The Minnesota Twins are having a tremendous season, but it will all go for not if they don’t get serious about addressing their pitching.
For the first two-plus months of the season, following the Minnesota Twins has been a blast for their fans. They own one of the best records in Major League Baseball, have an offense that can put up runs at will and have a blend of personalities that are easy to cheer for. After the franchises’ lack of success in this decade, people are excited about the Twins’ prospects for the first time in a long time.
Things are going good for the Twins right now, but they seem to have a major problem on the horizon. While the offense has been able to pummel opposing teams into submission, the Twins’ glaring weakness has started to show on the mound.
To address this, let’s look at the Twins starting rotation. Overall, the guys taking the ball every game have looked good for Minnesota this season. Jose Berrios (8-2, 3.14 ERA) and Jake Odorizzi (8-2, 1.96 ERA) are having All-Star caliber seasons while Kyle Gibson (6-3, 4.14 ERA) is what he is at this point as a decent No. 3 starter.
After that trio is where the Twins are starting to have problems. Martin Perez got off to a ridiculous start going 5-0 with a 2.83 ERA in his first eight appearances of the season, but has seemed to hit a wall going 2-2 with a 5.25 ERA in his past five starts (including four of which where he couldn’t make it to the sixth inning).
The Twins are also optimistic about the return of Michael Pineda, who was activated off the injured list earlier this week. The big right-hander was doing his job prior to getting injured, rattling off four straight quality starts and had a solid start (5 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 3 K) against Detroit on Friday that could have been a quality start if he wasn’t on a pitch count.
Although the rotation has done its job throughout the season, the back end may be what costs this team down the stretch, not from ineffectiveness, but from an inability to get the bullpen into the game later.
This has been the problem that has become a glaring issue during the past road trip. While the bullpen has looked good coming into games where the Twins have a massive lead, it has begun to completely fall apart when Minnesota needs to take hold of a close game.
Taylor Rogers and Blake Parker have been fine in the dual closer role, but once again, it’s the issue of getting to those two. Matt Magill has been the Twins’ equivalent of the human tee during this road trip, allowing nine runs in his last 1.2 innings of work while Minnesota has had a revolving door at the back end of its bullpen that has seen the likes of Zack Littell, Austin Adams, Chase De Jong take their turns getting destroyed.
Ryan Eades temporarily put that trend to a halt with two scoreless innings against Detroit, but he also represents an uninspiring roster at Triple-A Rochester that doesn’t have any reinforcements in sight.
With all of this going on, the time for the Twins to address their pitching is now before it turns into a full-blown disaster. It may not be cheap to acquire some names like Madison Bumgarner, Ken Giles or Marcus Stroman, but they need to find a way to make the bridge to the back end a little steadier. Otherwise, a tremendous start could go to waste.