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Do the Twins Have Too Many Starting Pitchers for 2023?


Twins Daily Contributor

For multiple offseasons, the Twins' front office has needed to add depth to the starting rotation. Looking ahead to 2023, that may no longer be the case. So, does Minnesota have too many starting pitchers?

Starting pitching depth is vital for any contending team, and the Twins have used a lot of their depth during the current season. In 2022, twelve different pitchers have made starts for the Twins, including eight pitchers who made five or more. 

Top of the Rotation: Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Tyler Mahle
None of these three pitchers were in the Twins system 14 months ago, which speaks to the front office's ability to acquire talent. Minnesota has used Ryan and Gray at the top of the rotation for all of 2022, with each posting an ERA+ of 104 or higher. Mahle's transition from Great American Ball Park to Target Field should help his numbers improve. Gray and Mahle can be under team control next season, while Ryan won't be arbitration eligible until 2025. Barring a significant injury, the Twins will look for these three arms to be at the top of the rotation throughout 2023. 

Returning from Injury: Kenta Maeda, Josh Winder, Bailey Ober, Chris Paddack, Randy Dobnak
Winder and Ober are scheduled to throw bullpen sessions this week with a chance to impact the roster down the stretch. Winder has shown the flexibility to pitch as a starter and reliever, while Ober's appearances have all been as a starter. When healthy, both players have pitched well, so they should be in the mix for a rotation spot next season. 

More prominent question marks surround the other injured pitchers listed above. Maeda is also expected to be ready in September, but he will likely serve in a relief role if he makes it back in 2022. During the 2020 season, Maeda finished runner-up for the AL Cy Young, but there are no guarantees he will return to that form. Paddack likely won't be ready at the onset of the 2023 campaign since he had Tommy John surgery in May. Still, he was terrific during his brief Twins tenure and is under team control through 2024. Dobnak has been dealing with a finger injury for the last two seasons, so there are no guarantees he will be back to 100%. 

Down on the Farm: Jordan Balazovic, Blayne Enlow, Cole Sands, Devin Smeltzer, Simeon Woods Richardson, Matt Canterino, Louie Varland
Minnesota's 40-man roster will be squeezed this winter when the team has to remove players from the 60-day IL. Balazovic, Enlow, Sands, and Smeltzer are all on the 40-man roster, but the team might have some tough decisions to make with some of the names. Balazovic has struggled at Triple-A this year, but he is still considered one of the team's top pitching prospects. Enlow returned from Tommy John surgery this year and has a 3.73 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 41 Double-A innings. Smeltzer saved the starting rotation during the middle portion of the season, while Sands has been limited to fewer than ten big-league appearances in his rookie campaign. 

Woods Richardson, Canterino, and Varland are among a group of prospects that will need to be added to the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 Draft. During his second Double-A stint, Woods Richardson is having a breakout season with a sub-3.00 ERA while holding batters to a .583 OPS. Canterino has dealt with various elbow issues over the last two seasons, but he is dominant when he can pitch. Varland recently was promoted to Triple-A after posting a 3.34 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 105 innings at Double-A. All three pitchers should be added to the 40-man roster this winter, which makes them one step closer to the big leagues. 

The old adage states, "a team can never have too much pitching." It's clear the Twins will have options for the 2023 season, and there is no way to predict how injuries will impact the organization. Another option is to have some of these arms switch to permanent bullpen roles, but that is a decision for this winter. 

Which pitchers will make the most starts for the 2023 Twins? Will any of the younger pitchers be contributors to the rotation? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 


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Given the injury history of all of the starters, plus the current usage of them, coupled with the fact that even before the injury bug really bit the rotation, they were already scrambling at times to fill a starting slot.  That's not going to be fixed in one offseason.  Realistically anyway.  And as the last two seasons should have taught all of us, you can NEVER have too much depth.  

And even if everything played out perfectly and you can't get everyone enough innings, that allows you to trade from that depth to acquire something else of need.

There simply isn't a thing called "too many starting pitchers".

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Remember last year at this time when we were eagerly awaiting the pitching pipeline that was going to pour out numerous good pitchers this year?  You can take any group of minor league pitchers and half won’t make it due to injury or ineffectiveness. You can include Ober in that group as well. 

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Never enough starting pitching is confusing with the Twins in that it is rare they let any starter go past 4 or 5 innings.  None of the pitchers mentioned coming back from injury move the needle much.  The top 3 are good place to start.  After that winder, Dobnak,  and Ober don't move the needle at all.

