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    Nick Nelson

    Over the six-year period from 2011 through 2016, during which the Twins won at a miserable .419 clip and finished last in the division four times, here's how many times a starting pitcher under the age of 27 threw 100-plus innings with a better than average ERA: one.

    Scott Diamond, in 2012, posted a fluky 3.54 ERA over 27 starts at age 25. He fizzled out after one more big-league season and is now pitching in Korea.

    Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson, USA Today

    Minnesota rotations of the last half-decade have featured a couple of impressive veteran campaigns and few other positives. For an organization with such emphatic focus on acquiring and developing young arms to receive not one convincing standout season from a youthful starter over such a span is damning. It also tells you all you need to know about the club's perpetual run prevention problems.

    In this light, what we've seen from Jose Berrios and Adalberto Mejia over the past week has been borderline revelatory. It's important to not get carried away on the basis of three starts, but there's plenty of legitimate reason for encouragement.

    Obviously, Berrios has been nothing short of incredible in two starts since rejoining the team. He has gone 7.2 in both turns, and the only run scored against him came on a wild pitch. Opponents have not been able to muster anything against his blazing heater and bendy breaking balls. This is the player we expected based on Berrios' mastery of the minors and truly special pitch arsenal.

    He obviously won't sustain an ERA below one, and he may not ultimately pan out as a true No. 1 type, but Berrios is clearly becoming more comfortable and doesn't turn 23 for a few more days. After generating some doubt with a disastrous debut in 2016, the Puerto Rican righty is regaining his status as a rotation building block that the Twins sorely need.

    He may be joined by Mejia, who picked up his first big-league victory in the second half of Sunday's double-header with a strong effort against the Royals. The southpaw had a couple of pitches tail into the sweet spot of Salvador Perez's righty bat and leave the yard, but was otherwise exceptional, cruising through seven innings on 89 pitches while throwing 67 percent strikes.

    Mejia doesn't have the lofty ceiling of Berrios, but seems to have a pretty high floor, which might have factored into the Twins surprisingly handing him a rotation spot out of camp. The left-hander's erratic April audition in the rotation was quite uncharacteristic, and on Sunday he looked much more like the pitcher his numbers advertise. The guy with a 1.21 WHIP and 86-to-19 K/BB in 93 innings at Triple-A.

    If he's throwing his mid-90s fastball and mid-80s slider for strikes, and getting anything from his changeup, Mejia has a reliable formula for success. He executed the plan on Sunday, as he did in four starts for Rochester during his demotion. He turns 24 next month.

    Pitching is the currency of baseball – more specifically, young and controllable pitching. The Twins have been bankrupt in this area for entirely too long, leading to the destitute state that triggered a front office overhaul. But Berrios and Mejia are harbingers of a shifting tide, and on another note of optimism, Twins Daily's No. 2 prospect Stephen Gonsalves finally made his season debut at Chattanooga on Saturday, tossing four solid innings while easing back into action.

    Gonsalves missed the first six weeks rehabbing a sore shoulder, but all signs point toward him being back at full strength. If he picks up where he left off with the Lookouts last year (8-1 with a 1.82 ERA following a June promotion) he'll quickly be in the mix as an option for the Twins. Same goes for his Double-A rotation-mate and fellow 22-year-old Fernando Romero, who has been inconsistent but is most importantly healthy. He possesses the ability to get on a roll at any time, and is already on the 40-man roster.

    It's been a long time since the Twins have had such volume of available or tangibly close good young arms. And given the state of their rotation, the timing couldn't be better.

    Mejia's redemptive performance on Sunday followed a deflating one from Phil Hughes, who lasted only four innings while coughing up five runs on three homers. It was his third straight crummy start, and afterward the veteran landed on the disabled list with shoulder discomfort. He'd been throwing with the lowest velocity of his career and allowing loud contact at an extraordinary rate, so at this stage there's no evident beneficial impact from offseason shoulder surgery. In fact, Hughes spoke after the game of a "dead feeling" very similar to the symptoms that led to his thoracic outlet syndrome diagnosis. Quite troubling.

    Fortunately, the budding emergence of Berrios and Mejia enables the Twins to give Hughes a break without worrying too much. It also lessens the urgency of a successful return for Kyle Gibson on Monday night, though that would certainly help.

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    Well, I think it's too soon for Gibby coming back, but there really aren't too many other options.  I wish him well, cuz we need another guy to step up.  Maybe he got his head cleared a little down there in Roch.

     

    That said, I think a couple of the relievers got their heads cleared a little, too, watching their BP mates get DFA'd.  A little extra incentive, maybe, and perhaps Gibby picked up on some of that, too.

     

    Quick edit-  I still don't know what to make of the Wilk Era- he's got some good stuff, but then again, so does Tonkin.  Maybe keep him around, but I'd be just fine if that Era was already over, too.

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    The end is near for Phil Hughes.  If he can't generate swings and misses with his fastball, he's done.

     

    But, good article.  The Twins finally generating some young pitching, after how many long years?

