dobnak lewis thorpe brusdar graterol devin smeltzer josh donaldson
  • Please log in to reply
135 replies to this topic

#1 Seth Stohs

Seth Stohs


  • Owner
  • 18,306 posts

Posted 16 January 2020 - 12:37 AM

The 2019 Minnesota Twins offense put up some historic numbers. On Tuesday, we learned that the team had added one of the best hitters over the last dozen years to the already-strong lineup. Twins fans got excited, thinking about the offensive numbers the team could produce. At the same time, many quickly jumped back to asking if the team still needs to add more pitching.Clearly the Twins went into the offseason hoping to add a top starting pitcher. Use the word “impact” if you like. The two impact starters on the free agent market weren’t coming here (Cole, Strasburg). Two of the free agent starters who fit in that next tier (Bumgarner and Wheeler) went elsewhere for non-baseball and non-dollar reasons. And it appears that the Twins just didn’t (understandably) want to give Hyun-Jin Ryu a fourth year.

With that, they shifted their attention to adding to an already-great offense. They gave Josh Donaldson a guaranteed $92 million over the next four years, and an option for 2024 that makes it pretty likely he is retained.

I am often told by Twins fans to expect the offense and several of its hitters to regress in 2020. First, my assumption is that something will be done with the baseball, which may reduce some offensive numbers, but that will be across the board, for all teams. And yes, teams will have more data points to develop a way to attack the Twins hitters. So, regression for some and for the whole, is certainly possible.

However, much of the Twins offense is made up of a core of players between 22-year-old Luis Arraez and 29-year-old Silver Slugger Mitch Garver. And none of them had seasons that were so far out of the realm of their potential that makes you think that any regression would have to be major. Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler all had strong seasons, but none of them outside of what we thought they could do when they were prospects.

Silver Slugger Nelson Cruz is going to turn 40 during the season. It’s silly to expect him to put up the same kind of numbers he put up in 2019, but his approach and his strength should still produce really good numbers in the middle of a lineup. Josh Donaldson replaces CJ Cron in the lineup. While he is older, he’s been one of the greatest hitters in baseball. If healthy, he should continue to put up eye-popping numbers.

Injuries? Yes, injuries happen and they aren’t necessarily easy or possible to predict. But, there is one good way to alleviate some of those concerns. The first is simply to have depth. The Twins have depth. Simply in the form of Marwin Gonzalez there is depth. He can play the corner infield and corner outfield spots. LaMonte Wade and Jake Cave can man the outfield spots when needed. Ehire Adrianza is a terrific utility infielder. Alex Avila is the backup catcher. And there are prospects, high-caliber prospects at each position, who are close to MLB-ready.

The Twins were able to keep Jake Odorizzi away from free agency for one more year by offering him the $17.8 million Qualifying Offer (and him accepting it). They also retained the services of right-hander Michael Pineda for the next two years. He will finish the final 39 games of his suspension and rejoin the team in mid-May.

Jose Berrios is entering his Age-26 season. He will need to figure out August, but there’s a lot to be excited about it, and there is potential for him to find another level. Jake Odorizzi found his next level in 2019. Michael Pineda, at the time he was suspended, was being talked about as a possible Game 1 starter in the playoffs. That’s a solid first three.

Homer Bailey? No, not exciting, but he has certainly had his moments. And, he was really good in the second half of 2019.

Rich Hill? Man, if only he could stay healthy. Over the last five years, he has been a top 10-15 starting pitcher in baseball. Of course, he won’t be back until at least June after elbow surgery. There is no way to know how that recovery and rehab will go with 100% confidence. But they got him for a great contract and even if he’s back by the end of July, and can get close to what he’s been in recent years, that’s a nice pitcher to have in August, September and October. Can the Twins get the best out of him?

