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Do the Twins Have Enough Rotation Depth?

homer bailey kenta maeda jake odorizzi michael pineda rich hill
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#1 Thiéres Rabelo

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Posted 01 March 2020 - 09:50 PM

It’s the year 2018. The Twins are coming off a great, exciting season, reaching the playoffs for the first time in seven years. They increased the hype by making great signings during the offseason and spring training. Things didn’t work out, though.

If anything is not going to work all that well this year, would the Twins be prepared to handle it?First of all, I think it’s important to state that I don’t think things are going to head the wrong way. This already good team only became stronger and is, in theory, bound to have another positive year. But maybe it’s important to imagine what alternative routes a team can take when facing unexpected adversities.

Injuries are almost one-hundred percent impossible to foresee. So, there’s nothing a club and a player can do to completely avoid them. But, yeah, they’re the biggest risk for any team (ask the Yankees right now). Even last year, such a successful one for Minnesota, a number of key-players spent time sidelined, like Byron Buxton, Nelson Cruz, Mitch Garver, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sanó, to name a few. But due to the impossibility of predicting injuries, let’s talk about things that could go wrong productivity-wise – like in 2018.

The Twins rotation looks stable, with the returns of Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda, as well as with the signings of Rich Hill and Homer Bailey and the trade for Kenta Maeda. At the same time, most people logically consider it the potential Achilles heel of this group. That’s why we chose to focus on it in this article. Here are some things that could get in the way of starting pitching success for the Twins:
  • José Berríos is definitely the Twins best starter. But last year he did show some signs for concern. Patrick Wozniak wrote about the problems he’s encountered as of late, including the decrease in his velocity and late-season struggles.
  • Although Hill represents a potentially huge upside, especially for October baseball, there’s very little evidence that his health will not be an obstacle for that. By the time of his signing, a lot of people even wondered if he would be able to pitch at all, given his age and injury track record.
  • Bailey has had a really rough last five and a half years in the majors. He’s dealt with several health issues, which ended up leading to to surgeries, including a Tommy John Surgery in 2015. Ever since, he’s never been the same good pitcher he was before 2013. In the four seasons before last year he had pitched 231 2/3 innings, with a 6.25 ERA and a 5.13 FIP. How he could represent an improvement over what the Twins got from Martín Pérez or Kyle Gibson last year is still uncertain.
  • Maeda’s career splits between home and away games is considerable. His ERA as a starter goes from 3.16 pitching at Dodger Stadium to 4.70 away from it. He also displayed increases in his FIP (3.46 to 4.06) and OPS (.634 to .718) splits. Moving from the seventh most pitcher-friendly ballpark in baseball to the thirteenth in the same category (not to mention the colder weather) may cause him some trouble.
I can’t stress this enough: I do not think most of these are happening. This is just a hypothetical worst-case scenario, just so people won’t be blindsided because of all the optimism generated by the good offseason, like I was in the beginning of 2018. Speaking of which, I ask the most important question: what is the difference between now and then? Is there an effective way the Twins could avoid that same outcome this year?

In my opinion, yes. Should elements of this very unlikely catastrophe take place, the Twins this year have a much greater rotation depth than two years ago. Randy Dobnak is a prime candidate to have a good year, especially because of the early absences of both Pineda and Hill. Besides him, Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe and Sean Poppen are also in pursuit of their big break and have shown good signs last year.

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#2 Dantes929

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Posted 01 March 2020 - 09:58 PM

I don't necessarily agree that Berrios is definitely the best starter. I liked some of the break I have seen on his curve ball this spring and think he could be the best starter but last year I had more faith in Odorizzi to give us a good start. The plus with Berrios was he could go longer but that means less with a bullpen of guys with sub 3.5 ERAs.Maybe it still pushes him slightly ahead but not in the definite territory in my book.I hope he changes my mind this year.

