In the summer of 2016, the Twins had a look ahead as Terry Ryan left the General Manager’s chair. One of the ways they did that was to rid themselves of the longer obligation of Ricky Nolasco, whose option would have turned into a player option with 400 innings pitched combined in 2016 and 2017 combined. (Nolasco finished just ~20 innings short after a rough performance year in 2017 caused him to get pulled early.)
Coming back to the Twins was the certainty of salary freedom in 2018 in Hector Santiago, along with the presence of a lefty in the rotation. The 29 year-old struggled in his time with the Twins in 2016, posting a 5.58 ERA, but there was hope that Santiago could be a positive piece of the 2017 rotation after a very strong showing in the World Baseball Classic this spring.
Santiago did come out firing, and after his first four starts of the year, he’d thrown 24 2/3 innings with a 2.19 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and keeping his walks under control with a 4/17 BB/K ratio as a quality mid-rotation piece in the rotation. However, the control wavered, though he was able to still find success. After his start on May 9th, Santiago had made 7 starts on the season, throwing 42 1/3 innings, with a 2.76 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and a 16/31 BB/K ratio.
From there, the control collapsed, and it seemed Santiago was grooving pitches to attempt to compensate. He had allowed 3 home runs in his first 7 starts, and he allowed 3 in his next start against the Indians on May 14th, and he only had one appearance the rest of the season without a home run allowed the rest of the season, finishing with 15 home runs allowed.
Santiago came in to throw the 15th inning of the Twins’ 15-inning marathon with the Tampa Bay Rays on May 28th two days after going 5 1/3 innings and 101 pitches against the Rays. He then got beat up for 3 home runs against the Astros in his next start and from that point only was able to make three more starts, spending the rest of the season on the disabled list, with what was originally tabbed as back pain. It’s since come out that Santiago could be dealing with the new plague of pitchers, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
Santiago will become a free agent this offseason, and the Twins will be letting him walk in almost near-certainty.
Next: Vet Pickup