If you hadn’t already hopped on the Johnny Cueto bandwagon, then his outstanding performance in last night’s series clinching game five should have given you a front row seat. The eight year vet conquered his demons and captured his first career playoff win, throwing eight innings of near perfect baseball, outside of Valbuena’s two-run home run in the top of the second, while punching the Royal’s ticket to the ALCS for the second straight season. It so happens that Cueto will be a free agent at the conclusion of this postseason, and the Minnesota Twins are one of the top contenders for landing the veteran right-hander in 2016.
Cueto is the veteran ace we need in the playoffs. His career numbers say it all, posting a career era of 3.30 and having won 19+ games twice. In today’s baseball, having a legitimate ace is a necessity, not a luxury, if you wish to advance in October. Just look at the current postseason pitching staffs, every team still alive has at least two work-horses who can take the ball and give you a chance to win on baseball’s grand stage. Not only would that top off our starting rotation and fill an immediate, indispensable need, but taking him away from division champion Kansas City is equally as beneficial for the Twins.
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Ervin Santana (above) can be phenomenal, but he’s not a number one on a legitimate title contender, just not consistent enough. He is however, a fantastic number two who undoubtedly has the ability to win big postseason games. Kyle Gibson is a very respectable number three, as he’s shown improvement every year, and we know Tommy Milone almost always keeps us in ball games. That would leave us either Tyler Duffey or Ricky Nolasco, who would probably only throw out of the pen in the postseason anyway.
Now it’s time to be blunt. Pelfrey (below) and Hughes are made for the bullpen, plain and simple. Both righties have strikeout stuff and throw hard already, with most fastballs being recorded in the mid 90’s, and would increase their velocity even more in relief. Just look at the charge in velocity Trevor May has gotten since he made the switch to the pen. That gives us two more power righties to compliment Jepsen and May, and of course, our All-Star Glen Perkins from the left side. That folks, is a playoff pitching staff and I hadn’t even mentioned the likely debut of the electric Jose Barrios.
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I believe that we are just one move away from making noise in the postseason, and this is that move. With our underrated veteran core of Mauer, Dozier, and Plouffe, combined with our promising youth core of Sano, Rosario, Hicks, and Buxton, we now have a team much comparable to Cueto’s Royals. Last off-season’s pickup of Ervin Santana was tremendous and put us in the right direction, but unfortunately it’s not enough if we want to be a real threat come October. We need one more arm and Cueto is the choice. We have players to deal and enough young talent still on their minor league contracts for another couple years for us to make this move financially, so let’s jump on this opportunity and win now, as well as in the future.
God Bless and Go Twins.