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Can The Twins Fill a Rotation for 2022?


Ted Schwerzler

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Right now, the Minnesota Twins starting rotation is completely turned over. The group that started the 2021 season is gone, and the anchors intended for 2022 are no longer realistic options. So where does the team go from here?

Derek Falvey and Thad Levine already had their work cut out for them going into the winter. The bullpen was nothing short of a disaster this season, and the starting rotation has been lackluster in plenty of different instances. Now faced with the reality that Jose Berrios is gone, and Kenta Maeda is injured, the uphill battle has grown substantially.

Of course, dollars have to, and will be, spent. Before considering the options on the open market, and they are relatively plentiful, looking at who can be an option internally on Opening Day is where we should start. Unfortunately, the names are more plentiful than the logical options you’d hope to ink in.

Bailey Ober

If there’s a guy that’s earned a role among the five openings to kick off 2022 it’s Ober. He’s been lights out of late and now has a sub-4.00 ERA. Ober owns a 2.45 ERA over his last seven starts and he’s posted a 9.3 K/9. The home run bit him hard early, and a 1.8 HR/9 still isn’t great, but that only leaves further opportunity for heightened levels of success. He’s not an ace but pitching himself into the top half of a rotation would hardly be a shock.

Joe Ryan

It’s still surprising the Twins got this type of return for Nelson Cruz, but Ryan has seemed every bit as exciting as you’d hope. Across 66.0 IP at Triple-A this season Ryan owns a 3.41 ERA and has punched out 12.5 K/9. He needs to make his next turn in Minnesota, but regardless, you could do a lot worse than this type of arm as a 5th starter to open the next campaign.

Randy Dobnak

Dobnak has put himself in an interesting situation given the lack of effectiveness and injury issues he’s dealt with this season. Still probably a 4th starter at best, the ceiling really isn’t there in comparison to the two aforementioned arms, and the prospects behind him could close the gap quickly. He’s a great depth guy, but Minnesota can’t afford to fill the rotation with options of this caliber.

Lewis Thorpe

There’s probably a decent chance that Thorpe is dropped from the 40-man roster this offseason. The Twins were granted an additional year of control, but the Aussie hasn’t done anything with it. The velocity has continued to be lackluster, and nothing about the upside that was once there has reappeared. It’s been a disappointing fall through health and personal complications. Either way, this isn’t a viable option.

Griffin Jax

A really great story this season, and one worth keeping in the organization, Jax is a rotational depth piece in my mind. He’s shown that there’s a capable level of stuff to get big leaguers out but relying on him for 30 turns a season could expose Minnesota in a bad way. Jax doesn’t have the high end velocity or strikeout stuff to dominate, but he is a big league arm that can eat innings when necessary.

Charlie Barnes

Of the fringe arms to debut this season for Minnesota, Barnes has been the most underwhelming. His strikeout numbers have never really been anything to write home about and that makes the margin for error at the highest level very slight. Barnes is 25 and hasn’t ever had much in the form of prospect status, but that doesn’t negate the fact he could be a nice depth piece. That’s probably still to be determined, but it won’t be realized in an Opening Day rotation.

The Prospects (Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Matt Canterino, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Drew Strotman, Josh Winder)

Outside of the Ober and Ryan pairing at the top, this is the group the Twins are dreaming on developing some high level arms from. Unfortunately, the majority have either been hurt or are not yet in a place where they’re kicking down the door for a big league promotion. Getting each back to health has to be the chief concern, but beyond that, they’ll need to force their way in. Assuming Minnesota wants to compete, or at the very least be respectable next season, they’ll need to sign a starter for the top of the rotation. Hoping one or more of these arms can then challenge that status sooner rather than later would be the goal.

For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz

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I hope so! I am concerned we are rebuilding, and no one is telling us this. #1 off season priority is signing Buxton. All other priorities should be signing pitching. 

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Going to be tough, before Maeda went down was thinking one FA starter, Maeda, Ober, Ryan Dobnak, with Jax and Barnes as 7,8 type starter. #6 Winder with first opportunity after opening day. I think Twins should be done with Smeltzer and Thorpe. I like Duran in relief for a year. Strotman has not had much success at St. Paul yet. Balazovic and other  prospects need to start in minors. With Maeda potentially out next year, will likely need to sign another FA starter. Would like to see an 1-2# FA and a middle of rotation starter FA. Besides extending Buxton, spend all money on pitching in offseason, will need a couple of relievers as well.

