Minnesota Twins: Team Looks to Find Solid Fifth Arm
After a solid outing from prized prospect Jose Berrios, the Minnesota Twins are left with two major questions: Can he continue? Who will be the fifth arm?
After a solid outing from prized prospect Jose Berrios, the Minnesota Twins are left with two major questions moving forward: Can Berrios continue the same amount of success—and who will be the fifth arm in the rotation be?
It is understandable for Twins fans to be somewhat skeptical of the recent outing from Berrios on May 13th, as his ERA after 14 starts last season was a disturbing 8.02. However, for sake of the optimistic viewpoint, let’s assume Berrios’ success is in fact not a fluke, then where do the Twins stand?
Currently, the squad is nursing a four-man rotation, comprised of Ervin Santana, Hector Santiago, Phil Hughes, and Berrios. Baseball traditionalists would argue in favor of this style, but the bottom line is, this is a risky game to play for Paul Molitor, as it risks injuring one or more of these proven arms. This leads us to ask who is worthy of the fifth spot?
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Options for the fifth rotation spot.
In the farm system, the Twins have Adalberto Mejia, Nick Tepesch, and Kyle Gibson. Each has made one start or more in the majors this season. On the current roster, the Twins have Tyler Duffey, and Adam Wilk, pitchers who are currently in the bullpen, but have made starts in the past.
Starting with Gibson, he has struggled mightily in his time in the majors this season. Also in one start at Triple-A Rochester, gave up three runs in six innings pitched. Having needed to adjust his approach on the mound this offseason, it seems apparent that Gibson still has several kinks in his game that need to be worked out before given another chance at starting in the majors.
Tepesch and Wilk are somewhat similar, in that both are journeymen with subpar stuff, with fastballs barely hitting ninety. Wilk was used on Sunday in a damage-control situation, permitting a couple of runs. Tepesch was granted a spot start earlier this month against the Red Sox. Both are willing to start, and have major league experience. However, with the Twins looking to contend, these two pitchers are likely a liability.
Mejia and Duffey may be the best options.
This leaves Mejia and Duffey, both highly touted arms, who have had success in the past. Mejia had in the minors, and Duffey in 2015, when he carried a 3.13 ERA in 10 starts. Duffey would not likely be a first choice for Molitor, who often sticks to a game plan. The game plan in this situation is Duffey being a bullpen arm, where he has been incredibly reliable for the Twins.
Mejia was given the fifth spot in the rotation early in the season. He went 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA in three starts. At Rochester, he currently has a 4.08 ERA in 3 games started. Of all the options, this makes the most sense.
Mejia still is young, and will have starts in the majors that will be less than quality. However, one of his three starts for the Twins this season went 5 innings with one run given up, and his starts at Rochester have shown promise. Adding Mejia to the rotation can give the Twins a chance to compete, as well as leave Duffey in the bullpen. Duffey has carried a 2.12 ERA in 12 games.
Next: Jose Berrios' Hat Conspiracy
Of course, all of this analysis rides on what appears to be the coming-of-age for Jose Berrios. As baseball fans, we love to interpret small samples sizes. We love to generalize an entire season based upon a limited number of games. Berrios must continue his success. The Twins must find a reliable fifth arm to accompany him and the other starters if they want to compete this season.