With Hill and Pineda unable to start the season on the active list, the rotation will contain Berrios, Odorizzi, Bailey and…

Well, for right now, that answer comes down to about four options; Brusdar Graterol, Lewis Thorpe, Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer. Yes, Blaine Hardy will be at spring training. Jhoan Duran is on the 40-man roster, so he’ll be at big-league spring training for a while. There may be other names mentioned early in spring training. But for all intents and purposes, it comes down to those four pitchers.

All four pitched in the big leagues in 2019.

Randy Dobnak: He was the Twins minor league pitcher of the year in 2019 when he pitched in Ft. Myers, Pensacola, Rochester and ended the season with the Twins, pitching well enough in September to earn a Game 2 start in the playoffs. It didn’t go well, but it shouldn’t minimize how much he grew and improved over the course of the season. And, in addition to being a good story, he’s a good pitcher too.

Lewis Thorpe: He was the Twins minor league pitcher of the year in 2018. He spent most of 2019 in Rochester but came up a couple of times. He made a few starts and also pitched out of the bullpen. He had some good games and some not-so-good games, but what he did well is miss bats.

Devin Smeltzer: He moved back into a starting role in 2019 and started in Pensacola. A month later he was in Rochester, and before the end of May, he made his major-league debut and it went very well. He was a frequent guest on the Rochester-to-Minneapolis travel list but experienced success in a variety of roles in the big leagues.

Brusdar Graterol: He came up for September and worked out of the bullpen. He was off to a good start last year in AA, but he missed nearly three months in the middle of the season with a shoulder injury. He came back in the bullpen so that he could be called up and his triple-digit fastball could help the Twins late. He will be on some sort of innings plan, but most would think that it’d be ideal for him to continue developing as a starter. Could that be as a ‘Primary’ pitcher, or could he just be a regular starter until Pineda comes back, or until Hill returns?

Derek Falvey is often given a lot of credit for the pitching development in Cleveland. We have seen them continue to develop a pipeline of quality starters. Several of their current pitchers were not top prospects when they came up but certainly have developed into that status. Corey Kluber might just be the best example of that development plan and process, though he will be with the Rangers in 2020.

So, should we believe in Derek Falvey’s track record? Should we trust the processes that have been initiated by Falvey along with pitching guru Josh Kalk and minor league pitching coordinator Paul Maki, and each of the minor league coaches and coordinators brought in? How about their utilization of technologies in recent years? Why not give these guys a chance?

Herein lies the question from today’s title, Do the Twins need to add another starter?

In my opinion, the answer is obvious. No, they don’t NEED to add another starter. With this offense, the team will win a lot of games. Their top two pitchers (Berrios, Odorizzi) are good. Bailey certainly can be good. And, four young pitchers who got time in 2019 are certainly capable of being solid, and a few of them have the potential to be pretty good. Having that offensive support should certainly encourage them to throw a lot of strikes. Pineda will be back. Hill should be back a little later.

But, it isn’t that simple. While they don’t NEED to add another starter, Falvey and Thad Levine should continue to monitor the starting pitcher trade market. I don’t think Jon Gray or German Marquez are going to be available this offseason, but those are the caliber of pitcher that the team should show interest in. Y’all know I’m not at all high on Matt Boyd, but if the Twins research and development crew says that he could be a pitcher of the Berrios/Odorizzi/Pineda quality in 2020, maybe try that. There may be names that we haven’t even thought of that they could get.

But don’t just add any more pitchers just to add more pitchers. If they’re going to make a move, make it a good one. Get a pitcher as good as Odorizzi, or better.
If not, take your chances with a strong offense and a pretty solid starting rotation (and a pretty solid bullpen too, mind you). Continue to evaluate and teach those inexperienced pitchers, Get Pineda back. Get Hill back…

And keep an eye on the phone, always looking to make a big addition in July… or June… or May!

For much more on Brusdar Graterol, Lewis Thorpe, Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer, along with Jhoan Duran, Jordan Balazovic and about 90 other Twins minor league pitchers, order a copy of the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It is available in paperback or PDF ebook.

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

Click here to view the article
  • Dman and ewen21 like this

#2 KirbyDome89


    Rochester Red Wings

  • Member
  • 1,968 posts

Posted 16 January 2020 - 02:38 AM

Unequivocally yes, they need at least one other starter. 


