Minnesota Twins vs AL Central: Starting Pitching
4. Minnesota Twins
Sure, the future may put the Twins a few notches higher when the likes of Tyler Duffey and Jose Berrios are mainstays in the rotation but until then, the Twins will be a rotation of five No. 3, possibly No. 2 starters.
Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson and Phil Hughes will be the Twins’ top starters but will next feature the solid, yet inconsistent Tommy Milone, and Ricky Nolasco and his much-publicized health and performance issues.
Last season was a steady improvement over the previous seasons but the one thing the team lacks is that ace. There isn’t a Kluber or a Sale or a Verlander to steady the ship.
Gone are the days of Brad Radke and Johan Santana. Now the question remains, will the team’s staff be enough to make the playoffs and make some noise once there? The Twins are sure banking on it, but this may be the final time we go into a season with questions regarding the staff ace as Berrios will no doubt be waiting in the wings.
Kansas City Royals
The fact that the champs can take this spot is just indicative of how good the rest of the team really is. If this were a list of bullpen rankings, the Royals would arguably take the top spot.
The Royals lost big acquisition Johnny Cueto to free agency and will instead feature Edinson Volquez as the No. 1 starter, followed by Yordano Ventura, Ian Kennedy and Kris Medlen.
Sound underwhelming considering these are the reigning champs? You’re not alone.
But the Royals proved they didn’t need a shutdown staff to win the Series. They ranked 22nd in starter ERA but ended up 10th in total team ERA, which is just a credit to how well their bullpen performed.
It also helped the team got an AL Central-leading 724 runs from the offense.
So do the Royals need the best staff to win the Series? No. Will they have the best staff? Probably not. As the Royals have proven time and time again, as long as the starters keep them in the game heading into the later innings, their offense can take it over while their bullpen shuts the door—Whether it’s a 1-0 game or a 5-all tie.
That is how I see the starting pitching playing out in the Central. Ideally the Twins will begin the upward trend we all are hoping for but until a true staff ace emerges, it’s going to be a tough battle for pitching supremacy in the division.