Cody Christie Twins Daily Contributor Posted March 1 Share Posted March 1 Many of baseball's all-time great relief pitchers started their careers as starting pitchers. The Twins' 40-man roster is littered with players searching for their long-term roles to find a permanent spot at the big-league level. Image courtesy of Jonathan Dyer, USA TODAY Sports Entering last season, Jhoan Duran had been a starting pitcher for his entire career. A lengthy injury history made the Twins reconsider his long-term role with the club. He was shifted to the bullpen and became one of the team's most valuable assets. Only some players can be as successful in transitioning to the bullpen, but there are multiple players the Twins may consider shifting to a bullpen role during the upcoming season. Josh Winder joined the Twins organization as a seventh-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft from Virginia Military Institute. He made nine starts (38 1/3 innings) in rookie ball after signing and posted a 3.72 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP and 42 strikeouts. During 2019, he spent the year at Low-A and lowered his ERA to 2.65 with a 118-to-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 125 2/3 innings. Winder led the Midwest League in ERA and WHIP during the 2019 season. He was putting himself on the prospect map, but then the pandemic took away a season. Winder added strength during the shutdown and saw his velocity jump coming into 2021. The Twins had Winder skip High-A coming out of the pandemic, which meant he split time between Double-A and Triple-A. Due to injury, his season started in May, but he dominated for Wichita. In 10 games, he had a 1.98 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP with 10.7 K/9. The Twins promoted him to Triple-A, but shoulder fatigue ended his season after four starts at that level. It was a disappointing end to what could have been a breakout season. Season in Review 2022 Last spring, Winder was in the running to win a spot in the starting rotation before the team signed Chris Archer at the end of March. He still made the Opening Day roster to help add depth out of the bullpen. His first five appearances were strong as he limited the opposition to four earned runs in 22 1/3 innings. However, he struggled in his subsequent two appearances and ended up on the Injured List with a right shoulder impingement. He worked his way back to the big-league level, but his shoulder continued to bother him throughout the season. He went on the Triple-A Injury List in July with right shoulder impingement syndrome and didn't throw a bullpen until the middle of August. He returned to the big leagues in September, but the Twins had already fallen out of the division race. Overall, he made 15 appearances with the Twins, and four were out of the bullpen. He posted a 4.70 ERA with a 1.30 WHIP and a 47-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Projections for 2023Winder is coming off a somewhat eventful off-season. His name popped up in trade rumors because he was the initial trade piece requested by the Royals for Michael A. Taylor. Minnesota balked at that request, and Kansas City lowered its asking price to two relievers, Evan Sisk and Steven Cruz. Both pitchers are considered relievers, and this might point to the Twins believing Winder can still be an asset as a starting pitcher. Winder also dealt with shoulder issues as he started ramping up for the season, which means he's a little behind entering camp. Early in his career, Winder's fastball sat in the low 90s, but he averaged 94 mph last season and can hit in the upper-90s. His slider velocity sits in the mid-80s, and he throws this pitch a third of the time. His changeup and curve have helped him to keep big-league batters off-balanced, and his increase in velocity makes those pitches more of a weapon. He pounds the strike zone and limits walks, which can be ideal for a starting pitcher. Summary For 2023, the Twins need to find a way to keep Winder healthy no matter what role he fulfills for the organization. The Twins have worked to alter his mechanics, but his shoulder has been problematic for multiple seasons. During instructional league play in 2020, his velocity was even higher than what he has showcased in big-league action. These totals were in smaller sample sizes, which might indicate the bullpen being his long-term role. His college experience means he will be 26 years old for the entire 2023 season. Winder will start the year on track to be a starter, but his shoulder concerns mean the team should shift him to the bullpen in 2023. Can Winder's shoulder hold up to the rigors of being a starter? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES-Ronny Henriquez View full article Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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