They can probably mash their way to a division title in the weak Central but it'll be another disappointing postseason appearance if MN doesn't acquire somebody that'll slot into one of the top two spots in the rotation.


Rich Hill is far from a guarantee to even pitch this year. Pineda has his own laundry list of past injuries. Homer Bailey was largely ineffective and/or injured for 4+ seasons before a "strong 2nd half," last year where he was essentially a league average pitcher. Relying on Smeltzer, Thorpe, Dobnak, and Graterol to fill 2 rotation spots for any length of time is negligent. 


As of right now, if Berrios or Odorizzi are forced to miss any time over the first couple months, or Bailey simply isn't effective, an extremely potent offense could be wasted. 



  • Twins33, notoriousgod71, Sconnie and 11 others like this

#3 David HK

David HK

    Minnesota Twins

  • Member
  • 3,526 posts
  • LocationHong Kong

Posted 16 January 2020 - 02:58 AM

Another starter? No, they have starters aplenty.

A quality, high-level starter? Yes. Desperately.
  • ashbury, Steve Lein, Thrylos and 20 others like this

#4 TwinsFan347


    Elizabethton Twins

  • Member
  • 17 posts

Posted 16 January 2020 - 04:32 AM

Couldn't agree more - they certainly don't need to add another SP at this point. Also, agree that Gray or Marquez (I like both, prefer Marquez) are the type of SP we need to be looking at. We can start the season by providing some opportunities to internal options.


When we get to the trade deadline if this team is performing as expected there should more teams willing to trade and it may be easier to put together a deal for a SP. 


Either way this team is going to be a lot of fun to watch again this year.

  • Steve Lein, Heistyman, tarheeltwinsfan and 3 others like this

#5 VivaBomboRivera!


    Cedar Rapids Kernels

  • Member
  • 158 posts
  • Locationwest of Jingu, east of Koshien

Posted 16 January 2020 - 05:28 AM

The post-season lessons on the value of a strong rotation continue to accumulate. The current Twins lineup is not of that caliber, and does not augur to reach it without adding at least one top-class arm.

While we're at it:
Do rhetorical questions make good headlines? Talk amongst yourselves...
  • David HK likes this

#6 Curds&Hops


    Elizabethton Twins

  • Member
  • 1 posts

Posted 16 January 2020 - 05:37 AM

I completely agree with Seth.The Twins currently have enough young pitchers that deserve a legitimate chance to show they are ready for the show AND we need to determine if they can contribute in 2021!The Twins are trying to build a team that has a real chance to compete for a World Series ring yearly and that requires building a pitching pipeline.  


That being said, to compete for a World Series ring in 2020 we most likely need to pick up a SP better than Odo at the trade deadline.

  • LA VIkes Fan, KGB, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this

#7 tarheeltwinsfan


    Senior Member

  • Member
  • 1,458 posts

Posted 16 January 2020 - 05:41 AM

Rhetorical questions as headlines stimulate discussion. Nicely done Seth.

  • Sconnie, dbminn and MN_ExPat like this

#8 Sconnie



  • Moderator
  • 6,110 posts
  • LocationNW Wisconsin

Posted 16 January 2020 - 06:28 AM

Unequivocally yes, they need at least one other starter.

They can probably mash their way to a division title in the weak Central but it'll be another disappointing postseason appearance if MN doesn't acquire somebody that'll slot into one of the top two spots in the rotation.

Rich Hill is far from a guarantee to even pitch this year. Pineda has his own laundry list of past injuries. Homer Bailey was largely ineffective and/or injured for 4+ seasons before a "strong 2nd half," last year where he was essentially a league average pitcher. Relying on Smeltzer, Thorpe, Dobnak, and Graterol to fill 2 rotation spots for any length of time is negligent.

