Minnesota Twins 2016 Opening Day Starter: Case for Ervin Santana
No ace for the Minnesota Twins? No problem. Ervin Santana will do fine
With no clear-cut ace of the staff, and Spring Training now underway, it seems as good a time as any to speculate about potentially the hottest topic of them all for the Minnesota Twins: the rotation.
Or more specifically, who should be the Opening Day starter.
Our own Daniel Phyle recently made the argument for third-year starter Kyle Gibson to be the opener, with some valid points regarding Gibson’s potential for 2016.
However, what’s a story without a little friendly debate? I wouldn’t be disappointed with Gibson as the choice eventually, but his second half of the season saw an ERA of 5.22 making me believe he may not yet be ready to become “the guy.”
That is why I am of the belief the starter who should go up against the Baltimore Orioles should be Ervin Santana.
If you’re looking for a case for Santana, look no further than the last seven starts of the season. Expectedly, it did take Santana, who was coming fresh off of an 80-game suspension for using PED’s, a little while to truly find his form.
When the Twins were fighting for their playoff lives toward the end of the season, there were two pitchers who really delivered in the final month of the season. One was Tyler Duffey and the other was Santana.
Duffey was terrific after a shaky start to the season where he surrendered six runs to the Toronto Blue Jays’ video game-esque offense. The rest of the way Duffey gave up three runs only once and two runs or less the rest of the way.
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However, that was only Duffey’s first stint in the big leagues and the Twins probably don’t want to the put the pressure of being the staff ace that soon on him.
To end the season, Santana delivered seven straight quality starts, surrendering two runs or less in each of them while striking out 47 batters.
And while there’s no guarantee of future success based on the past, it’s clear Santana has the stuff to carry a team, especially if said team has a pitching staff made up of what most experts believe to be No. 2 or No. 3 starters at best.
Santana has the experience and would probably embrace the opportunity to be the Twins staff ace, especially following his final stretch run last season.
Also, a rotation with Santana as No. 1 would allow him to start against the Kansas City Royals, a team he pitched very well against last season. This could potentially give the Twins a shot at something that has eluded them for the past few seasons; a strong start in the first few weeks of the season.
Sure it’s a long season, but it was a rough start last year that ended up being a difference maker for the Twins in the Wild Card hunt. And who knows, maybe a better start will push the Twins past the hump and into the playoffs.