As 2014 draws to a close, we are now officially less than 100 days away from Opening Day of the 2015 Major League Baseball season. Take a second to let that sink in, baseball is almost back, and it’s a beautiful thing. For the Minnesota Twins, the starting rotation will be one of the most integral parts of success in the new year. With Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, and Ricky Nolasco bolstering the top of the rotation, the question is, who brings up the back-end?
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Despite leaving him out of my initial rotation projection, I think it’s safe to assume that Kyle Gibson is a lock for the 4th spot in the Twins starting rotation. As a former 1st round pick for the Twins, Gibson had plenty of excitement built around him when he was initially promoted in 2013. Despite mixed results last season (4.47 ERA, 1.310 WHIP, and 5.4 K/9), he showed promise for stretches throughout the season.
Sep 17, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcherKyle Gibson
(44) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Gibson doesn’t project as a pitcher who will ever blow guys away, and he likely isn’t ever going to touch 200 strikeouts in a season, but he has plenty of tools. With a good grasp of the strike zone (just 2.9 BB/9 in 2014) and a still developing knowledge of major league hitters, it is fair to assume that 2015 could be the year Kyle Gibson takes his biggest leap forward. After posting an ERA of 4.47 a season ago, I don’t think it’s unfair to assume that Gibson could be in the high 3’s or low 4’s when 2015 comes to an end.
With four of the five starting spots now accounted for, the question becomes, who lays claim to that coveted fifth and final spot of the rotation? There is a handful of options, each with qualified resumes of their own, let’s take a look.