As of right now, if Berrios or Odorizzi are forced to miss any time over the first couple months, or Bailey simply isn't effective, an extremely potent offense could be wasted.

agreed, tons of back end depth for 20, but very thin at the top of the rotation.

Injuries will happen and having all that depth for starters 4-10 is great! It raises the floor. Having a solid chance win the 5th game as opposed to an automatic L is how you win the regular season.

Need to add a starter to the 1-3 range (preferably 1, but understand the difficulty/cost) to raise the ceiling. Having a 3rd high-end starter is how you win in the post season.
  • Twins33, DocBauer, PDX Twin and 4 others like this

#9 Doctor Gast

Doctor Gast

    Ft Myers Miracle

  • Member
  • 448 posts
  • LocationBelo Horizonte, Brazil

Posted 16 January 2020 - 06:35 AM

I agree w/ everybody. Could we get by w/o another impact arm?I think yes but if we want to excel we definitely need an impact arm. All the pitchers we had last year petered out (some more than others) except Pineda which started slow & got better & then didn`t finish. We don`t have anyone that can start strong & finish strong unless Berrios steps it up a notch. I believe to maximize our pitchers we need to use more often "the opener" the pitcher don`t have to pace themselves but go full bore & to give those who need it added rest. I love the way the Twins used the revolving door rotating pitchers from AAA to ML in that scenario we can`t have enough pitchers. To start the year we don`t have Hall (there is possibility he won`t come back) & Pineda, I`d want to groom Graterol as starter so that could mean him starting at AAA to perfect his secondary pitches. & w/ all these pitchers someone will most likely get hurt. I don`t want to limit the pitching coaches from taking on present & future possibility projects that they deem high upside. 

#10 beckmt


    Senior Member

  • Member
  • 2,591 posts

Posted 16 January 2020 - 06:47 AM

I agree with a lot of the posters here.I would like to see a front line starting pitcher, but it couldbe that pitcher is already in the organization and will be here this year.I am looking at the higher end starters and feel one of them will step forward andmake it.

  • MN_ExPat and rdehring like this

#11 tony&rodney


    Cedar Rapids Kernels

  • Member
  • 167 posts

Posted 16 January 2020 - 06:54 AM

A question to consider - What team is willing to trade a pitcher at or above Berrios quality right now?

A number of TD posters have called for a new shortstop. Would you trade Berrios for Trevor Story?


I can't fathom a trade of a top pitcher at this time. I do think a TOR pitcher is important and believed Cole was worth $36 million. Even that wasn't enough it turns out. The Twins have what they need for now.

There may be an ace available from a team that wants a load of prospects or is willing to gamble on change by July. The beauty of a luxury of riches allows the Twins to explore trades and wait for the proper time. 

#12 Major League Ready

Major League Ready

    Senior Member

  • Member
  • 2,238 posts

Posted 16 January 2020 - 07:11 AM

The obvious answer is we need someone that can go toe to toe with Cole/Severino and/or Verlander/Greinke. The better question might be is there a SP realistically available right now that can go toe to toe with them. Personally, I am hoping for Charlie Morton at the trade deadline. 

  • David HK, DannySD and Doctor Gast like this

#13 Tomj14


    Rochester Red Wings

  • Member
  • 1,157 posts

Posted 16 January 2020 - 07:14 AM

"Do the Twins Really Need to Add Another Starter?"

As of 1/16/2020 they don't NEED to add another starter, they have a bunch.

I mean one is out at least half the year, another is injury prone and suspended for a 1/4 of the season, one has had pretty bad second half, one before his "contract" year was just above average, and 4 are basically rookies and one of them is injury prone.

So do I fell confident in the above to win the central and go deep into the playoffs. ummm, not really, but super hopeful that two of those rookies pitch well enough to pencil in the rotation next year.

So with that said, No they don't need to add another starter, but it would help this year and the future to bring in a pitcher you could pencil in the rotation for a least a few years, so they aren't going into every off season looking for 2,3,4 starting pitchers to fill out the rotation.


#14 USAFChief


    Bad puns. That's how eye roll.