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LOL no such thing as too much pitching.  Ever.  Well, maybe too much *bad* pitching heh.  The early 1970s Mets and 1990s Braves come to mind.. sure they had enough offense, but it was the pitching that won the day.

And further, I really hope they don't entertain the idea to trade the "excess" starting pitching for some washed up 18-year veteran.

Edited by Avardan
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I've been saying they should move Ober to the pen since last year. I think he could be a great 2 inning reliever, something the Twins really need the way they handle the starters. As I see it now, rotation next year should be Mahle, Gray, Maeda, Ryan, and Winder at least until Paddack is ready. Move Ober to the Pen. Let the others prove themselves in the spring or in the minors.

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This question prompted predictable responses.  Perhaps the question needs to be slightly recast.  How do they manage these 8 guys and any prospects that show they are ready next year.  All 7 of the 8 guys are established major league pitchers and the 8th guy (Winder) showed he belonged during his ML stint.  

Dobnak has 3 options so he could be sent down to re-establish himself.  Paddack won't be back until a point in the season where we will likely need an injury replacement.  Therefore, one of the remaining 6 is a multi-inning RP.  Pretty easy to manage if they start next season with the same personnel.  I hope they sign Rodon and make it just a little more complicated.

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What a humorous idea - maybe the question should be do we have too many pitchers for the 4/5 slot - our top three all fit the number three slot and all the names in the list fall short of number 1 and 2 slot arms.  So we are bottom heavy, top deficient.  

Dobnak is not an arm I would count on at all in the future, Smeltzer has been a good story twice, but the Twins have shown they have no long range plans for him.  Balazovic has become a casualty, Maeda is a question mark.  Winder is the one I like the best of the group, but he seems injury prone - a malady on both offense and defense.  

I have no confidence in Paddack - I still think we have a Bundy/Archer pairing that Rocco the pitching magician has still not figured out.  Put them as piggyback starters - two 4 1/2 inning pitchers take up a full game.

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No they do not have too much starting pitching.  Yes, they have more than 5 but no team ever just uses 5.  Some if needed could get transitioned to pen roll, where many starters end up excelling.  Some will get injured, and some could get traded.  There may be a 40 man roster crunch and you may lose one or two through waivers, but none of the ones you may lose are top of rotation guys.  Smeltzer will be DFA.  Despite having a decent run, he was getting by with smoke and mirrors.  He has high chance of passing through waivers and if not, no huge deal. 

Overall it will work itself out.  Maybe the players will not be as happy about spending time in minors until injuries give them starts, or being in pen, but such is the nature of the game.

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Yup, you can never have too much pitching, especially with all the injuries Twins pitchers have had to deal with these last 3 years or so.  Maybe Canterino is destined for a bullpen role.  But I've got to believe that the Twins would want to get him to the big league club at some point in the not too distant future and protect him a bit by limiting his innings by having him come out of the pen and then after a solid season, like Duran is having, see if he can get over the injury bug hump.

Duran looks awfully good as a dominant BP piece, but with Jorge Lopez now in the fold, along with Fulmer (not sure he will be back, but he's a solid piece, so let's assume he's resigned for a reasonable price) could the Twins consider using Duran as a SP in 2020 ?  I've read on TD several times that the Twins still like his potential as a SP.  He just hasn't stayed healthy.  Canterino is very similar to Duran.  Dominant stuff when healthy...but rarely healthy.  

I think the Twins have Duran, Canterino, Winder and Balazovic as guys with a lot of potential.  And guys like Woods-Richardson and Varland aren't far behind.  With Mahle, Gray, Ryan and Maeda they have a solid #1-#4 and Ober showed some real potential.  I could see Archer even being back next season.  IF...and this is a big if...guys can stay relatively healthy, could you imagine a SP rotation of the 4 guys listed and Ober or Winder and then a BP with Jorge Lopez, Duran and Canterino in the back end with Archer available to give you 3 innings here and there ?  THAT'S pretty intriguing going into next season.  To me, this is why retaining Correa, at least for 2023 is crucial.  He's darn good.  and I think he'll be even better in 2023.  With the continued development of Miranda and a healthy 2023 for Kirilloff and Larnach... (and Lewis) toss in Polanco and Buxton and the Twins will certainly be in the mix and could even knock off a Yankees or Astros in the playoffs.

I think the Twins are positioned to be very good for the near future.  

