Minnesota Twins Pitching Battles to Keep an Eye on This Spring: Starters Edition
Trevor May looks to be a future #2 man in the rotation. He throws a heavy ball (94-96 mph), changes speeds with both a decent change and curve, and has a sinker that needs improving, but also has a devastating slider that induces a higher average of ground balls than most other pitchers who throw the same pitch.
He is a good strikeout pitcher, though a little unusual since his velocity is average. His four-seamer has the movement pitching coaches love, missing more bats than other pitchers with same velocity. His velocity did jump when pitching as a reliever, going from an average of 92 mph as a starter, to 95-96 as a reliever.
His ERA splits were 4.48 (16 starts)/3.25 (32 relief appearances), so on the surface it would seem that Molitor and pitching coach Neil Allen would keep May as a reliever, serving as a 7th/8th inning bridge to the closer. While he may end up as a starter within the next year, the lack of quality relievers on the staff will probably keep him in the bullpen this year.
The final candidate for the rotation is veteran Ricky Nolasco. He’s pitching in the 3rd year of his 4 yr/$49 million contract. Unfortunately, Ricky’s worst two seasons have come pitching as a Twin. He also has been battling injuries since coming over. He also has never been a reliever after his rookie season with the Marlins 10 years ago.
Next: Minnesota Twins Opening Day Starter: Case for Kyle Gibson
His overall numbers are on a downward trend, never good for a pitcher who is 33 and entering his 11th season as a major leaguer. Unless Nolasco surprises during Spring Training, he probably will serve as a long reliever and spot starter if someone needs to skip a start.
While it looks like this is what the Twins threw out there last year, remember that Ervin Santana missed the first half of last season due to suspension, and Tyler Duffey only made 10 starts. Kyle Gibson had 17 quality starts (same as the Indians Carlos Carrasco), and Mike Pelfrey started 30 games. Ugly stat of the 2015 season: Pelfrey’s 12 quality starts were only 1 more than Santana’s 11, and Santana only pitched the 2nd half. Best news for 2016? We’ll most likely see Jose Berrios pitching at Target Field.
Tomorrow: The Battles for Remaining Relief Roles