  • Moderator
  • 25,800 posts
  • LocationTucson

Posted 16 January 2020 - 07:15 AM

The Twins needed to add to the top of the rotation when the offseason started.

They havent.

The answer seems self evident.
  • diehardtwinsfan, Twins33, jctwins and 11 others like this

Cutting my carbs...with a pizza slicer.

#15 rdehring


    Rochester Red Wings

  • Member
  • 1,910 posts

Posted 16 January 2020 - 07:22 AM

Agree with Seth and others that the Twins don't need another starter at this time.Am confident that two of the four young guns mentioned will be fine until Pineda gets back in mid-May.Then they will only need one of the four until Hill is back, if he does return as the pitcher everyone expects.After Hill's return, all four will return to Rochester and be available for the shuttle when/if another starter/long reliever is needed.


As for which two of the four break camp with the Twins, not a clue.Could be any of the four, however, am confident at least one will make it very difficult for the Twins to send him down when/if Hill returns.


With that said, I wouldn't be surprised if the Twins complete another trade similar to the Odorizzi trade.Send one or two prospects who aren't in the top 10 or 15 for a youngish starter with some upside.Probably one who no one has been talking about going out and getting.But will he be better than the best of Thorpe, Dobnak, Smeltzer or Graterol?

  • MN_ExPat and EPEZRider like this

#16 arby58


    Elizabethton Twins

  • Member
  • 10 posts

Posted 16 January 2020 - 07:41 AM


As of right now, if Berrios or Odorizzi are forced to miss any time over the first couple months, or Bailey simply isn't effective, an extremely potent offense could be wasted. 

Last year, the three teams that won over 100 games in the AL were also the teams that scored the most runs - Yankees, Twins and Astros, in that order. Yes, it's great to have shut-down pitching, but it's also evident from this result that you can win a lot of games by scoring a lot of runs.

  • Dman and MN_ExPat like this

#17 dbminn


    Pensacola Blue Wahoos

  • Member
  • 837 posts
  • LocationSaint Paul, MN

Posted 16 January 2020 - 07:59 AM

Gambling on two unproven SP, good health and Homer Bailey for the first 40 games is risky. They can make the odds better by trading for a proven young starter.


Don't sell Cleveland short. They won 93 games last year and now have Carrasco back in the rotation. They too are gambling on some young players, including Orlando Mercado, Jake Bauers and Franmil Reyes. But why take the risk early in the season? Go get a SP.







  • Twins33, DocBauer, rghrbek and 3 others like this

#18 TopGunn#22



  • Member
  • 185 posts

Posted 16 January 2020 - 08:05 AM

I think they are pretty well set for now.As we approach the trade deadline, survey the landscape and see who may be available and at what price.Who knows...a team that thought they'd contend may have flopped (Mets---Thor, Edwin Diaz, etc...) and some of our prospects may be having a great bounce back year (Wander Javier) that other teams may show interest in them.  

#19 BBAM


    Cedar Rapids Kernels

  • Member
  • 182 posts

Posted 16 January 2020 - 08:07 AM

I would go to the minor league and start seeing who has it and who does't.Why is Caleb Thielbar still Rochester, he is 32.Bring him up give him one last chance and move on.I have always felt like the Twins keep players in the minor leagues too long.There are 3 others over 30 in AAA.Give them one last shot and be done and let then next group move up to AAA.Bring the 25+ guys from AA to AAA and give them 1-2 more years and then be done with them.

#20 twinsfanstreif


    Senior Member

  • Member
  • 762 posts

Posted 16 January 2020 - 08:12 AM

You guys are missing the fact that we should get a boost in pitching simply by the Astros and Yankees not stealing signals! Therefore Berrios and Odorizzi should be a very good 1-2 punch in the playoffs. Let's hope that Graterol can pull out his best 2006 Liriano impression (minus the blown elbow of course) and then we'll have a solid starting 4 in the playoffs

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: randy dobnak, lewis thorpe, brusdar graterol, devin smeltzer, josh donaldson