     

    The cumulative return from Denard Span and Ben Revere trades = one year of May?  And, maybe Busenitz.

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    I think any optimism regarding Mejia is premature. It is just one okay start. There really isn't anything that says that he is different than Gibson or Duffey when they were coming up.

    I hope that Mejia is successful though. That would certainly answer a lot of questions about the future though.

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    I believe Mr Hughes is saving face and asking for a DL spot - so we should be so kind as to give it to him.  Move on!

    Done so after yesteday's game.  10-day disabled list with shoulder discomfort.

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    Well, I think it's too soon for Gibby coming back, but there really aren't too many other options.  I wish him well, cuz we need another guy to step up.  Maybe he got his head cleared a little down there in Roch.

     

    That said, I think a couple of the relievers got their heads cleared a little, too, watching their BP mates get DFA'd.  A little extra incentive, maybe, and perhaps Gibby picked up on some of that, too.

     

    Quick edit-  I still don't know what to make of the Wilk Era- he's got some good stuff, but then again, so does Tonkin.  Maybe keep him around, but I'd be just fine if that Era was already over, too.

     

    I'm not actually hating Wilk in that mop-up/long relief role....That being said, they need to make a decision on Justin Haley.  Either ship him back, or figure out what they need to trade in order to send him to AAA.  At this point, he's taking up a roster spot better served by the likes of Burdi.

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    With Gonsalves likely not available this year and Romero posting a WHIP >1.5 in AA I don't really see much more help showing up soon. The only promising starters in AAA are Nik Turley (who just got there from AA) and Aaron Slegers whose stats this year are, um, not terrible.

     

    The sky is falling. We really need Gibson to pull it together. I wonder if he was able to get anything straightened out in AAA in his short stay. I suppose we'll find out real soon.

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    With Gonsalves likely not available this year and Romero posting a WHIP >1.5 in AA I don't really see much more help showing up soon. The only promising starters in AAA are Nik Turley (who just got there from AA) and Aaron Slegers whose stats this year are, um, not terrible.

     

    The sky is falling. We really need Gibson to pull it together. I wonder if he was able to get anything straightened out in AAA in his short stay. I suppose we'll find out real soon.

    Slegers has had great results when he hasn't had terrible results. He's been very Jekyll and Hyde from start to start. I'm curious what has been the difference in terms of run prevention because he's given up a fair amount of hits even in his good starts.
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    Slegers has had great results when he hasn't had terrible results. He's been very Jekyll and Hyde from start to start. I'm curious what has been the difference in terms of run prevention because he's given up a fair amount of hits even in his good starts.

    Except for the 6-inning no-hitter in his first 2017 outing. :) And his two most recent starts were 3 hits in 7.1 innings, and 5 hits in 8 innings.

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    Since it appears at this time we will be in the hunt, I would package several of our AA arms to get a proven starting pitcher prior to the trade deadline. 

    I don't know if this is sarcasm or serious, but it's exactly the move that ruins a rebuild. They're in the hunt for the division right now, but Cleveland is going to get hot at some point and Detroit could put together a run as well. Even if the Twins were to win the division they're in line to continue their inability to win a single game in a postseason series. They are not 1 pitcher away from being a legitimate WS threat. They are 2-3 starters, and an entire bullpen, away. Trading any prospects this year would be a disaster and most likely lead to 5 more years of awful baseball like we've seen for far too long already.

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    Since it appears at this time we will be in the hunt, I would package several of our AA arms to get a proven starting pitcher prior to the trade deadline. 

    Compare the Twins schedule for April and May to June and July; the AL Central is supposed to be a weaker division than the others. Over the next couple of months we face the Orioles twice, Astros twice, Yankees, Dodgers, RedSox, Indians twice and others who can probably be considered better than teams they have faced multiple times already. I think we need to see what the current collection (and hopefully a few new young relievers) can do versus better competition before giving up prospects for a run at the playoffs. 

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    I don't know if this is sarcasm or serious, but it's exactly the move that ruins a rebuild. They're in the hunt for the division right now, but Cleveland is going to get hot at some point and Detroit could put together a run as well. Even if the Twins were to win the division they're in line to continue their inability to win a single game in a postseason series. They are not 1 pitcher away from being a legitimate WS threat. They are 2-3 starters, and an entire bullpen, away. Trading any prospects this year would be a disaster and most likely lead to 5 more years of awful baseball like we've seen for far too long already.

    Trading for a starter ruins a rebuild?  Trading any prospects would be a "disaster," and "lead to 5 more years of awful baseball?"

     

    I think you have that backwards.  "We're going to do this the right way,"  (i.e. NOT trading anything from the minor leagues) is one significant cause of the awful baseball.

     

    If, indeed, they are 2-3 starters away, trading for one, now, seems like a good way to get going on finding them. 

     

    The other option is to do nothing.  That's not an acceptable strategy.  Not for now, and not for later.  

