Grading the Twins: The Starting Arms

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In a continuation of breaking down the Twins 2014 output, we have taken a look at all of the position players, but now the focus turns to a much more pivotal position. With the Twins, offense hasn’t been a problem in 2014. After all, Minnesota scored more runs than the AL East winning Baltimore Orioles. The issue has been with pitching, and today, we take a deeper look.

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Again in 2014, the Minnesota Twins used far more players in the starting rotation than they would have hoped to, especially considering the signings of both Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco this offseason. Here are all of the guys who started this season for the Twins:

Right off the bat, we will excuse Correia and Deduno from the discussion as neither are a member of the Twins organization any longer. Also, Swarzak made spot starts at the end of the year, but his grade will fall amongst the relievers. Alright, let’s get into it.

Phil Hughes was everything the Twins thought he would be this season. Finally getting away from Yankees Stadium, Hughes was able to find success in a real ballpark. He set a new major league record and pitched to a 16-10 record with a 3.52 ERA over 32 starts. Hughes will head into 2015 being the Twins unquestioned ace, and he should be. A

Kyle Gibson pitched his first full major league season, and handled himself like an up and coming player. There were glimpses of success, and very ugly outings as well. Gibson had unbelievable splits in wins and losses, pitching to an ERA under 1.00 when getting a win, while being completely off the tracks in losses. He will look to stabilize things further next season. C+

The Twins biggest free agent signing in franchise history, Rick Nolasco, had a forgettable first season with the Twins. Regression was to be expected coming from the National League, but an ERA of 5.38 and only 115 strikeouts with a .316 average against isn’t going to get it done. Nolasco will rebound some, but he needs to be right around a 4.00 ERA in 2015 at worst. D-

When you have minor league fodder like Yohan Pino making 11 major league starts, you know you are in trouble. Pino’s ERA ended at 5.07, and while he had some mediocre outings, he never was going to be expected to be a contributor. If the Twins are going to compete next year, Pino needs to stay on the farm for good. D

Showing glimpses of success, Trevor May was able to turn some things around at the end of the season. Despite still getting knocked around, May was able to record 10 strikeouts against the White Sox on September 14. Control is the toughest thing for a young pitcher to master, but look for the experience to prove beneficial for May in 2015. C-

After coming over for Sam Fuld, Tommy Milone didn’t give the Twins much in 2014. He is a big league quality starter who wasn’t able to get it done in 2014. He provides great organizational depth, despite what his statistical output suggests this past season. C

Mike Pelfrey still haunts the Twins as the signing they never should have made. Injuries and poor pitching marred his 2014 season and that is noted by his 7.99 ERA through only five starts. Pelfrey is probably at the end of the line, and may have to hope for the bullpen next season. F

Logan Darnell found himself starting four games for the Twins. While he isn’t Yohan Pino, he isn’t much more either. He could turn out to be a respectable 5th starter down the line, but the Twins likely won’t want him starting games next season. D-

Despite being a veteran Kris Johnson made most of his starts in Triple-A this past season. In his three starts for the Twins, he pitched to a 4.73 ERA. Johnson has the ability to be a spot starter in the future, but he likely isn’t going to crack even the Twins rotation and time soon. C-

Stay tuned as we round out our grades with the bullpen being the next group of players to be looked at.

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