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Listing 15 pitchers that will need to be on the 40 man roster next season, I think will create an opportunity, not a problem. Outside of the big 3 you list, I'm adding Maeda to Gray, Ryan, and Mahle. That leaves 11 guys to fill 1 spot. That also means that the Twins don't extend Bundy or Archer, both of them have options for 2023. Everyone else in my book becomes trade bait. Even with Gray, Ryan, Mahle and Maeda, there is significant room for improvement. I'd be making moves early in the off-season to get a return on 4 or 5 of these guys instead of taking a chance you lose them in the Rule 5 and get nothing.

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I see no evidence that there is a potential ace among the group. Until the team has a dominant starter instead of a stable of number threes and fours they are pretenders. If they ever get a number one it will be interesting to see if Rocco allows him to pitch more than 5 innings in a game and 150 innings for the year. 

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I'm certainly looking forward to when the Twins have plenty of healthy starters to choose from, but I'm not counting on Paddock for the beginning of the year, and Dobnak is no more an answer than Devin Smeltzer is. 

Even IF Gray, Ryan, Mahle, Maeda, Winder and Ober are healthy and ready to go, I wouldn't be opposed to finding another option that's not currently in the system.

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I see a situation where the Twins need to trade one of the guys towards the end of the list prior to mid-November when they need to make the 40-man adds.  Only problem is we seldom see trades the week or ten days following the World Series.  

Do we have too much starting pitching, No.  But do we need to add to this group, I also say No.  What I see as a need this coming winter is the addition of a couple good relievers as our pen has five very good relievers and three who most would prefer weren't on the team. 

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Cody: What an attention-grabbing title to an interesting article.  I spilled my coffee as I read the title. I really do think this FO deserves a lot of praise for the whole Twins system, which seems to keep on running well, even when the inevitable happens and players get sick or hurt; when prospects don't pan out; walk-off wins and walk-off losses; when covid strikes; when Cleveland ties the Twins for 1st place; when the Evil Empire comes to town and sweeps the "Minnesota nice" players;  and when blue skies of summer turn grey in the fall. All in all, it is a good thing to be a Twins fan and to be a member of the Twins Daily family.

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I'm with MikeLink on this one.  The question isn't whether we have too much starting pitching it's do we have too many bottom of the rotation guys.  I'd say....maybe.

In order to compete, particularly in the playoffs, you need a solid ace and a decent number two.  If you put Ryan on any of the AL projected playoff teams he'd be a three.  Come playoff time you really only need three or maybe only two quality starting pitchers anyway. 

Is it possible we have someone separate themselves from the pack and establish themselves as a top of the rotation guy?  Yes.  I just don't think we've seen any real evidence of that yet.

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Bullpen games

Chi Chi Gonzales 

Andrew Albers, Charlie Barnes

Homer Bailey

Kohl Stewart

Chase DeJong, Turkey, and a host of others

Every year there has been proof you can never start off with too many starters as there is what you have to use through injuries 

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Assuming Joe Ryan is going to work out still seems questionable to me. He's been very good for stretches but gets  exposed by good lineups....he's going to be happy to be leaving the west coast methinks. He's never had dominant stuff which was why he wasn't highly regarded as a prospect and I don't think the possibility can be ignored that the league will figure him out. I'm fine with Sonny Gray as one of their top two or three but I think you have to expect he is going to spend some time on the IL here and there. Mahle will be good in theory pitching in more favorable conditions but he's yet to actually show us anything (and the first start was not encouraging). What's that leave you with? Paddack and Maeda, both coming back from major injuries (and Paddack didn't exactly look like a world beater before that), and to a lesser extent Ober and Winder (who in addition to coming back from lesser injuries haven't proven much yet). I think they need to roll that Correa opt-out money into a higher end starter. Any of Rodon, Eovaldi, or Bassitt would make me happy. Now if Lewis hits another snag with the injury or just isn't mlb SS material by the time he returns they are going to have another problem... but I guess they jump off that bridge when they get there.

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2 hours ago, Karbo said:

I've been saying they should move Ober to the pen since last year. I think he could be a great 2 inning reliever, something the Twins really need the way they handle the starters. As I see it now, rotation next year should be Mahle, Gray, Maeda, Ryan, and Winder at least until Paddack is ready. Move Ober to the Pen. Let the others prove themselves in the spring or in the minors.

I wrote this somewhere else but I'll say it again because I never heard anyone else mention it. Aaron Sanchez accepted the assignment to AAA. Was any consideration given to trying him as a reliever? I realize he only pitched 5 innings for the Twins but he still has good velocity and to my eyes he had an absolutely filthy breaking ball. It had that tight snap that Duffey had back when he was still effective a few years ago....

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