February 17, 2014 is the reporting day for pitchers and catchers in the Twins organization. Some players will head to Florida knowing their roster spot is locked-in while others will toil with wondering what the future might bring. Glen Perkins, the Twins All-Star closer, was the last man I profiled and he is basically guaranteed a spot on the 25-man roster.
This reporting date will also mark a new era for the franchise as the team spent a significant amount of money on free agent pitching for the first time in their history. Minnesota made a large commitment to free agents Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes to help a starting staff that ranked last in ERA and last in strikeouts a year ago.
2013 Recap: 3.70 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 165 SO, 46 BB (199.1 IP)
After spending his entire big league career with the Marlins, Nolasco was traded last July from Miami to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He started the second most games in the National League in 2013 and this helped him to pitch over 190 innings for the third consecutive year. After joining the Dodgers, Nolasco posted an 8-3 record with a 3.52 ERA over 87.0 innings pitched. This included him going 5-0 in the month of August with a 1.64 ERA over six starts. In his eight professional seasons, Nolasco has always played for National League teams and his career .138/.187/.179 batting line will be happy to get out of batting with the switch to the American League.
Forecasting 2014: 4.00 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 138 SO, 45 BB (195.0 IP)
When a pitcher switches leagues in the middle of his career, it is tough to predict how his performance will change. Will his numbers get worse because of the presence of the designated hitter? Will the pitcher have the upper hand because batters have never seen him before? The Twins are going to rely a lot on Nolasco to be a leader for this pitching staff. His goals should be to pitcher over 190 innings for the fourth consecutive year and to try and keep his ERA at 4.00 or lower. Without pitchers batting against him a couple times a game, some of his other numbers will probably change. It should still be a successful first year for Nolasco in Minnesota.
25-Man Roster Safety: Locked-In