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Of course the Twins will have a rotation for 2022. I expect two pitchers currently within the system to fill the #4 and #5 spots in the rotation. Trades and.or free agent signings will complete the rotation. Good to go for 2022.

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Honestly, everything will depend on how competitive the Twins expect to be next year. When it was reported Maeda expected TJ, that meant the odds for having him back in 2022 were scant. I'd be surprised if Ober and Ryan weren't in the rotation.

Winder could return to the Saints rotation any time if the original 2-3 week reported shutdown proves accurate. I'd think the Twins would be a little extra motivated to see him pitch again this year now that Maeda has gone down.

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I can see the Twins with Ober, Ryan, and Dobnak after that they need to sign 1 top end starter and 1 mid tier starter. Then they give the kids a little more time to prove themselves in the minors. I don't have much confidence that Dobnak will perform well enough to stay in the starter role and we all know Twins pitchers can't seem to stay healthy enough for an entire season. After all that is the bullpen. What a mess! 

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Knowing the kind of free agents that the Twins will actually sign (not pipe dreams), my best guess at the 2022 opening rotation would look something like this:

Johnny Cueto

Eduardo Rodriguez

Jose Quintana

Bailey Ober

Randy Dobnak

World Series experience, cherry-picked stat windows and the super-magical abilities of Wes Johnson will be used as selling tools to the fans.

By mid-May comments like "DFA Quintana now!" and "Why is Rodriguez still in the rotation? Call up [insert prospect with hot start]!" will litter TD.  I'll probably be one of the ones making the comments.  Rinse/Repeat.

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On 8/31/2021 at 12:49 PM, In My La Z boy said:

I hope so! I am concerned we are rebuilding, and no one is telling us this. #1 off season priority is signing Buxton. All other priorities should be signing pitching. 

Rocco literally said the Twins are rebuilding this week, using that exact word. He also said the Twins "don't have the payroll of the Dodgers or Yankees" so can't just spend our way to contention year in and year out. 

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On 8/31/2021 at 3:54 PM, 4twinsJA said:

Going to be tough, before Maeda went down was thinking one FA starter, Maeda, Ober, Ryan Dobnak, with Jax and Barnes as 7,8 type starter. #6 Winder with first opportunity after opening day. I think Twins should be done with Smeltzer and Thorpe. I like Duran in relief for a year. Strotman has not had much success at St. Paul yet. Balazovic and other  prospects need to start in minors. With Maeda potentially out next year, will likely need to sign another FA starter. Would like to see an 1-2# FA and a middle of rotation starter FA. Besides extending Buxton, spend all money on pitching in offseason, will need a couple of relievers as well.

I agree, that’s exactly what they have to have, a 1 a 2 and a 3 or 4. My suggestion was Robbie Ray, Danny Duffy and Michael Pineda. Then Ober and Ryan plus improve the offense by signing a LF like Brantley. Kepler is iffy, I think Kirilloff could do a better job. Brantley, Buxton, Kirilloff in the OF and sign Billy Hamilton or Greg Allen to fill in as a defensive stud when and if Buxton is injured, Kepler 4th OF. Cave gone.

Miranda, ? (feel like spending? Carlos Correa). Arraez, Sano in the IF with Donaldson at DH. Garver/ Jeffers and please keep Nick Gordon, he has a lot of tools and just needs experience.

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I get that we're not a "Big Market Team Like the Dodgers."  We also aren't a "Small Market Team" either.  The Twin Cities is Media market #15 in the nation.  That means only 14 markets are "BIGGER" than the Twin Cities.  We should not have a top 10 payroll.  We also should be nowhere near the bottom 10 either.  Ownership/FO had a chance to spend a little more in 2019 & 2020 when it looked like the pieces were in place to make a run (maybe win a playoff game??).  But with the colossal failure of the FO in the past off-season, some serious money is going to be needed to be spent to begin a reset.  The young arms will never be ready to contribute "enough" in 2022.  Some will do fine, others will struggle and others won't even get a sniff of the major leagues.  Some solid, proven, major league arms need to be added for the immediate future (2022) and to be a 1-3 year bridge as those young arms mature and matriculate up to the big league level.  Any conversations between ownership and the front office that doesn't recognize THIS is setting the Twins up for further failure and frustrations for the fans.  We've seen what the lack of a plan can do with the Afghan withdrawal.  We're going to have to hear some solid "plans/strategy" coming out of our front office this off-season.  Lack of a plan or confronting what the reality of the Twins current situation is not an option.

