The American League Central will come down to the Cleveland Indians or the Minnesota Twins in 2018. Minnesota needs to build on the momentum from the Wild Card berth in 2017.
In order to do that, the Minnesota Twins will need to add pitching. This is a common theme around all of Major League Baseball, but the Twins are in a position to fill a major hole. The team needs a starting pitcher and Yu Darvish needs to be the pitcher they sign.
Ervin Santana led this pitching staff in 2017 with 16 wins and a 3.28 ERA in 33 starts. However, at age 35, Santana cannot do this on his own any longer. Enter the Japanese superstar Darvish.
Why sign Darvish?
The answer to that question is simple: he is the best available starter this winter. Darvish has an established track record of success, and Minnesota needs a top flight arm to pair with Santana.
Darvish instantly transforms the Minnesota Twins rotation into a strength. He is coming off of a season in which he struck out 209 batters in 186 2/3 innings splitting time between the American and National League.
Although Darvish hasn’t exactly lived up to the hype since coming to the states, he is without question a top of the rotation pitcher. For his career Darvish is 56-42 with a 3.42 ERA and averages 265 strikeouts and only 80 walks per season. However, he has only topped 200 innings pitched one time to this point in his career and durability has to be a concern.
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Darvish is only two years removed from having Tommy John surgery and is definitely still getting back into form. Last season was a great sign that he is back from the injury, but there will always be concern. He has never shown elite durability in MLB but he still has time to change that narrative.
The Minnesota Twins made the playoffs in 2017 with a rag-tag group of starting pitchers. With any luck Phil Hughes will rediscover his success from a few years ago, giving the Twins a potentially potent 1-2 punch along with Santana.
Adding Darvish to this group only makes the team better as a whole. Minnesota boasts a potent offense with the likes of Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano in the lineup. Bringing Darvish into the fold pushes this team to the next level.
The Twins can definitely make the playoffs without Darvish. However, with Darvish the question becomes how far can they go? I hope we all get the answer to that question in 2018.