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    I don't know if this is sarcasm or serious, but it's exactly the move that ruins a rebuild. They're in the hunt for the division right now, but Cleveland is going to get hot at some point and Detroit could put together a run as well. Even if the Twins were to win the division they're in line to continue their inability to win a single game in a postseason series. They are not 1 pitcher away from being a legitimate WS threat. They are 2-3 starters, and an entire bullpen, away. Trading any prospects this year would be a disaster and most likely lead to 5 more years of awful baseball like we've seen for far too long already.

    People said the same thing about the Royals.

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    Compare the Twins schedule for April and May to June and July; the AL Central is supposed to be a weaker division than the others. Over the next couple of months we face the Orioles twice, Astros twice, Yankees, Dodgers, RedSox, Indians twice and others who can probably be considered better than teams they have faced multiple times already. I think we need to see what the current collection (and hopefully a few new young relievers) can do versus better competition before giving up prospects for a run at the playoffs. 

     

    Hell, all we have to do is stop playing Kansas City and we're a sub .500 team.

     

    The price to play right now is likely so high, it's best to ride this out another month and see where we stand.

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    Hell, all we have to do is stop playing Kansas City and we're a sub .500 team.

     

    The price to play right now is likely so high, it's best to ride this out another month and see where we stand.

    Just to add to that, the Royals have the worst record in the American League. That's who we're beating up on. (which is still a step above last year)

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    I don't know if this is sarcasm or serious, but it's exactly the move that ruins a rebuild. They're in the hunt for the division right now, but Cleveland is going to get hot at some point and Detroit could put together a run as well. Even if the Twins were to win the division they're in line to continue their inability to win a single game in a postseason series. They are not 1 pitcher away from being a legitimate WS threat. They are 2-3 starters, and an entire bullpen, away. Trading any prospects this year would be a disaster and most likely lead to 5 more years of awful baseball like we've seen for far too long already.

    Read my lips. I'm dead serious.

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    Hell, all we have to do is stop playing Kansas City and we're a sub .500 team.

     

    The price to play right now is likely so high, it's best to ride this out another month and see where we stand.

    One of the laws of baseball, is you can only beat the teams you play. 

    Edited by howieramone2
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    Trading for a starter ruins a rebuild?  Trading any prospects would be a "disaster," and "lead to 5 more years of awful baseball?"

     

    I think you have that backwards.  "We're going to do this the right way,"  (i.e. NOT trading anything from the minor leagues) is one significant cause of the awful baseball.

     

    If, indeed, they are 2-3 starters away, trading for one, now, seems like a good way to get going on finding them. 

     

    The other option is to do nothing.  That's not an acceptable strategy.  Not for now, and not for later.

     

    But who would you trade and what could you get? Last year, Anderson Espinoza, one of the top prospects, got a damaged Drew Pomeranz. The Twins don't have anyone rated as highly as Espinoza and a Drew Pomeranz isn't worth it for this team. A collection of lower rated prospects isn't going to increase the return. The only prospect that might interest other teams is Nick Gordon, but the Twins would be better off keeping Gordon and trading Dozier. Jay, Gonsalves, Romero, Burdi all might get something, but it's not going to move the dial much. The bigger play is to hope they all keep developing and reward the team in future years.

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    Romero and Gonsalvez may not be ready, but it sure seems the potential is there. Slegers has looked good, for the most part, but inconsistency for a young pitcher seeing AAA for the first time is not unexpected. Berrios and Mejia could be fixtures for the remainder of the season.

     

    The team also has the finances to make a FA signing in the off-season.

     

    Despite such a fun and good start to the season, this remains a mostly young and rebuilding team. I wouldn't make a trade at this time.

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    But who would you trade and what could you get? Last year, Anderson Espinoza, one of the top prospects, got a damaged Drew Pomeranz. The Twins don't have anyone rated as highly as Espinoza and a Drew Pomeranz isn't worth it for this team. A collection of lower rated prospects isn't going to increase the return. The only prospect that might interest other teams is Nick Gordon, but the Twins would be better off keeping Gordon and trading Dozier. Jay, Gonsalves, Romero, Burdi all might get something, but it's not going to move the dial much. The bigger play is to hope they all keep developing and reward the team in future years.

    Fair points.

     

    I do, however, believe there is a deal out there that can help this team. Obviously they're not trading for a top line starter. Maybe take on money, find a situation where someone with talent needs a fresh start.

     

    And don't let trading away a prospect or two stand in the way. Fortune favors the bold.

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    Fair points.

    I do, however, believe there is a deal out there that can help this team. Obviously they're not trading for a top line starter. Maybe take on money, find a situation where someone with talent needs a fresh start.

    And don't let trading away a prospect or two stand in the way. Fortune favors the bold.

    Jeff Samardzija seems to be available every year for just that purpose. One year, some supposed genius even traded Addison Russell for him. He's probably available now to a team willing to take his salary. However, he's never helped anybody win anything. The Brewers' trade for CC Sabathia is probably the best outcome, and they had to give up a higher-rated player than the Twins have, along with Brantley and two other players - and they still bombed out of the first round of the playoffs. The Royals got Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist, but that was a unique team and probably had a better chance to make the World Series. They're paying for it now.

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