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1 hour ago, TopGunn#22 said:

We've seen what the lack of a plan can do with the Afghan withdrawal.

Not to get political here, but as an advisor I can tell you there was a plan in place. It wasn't followed. Thats all, now back to your regular programming. 🙂

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Yes. Will the Twins field a good starting rotation? probably not. Definitely not actually.. The only starter I would consider paying "ace money" to is Kevin Gausman. So if that means 5/115 or whatever it is, sure. Other than that, pass on the stromans, rodons, etc .. Could see them dealing Polanco, Arraez, or Jeffers / Garver for a young starter .. Marlins? We'll see .. I like Kwang Hyun Kim as a fit in the more mid tire of starters.

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The Twins should pick up one big time FA starter. Otherwise, they will probably be bottom feeders again and hope to develop some of their young pitchers for sometime in the second half.  Longterm, that latter option could be the best course.  In other words, don’t break the bank to boost a below average team to mere average status. 

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On 9/1/2021 at 1:28 PM, MMMordabito said:

Knowing the kind of free agents that the Twins will actually sign (not pipe dreams), my best guess at the 2022 opening rotation would look something like this:

Johnny Cueto

Eduardo Rodriguez

Jose Quintana

Bailey Ober

Randy Dobnak

World Series experience, cherry-picked stat windows and the super-magical abilities of Wes Johnson will be used as selling tools to the fans.

By mid-May comments like "DFA Quintana now!" and "Why is Rodriguez still in the rotation? Call up [insert prospect with hot start]!" will litter TD.  I'll probably be one of the ones making the comments.  Rinse/Repeat.

All I can say about that rotation is Yuk. They should make an all out play for Robby Ray and as a #2, Danny Duffy. That shouldn’t break the bank but would bring two of the best ERA pitchers to the Twins. Then re-sign Pineda for stability. Final two Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober. Also sign Brantley for LF so the OF is Brantley, Buxton, Kirilloff. Miranda, SS, Arraez, Sano with Donaldson moving further toward the DH told. Jeffers/Garver and Nick Gordon (U). This would all be affordable and show that Twins really want to win. Syndergaard could be a backup for Ray.

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20 minutes ago, Greglw3 said:

All I can say about that rotation is Yuk. They should make an all out play for Robby Ray and as a #2, Danny Duffy. That shouldn’t break the bank but would bring two of the best ERA pitchers to the Twins. Then re-sign Pineda for stability. Final two Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober. Also sign Brantley for LF so the OF is Brantley, Buxton, Kirilloff. Miranda, SS, Arraez, Sano with Donaldson moving further toward the DH told. Jeffers/Garver and Nick Gordon (U). This would all be affordable and show that Twins really want to win. Syndergaard could be a backup for Ray.

All I can say about that fielding is Yuk.

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Eduardo Rodriguez is another LHP I wouldn't mind the Twins making a play for.  He's youngish and has good stuff.  Just need to keep him healthy.  But they will need 2-3 VETERAN SP's for stability and let the young-guns fill out #4 & #5.

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I think they re sign Pineda and get one more comparable vet on a similar contract, no big money 3 years or less.  

Ober and Ryan are first to get shots.

Duran/ Balazovic can claim a spot when they preform.

Strotman, Jax, Canterino, Winder, Dobnak, Thorpe, ect all battle for 4/5

There will be one if not multiple Shoemaker/ Perez type vet signings with a hope that something works out.

Pitching will be bleak with upside next year, hopefully they graduate some real contributors to the rotation because I doubt they will spend the money to do it via free agency. 

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The Twins will sport a very different starting rotation in 2022, one thing we can all agree on. Personally I think they can get by (but not get to the playoffs) with the following team owned starters: 

Joe Ryan - the John McEnroe of baseball. Are you serious??

Bailey Ober - the stingy one with the mystery fastball.

Griffen Jax - our military bulldog. Sic 'em, Griff!

Michael Pineda - more tics than a bird dawg, but the man throws strikes.

Randy Dobnak - want ground beef? Go to store. Want ground ball? Go to Dobs.

Alternatives: John Gant, Jordan BalazovicJhoan DuranDevin Smeltzer

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