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#3 twins_89

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Posted 01 March 2020 - 11:59 PM

I am fairly confident in the rotation depth for the regular season. The Twins have enough starter options to rack up a lot of wins even if some of the pieces don't work out. A more relevant question is do the Twins have the rotation quality to compete against the top teams in a playoff series.

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#4 mikelink45

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 12:27 AM

One concern I have is the fact that Thorpe is still missing.This was his biggest opportunity and he is gone.I do not know the personal reasons, but both he and the team are losing out.I am also concerned about Romero missing out on a key opportunity for the BP.  

 

ST will continue to be interesting and SP will continue to be the big story.


#5 Richard Swerdlick

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 04:34 AM

I know it was only a Spring Training start, but Chacin did not exactly inspire confidence.


#6 theBOMisthebomb

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 06:17 AM

At least the Twins have some legitimate options if things go off script with the starting staff. If memory serves, the cupboard was rather bare for rotation depth in 2018. Having Pineda and Hill waiting in the wings provides at least some peace of mind.
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#7 VivaBomboRivera!

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 07:01 AM

Too much of anything isn't good for you, except pitching, and then too much is barely enough!

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#8 Linus

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 07:41 AM

They should be able to find 5 guys out of all their choices. My biggest concern is they ride the veteran guy even though he is not performing.
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#9 howieramone2

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 08:05 AM

Including Thorpe we have 10. Our farm system is intact, so we can deal for the hot hand at the deadline.
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#10 Doctor Gast

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 08:05 AM

Very interesting article but I disagree that last year was a inferior rotation. When the BP were pitching over their heads the rotation were able to pitch fantastic but when Blake folded, the BP folded which the rotation had to pitch extended innings. Pineda & Odorizzi were kept on limited innings so they fared better. But Gibson & Perez were not when the desperately needed to be so their #s took a nose dive through out the 2nd half. All because we didn`t have the pitching depth to plug in young arm which were ready. 

 

Too much of anything isn't good for you, except pitching, and then too much is barely enough!

- W.C. Fields

This year we should have plenty of depth. The rotation should have plenty of rest. But I share your concerns. Hill has the stuff if his treatment is successful. Those who think that Maeda will transform into an impact pitcher that`ll pitch constantly 7 innings are delusional, besides all he`ll need to adapt to in coming here. I don`t have much faith in Bailey or Chasin


#11 saviking

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 10:01 AM

Just read that Thorpe is back in camp .. This may be the best depth the Twins have ever had ...


#12 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 10:08 AM

I have confidence that the 2019 and 2020 Twins have something special going on as a team. There are up to date training and data retrieval systems in place. There are encouraging signs that the coaches are able to help players achieve improvement. The veterans are also teachers, as well as innovators themselves.Plus I do not ever recall so many Twins' players being interviewed, saying that the goal is to win the World Series. That generates positive energy, when all individuals are working together for a common team goal. When one player is injured, I fully expect another to step up and take the injured player's place.

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#13 ATL_TWINK

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 11:28 AM

 

I don't necessarily agree that Berrios is definitely the best starter. I liked some of the break I have seen on his curve ball this spring and think he could be the best starter but last year I had more faith in Odorizzi to give us a good start. The plus with Berrios was he could go longer but that means less with a bullpen of guys with sub 3.5 ERAs.Maybe it still pushes him slightly ahead but not in the definite territory in my book.I hope he changes my mind this year.

 

Berrios is clearly the best starter, and the most valuable player on the team maybe.Odorizzi had a career year last year and he still couldn't get through 6 innings.PECOTA projects him almost a full run worse in ERA this year.

 

Pineda is closer to being better than Berrios than Odo.


