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Bringing Order Into the Chaos That Is the Twins Rotation


Injuries have wreaked havoc on Minnesota’s rotation, as Rich Hill, Jake Odorizzi, and Homer Bailey have all spent time on the IL so far. The Twins aren’t unique in this respect, as injuries have been prevalent throughout baseball, but let’s take a look at how the rotation could shake out for the remainder of 2020.I’m going to order this as a traditional one-through-five rotation, starting with the “Twins Ace” at number one and working our way down to number five. Of course, the injuries and upcoming return of Michael Pineda make this exercise a bit tricky, but here it goes.

 

1) Kenta Maeda – 36.2 IP, 1.80 ERA/2.59 FIP, 0.71 WHIP, 29.4 K%/5.1 BB%, 23.6 HardHit%

 

Maeda is the obvious choice as staff ace as he has been dominant since joining the Twins. He’s ultimately been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, has taken a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers, and has looked good in all of his starts. He’s been the only pitcher on the staff to consistently go deep in his starts, pitching less than six innings just twice – in his first start when he wasn’t fully stretched out and in his most recent start which followed his 115 pitch near no-hitter (and he threw five really good innings in both of those starts!).

 

2) José Berríos – 30.1 IP, 4.75 ERA/4.18 FIP, 1.38 WHIP, 25.2 K%/10.7 BB%, 32.5 HardHit%

 

Having Berríos slated ahead of Randy Dobnak will surely annoy some, but it was his last start that gives me confidence in placing Berríos second. After struggling mightily with control in his first five starts and walking 13 batters, Berríos racked up nine strike outs in six innings in his latest start against Milwaukee with only one walk (and gave up just one hit). The unusual ramp up to the season may have thrown Berríos off, but he’s throwing harder than ever (his four-seamer is averaging 94.5 mph compared to 93.1 mph last year) and has enough of a history of past success (and cursed Augusts) to believe he’s turned the corner.

 

3) Randy Dobnak – 30.1 IP, 1.78 ERA/4.08 FIP, 1.02 WHIP, 13.5 K%/5.9 BB%, 36.5 HardHit%

 

The fact that I feel guilty for having Dobnak this low on a Twins rotation that also includes Odorizzi, Hill, Pineda, and Bailey, shows how good Dobnak has been. Injuries have given him an opportunity to continue the amazing run that began last year, and he’s more than made the most of it. Sure, Dobnak doesn’t miss many bats and gives up some hard contact, but his 62.4% ground ball rate more than makes up for that. What keeps him behind Berríos is a combination of not pitching deep into games (he’s only made it through six innings once) and having a profile that should regress. His FIP is in the same neighborhood as Berríos, despite the latter’s early struggles, and his Left-On-Base percentage is currently at an unsustainable 93.3%. His BABIP is also extremely low at .226. Even with some regression, Dobnak is a tremendous asset to the rotation and much more than just a great story.

 

4) Michael Pineda – Has yet to pitch in 2020.

 

One can quibble about the order of the top-three, but they pretty clearly belong at the top. It gets a little murkier from here on out. So much so, that our number four is a pitcher who has yet to throw a pitch in 2020. However, Michael Pineda will return at the end of the month, and the way he was pitching prior to his suspension at the end of last year merits a place ahead of either Hill or Odorizzi, who have both struggled. In his first season back since having both Tommy John-and-knee surgery, Pineda started a bit slowly, but really took off in the second-half. He pitched to a 3.04 ERA (3.55 FIP) and had a 20.2% K-BB% in 53.1 IP and looked like the Twins best starter before being suspended. Hopefully, he can continue his second-half form without too much rust when he rejoins the rotation next week.