#14 JLease

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 11:30 AM

I feel much better about our rotation depth this year than last year. there are still question marks, but that's normal for most teams and there are enough options that if some of them bust we have other avenues to try. I feel like the FO has done a good job in making sure the floor should be high. If Dobnak, Smeltzer, and/or Thorpe see significant time this year it doesn't feel like one of those "Oh, God!" moments. (If all three of them are in the rotation at the end of the season...then we almost certainly got hit by a bad rash of injuries and that's just the way it goes sometimes)

 

 


#15 Twins_Fan_For_Life

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 01:05 PM

I think one thing that makes this pitching staff so scary is not necessarily how good or deep the rotation is, but how good and deep the bullpen is. The starters won't have to go seven innings.

#16 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 01:08 PM

The Rotation floor is high. The question is how low is the ceiling? Where we lack SP depth is in guys who are/should be good enough to start a Playoff game and give us 5-6 innings of 3 runs or less ball. that's the minimum standard in my mind. We start out with as many as 4 probables/more likely possibles in Berrios, Odorizzi, Pineda and Maeda, and a bunch of wild cards. Is that going to be enough with injuries, regressions, ineffectiveness, etc.?Maaaaybee.  


#17 SteelDodo

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 01:09 PM

In addition to the depth of our rotation, which I think the majority of fans agree is in a good spot (or at least that it is better than it has been recently), the reasonable expectation of the quality of our starters is significantly higher than it was at this point last year.

 

For our returning three:

  • Pineda going into 2020 has higher expectations than going into 2019, when we was coming off a lost year due to injury.
  • Odorizzi going into 2019 our ~#4 starter last year. Whereas now, he is coming off of an all star season.
  • Berrios is another year older. Personally, I am more confident in a 25 (soon to be 26) Berrios than I was in a 24 year old Berrios.

http://www.startribu...hart/507648272/

 

I think Maeda > Gibson (who was our #2 starter going into last year).

 

I also think that the expectation of the winner of or combination of Chacin/Smeltzer/Thorpe/Dobnak will be higher than it was for Perez going into 2019, where he was coming off a season in which the Rangers demoted him into the bullpen.

 

(not to mention the possible contributions by Hill)

 

I wouldn't by any means call the rotation dominant, but our rotation was #9 in baseball last year (according to ERA). I think that it could plausibly be even higher this year.


#18 prouster

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 01:25 PM

I am fairly confident in the rotation depth for the regular season. The Twins have enough starter options to rack up a lot of wins even if some of the pieces don't work out. A more relevant question is do the Twins have the rotation quality to compete against the top teams in a playoff series.


This is pretty much where I’m at. Their rotation looks solid, but I expect they’ll add someone (hopefully significant) at the trade deadline.

#19 Thrylos

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 05:07 PM

They have a lot of depth for sure.Like they can put bodies there if someone is hurt or unavailable. Not sure whether their top 2 starters can win games 1,2,5,6 in a post-season against other contenders' starters.

 

Here are the Twins' starters career MLB ERAs against opponents with a winning record:

 

Dobnak 2.77 (sample size = 5)
Pineda 4.10
Odorizzi 4.14
Chacin 4.21
Hill 4.31
Smeltzer 4.40 (sample size = 6)
Maeda 4.41
Berrios 5.17
Bailey 5.27
Thorpe 8.44 (sample size = 4)

 

Not.A.Pretty.Picture.

 

Berrios melts down against good teams.Your 3 best bets have 4.10 ERA in those circumstances. 

There are the ERAs against teams with records better than .500 of some of the pitchers they Twins will be facing in the post-season

 

Kershaw 2.41
Cole 2.90
Stripling 3.23
Buehler 3.24
Scherzer 3.33
Strasburg 3.50
Greinke 3.65
Verlander 3.72
Corbin 3.80
Paxton 3.87

 

Other than injuries or miracles, the Twins' rotation does not look competitive in the post-season.That's why they need to get one or two pitchers in the deadline who can compete with other teams' 1s and 2s...

 

 

 

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#20 howieramone2

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 06:38 PM

We can win the World Series and not face half those guys. What is their post-season ERA's?



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