 

5) Rich Hill – 7.2 IP, 4.70 ERA/5.63 FIP, 1.30 WHIP, 9.4 K%/12.5 BB%, 32.0 HardHit%

 

The number five spot could be labeled the “whoever’s healthy enough to pitch” slot (or alternately, the bullpen game). With Homer Bailey out for the foreseeable future and Jake Odorizzi on the IL for the second time with a chest contusion after taking a comebacker, it’s currently Rich Hill who fits the bill. Hill has had his own health problems with an IL stint for shoulder fatigue, but it’s his lack of control which might be the most frightening thing for the time being. Hill is coming off of modified Tommy John surgery and has missed very few bats while walking more than he’s struck out. Although he’s now 40-years-old, he was still pitching well last season, so hopefully he’s shaking off the rust and pitching a great game against Cleveland as these words are being published.

 

What do you think? How would you order your ideal rotation? Please leave your comments below!

 

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What other choice do we have?

I'm still surprised they haven't at least added a veteran starter to the 60 man list, like a Chacin type. The only guys in the pool who have started recently are Duran, Colina, Chalmers, and Thorpe (but he's clearly just a long reliever at this point). I do think Duran will get a chance at some point this year, but they could use an arm who could start instead of doing bullpen games every 5 days. 

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Maeda has been all we hoped for. Despite all the SP talent on hand, it could be argued the Dogers didn't know what they had, Johnson seems to have taken his game to a different level.

 

Berrios has been disappointing until his last start. We saw there what he has looked like previously. His only knock has ever been just carrying it over a full season. He started to show that kate in 2019. Just because he isnt already one of tbe best pitchers in all of MLB at this point is a huge mistake to dismiss him.

 

Dobnak is not a stud. His numbers and performance will come down. How could they not? But he is good. He has the build and delivery for endurance. He is smart and knows how to pitch. He is STILL a ROOKIE. He just needs to refine his stuff a bit more to put away a guy a little earlier. He COULD be an innings eater 3 or 4 with a little more time.

 

Pineda has always been good when healthy. He's proved that in the past, and with the Twins last season. And he's been smart enough to adapt his approach. I'm looking forward to him joining the rotation next week.

 

Hill was signed for one more half season in his career. I think he knows this. The Twins are being careful because they also know this.

 

Bailey is done for 2020.

 

How good is this staff with Odorizzi back in a couple of weeks?

 

To me, it's keeping everyone healthy and getting Oddo back, along with Stashak for the stretch.

 

Now, if you want to talk 2021, that is an entirely different discussion. But for 2020, only health stops this staff from being one of the best.

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Which 3 of those pitchers wins a playoff series for the twins? The twins do have a real good set of about 6 - 7 quality pitchers who really supply a ton of depth for a baseball season. However, playoffs are different. Almost every year, except the year Kansas City did it with their bullpen, the team who has won has won it with starting pitching. Pitchers that regularly go 7 innings shortening the games for their bullpens. Every once in awhile they have to throw their bullpen out there for 4 innings or so, but when you have a Scherzer or a Strasburg you know that at least 2 games out of 3 or 4 you won't need the bullpen. Maeda has done great, he never made the Dodgers playoff rotations however because he never really pitched deep into games. Now we are considering him as the Ace? I still think Berrios has more Ace capabilities just due to him showing in the past that he could go 7+ innings.

 

Don't get me wrong, all of these guys have done well, but they don't fit the bill as far as what is usually needed to win in the playoffs. I thought Pineda looked to fitting that role a little last year before the suspension, but hard to say this year what's going to happen when he comes back?

 

Maybe the Twins luck out and get a horse at the deadline. Playoff rotation

 

Horse (Bauer type)

Berrios

Maeda

Pineda

 

Bp Hill, Odorizzi, Dobnak

 

No Horse at the deadline

 

Berrios

Pineda

Maeda

Odorizzi

 

Bp Hill, Dobnak

 

JMO

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Yeah this is a great question for anyone. The fact that Dobnak and probably Maeda(i knew Kenta would be great) are lights out is nice. Berrios is disappointing me very much. He doesnt look like somebody that wants an extension. Hill is probably what he really is. A mentor and spot starter on a really good team. Pineda will make a big difference here in a week or so. Odorizzi is going to have to step up big time. Nobody (The Twins either) is giving him a multi-year deal after this disappointment.

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