Minnesota Twins: Starting Rotation Predictions for the 2020 Season
By Kasey Kuhrts
The biggest factor for the Minnesota Twins to be successful in the 2020 MLB season is their starting rotation.
In the offseason the Minnesota Twins let go of Martin Perez and Kyle Gibson, who both threw 159 innings plus last season, and Michael Pineda will continue to serve his suspension once the season starts. This leaves three open slots in the rotation from last season.
With a wide-open season ahead, this is how we believe the Minnesota Twins will fill out their rotation once the season starts.
Minnesota Twins Number One Starter/Ace: Jose Berrios
I know we’re not breaking any news here, but it has to be said: Jose Berrios is the unquestioned ace of this staff. Jose earned his second AL All Star appearance last season and finished the season 14-8 with a 3.68 ERA.
What should really encourage you about Jose is from 2018 to 2019, he lowered his ERA from 3.84 to 3.68, upped his win total from 12 to 14, and downed his loss total from 11 to 8. Jose also upped his innings pitched, going over 200 innings for the first time in his career. Twins fans should look for Berrios to make even bigger strides in the 2020 season.
Minnesota Twins Number Two Starter: Jake Odorizzi
Jake Odorizzi had without a doubt the best season of his MLB career last season in Minnesota. Jake set his career high in wins with 15, his previous career high was 11 in 2014, and strikeouts with 178, his pervious career high was 174 in 2014. Jake also earned his first career All Star appearance last season.
A big reason Jake had the success he did last season was because of his walk rate. Jake had his lowest amount of walks allowed since 2015. He only walked 53 batters last season, cutting it down by 17 from 2018. If Odorizzi can continue to keep his walks down it will help him recreate his fantastic 2019 season in 2020.
Minnesota Twins Number Three Starter: Rich Hill
Rich Hill is a newcomer to the Twins rotation. As I mentioned in an article last week, Hill had offseason surgery and was expected to miss the start of the season. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Hill expects to be fully healthy when the season gets underway.
Hill seems like the perfect candidate for the third spot in the rotation. He couldn’t be more different than Berrios and Odorizzi, who will pitch before him, and he will separate the front two righties from the back two righties in the rotation.
Minnesota Twins Number Four Starter: Kenta Maeda
Kenta Maeda is another newcomer to the Twins. Maeda spent the first four seasons of his MLB career with the Dodgers after coming over from the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan.
In his rookie season, and the last time Maeda was a full-time starter, Kenta was 16-11 with a 3.48 ERA. This was good enough for Kenta to finish third in the Rookie of the Year voting. However, since that 2016 season Kenta has never had more wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, or a lower ERA.
Durning his time with LA, Kenta wanted to be a full time starter. After the success he had in his rookie campaign, he knew he was capable of being a quality starter in the MLB, and he really didn’t want to be a reliever.
In the limited spring training we saw, Kenta started all three games he appeared in. Now we are not going to hand out accolades due to spring training stats, but Kenta had a solid spring. Maeda had 10 strikeouts in only 8.2 innings pitched, and only allowed 2 earned runs in that time.
Maeda will be a big factor in the success of the Twins this season. As the Twins believe they know what they will get from Berrios, Odorizzi, and Hill, Maeda is an unknown. Dodger fans have seen Maeda look unhittable, but they have also seen him get shelled.
Although we can’t tell you which version of Maeda Twins fans are going to see, we believe keeping him in a starter role is the way to go with Kenta.
Minnesota Twins Number Five starter: Homer Bailey
I believe this veteran newcomer will round out the Twins rotation. Homer Bailey has had a very long career, full of incredible highs, and unbelievable lows. Bailey will start his 14th MLB season when we finally get underway in 2020, but it will only be the second season he won’t start in Cincinnati.
Bailey pitched the first 12 years of his career in Cincy. In the first seven of those years, from 2007-2013, Bailey was 49-45 with a 4.35 ERA. In that time Bailey threw five complete games, and two of those five complete games were No-Hitters.
In 2012, Bailey threw the first of the two on the road against the Pirates. The second No-Hitter came in 2013 at home against the Giants. These two incredible performances made Bailey a household name around the league.
After the 2013 season, Bailey received a six-year, $105 million-dollar contract extension with the Reds. Bailey would play five of the six seasons of the contract with the Reds, and it was ugly. From 2014-2018 with the Reds, Bailey was 18-32 with a 5.27 ERA.
During that time, Bailey had many injury issues, including undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015, which would have him miss more than a year between starts. In the 2017 offseason, Bailey had another surgery, which delayed the start of his 2018 season until June.
In the 2018 season, Bailey pitched his most innings since 2014, but went 1-14 with a 6.09 ERA. After the 2018 season, the Reds traded Bailey to the Dodgers in a blockbuster trade involving Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and super prospect Jeter Downs. The Dodgers immediately cut Bailey after the trade, and he never played a game with them
Shortly before spring training last season, the Royals signed Bailey to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Bailey would make their opening day roster, but only spent the first half of the season in Kansas City, as he was traded to Oakland at the deadline.
In Oakland, Bailey showed some of his pre-2014 form, going 6-3 down the stretch, with a 4.30 ERA. Bailey helped Oakland get to the Wild Card game last season, but his A’s were beaten by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Which brings us to now, the Twins brought in Bailey and we believe he will start the season as the fifth starter in the rotation. However, Twins fans shouldn’t expect Bailey to have an ERA under 4.00 this season. 2014 was the last time his ERA was under 4.00, and his career ERA is 4.57.
I think Bailey will be on a short leash, as Michael Pineda will be coming back 39 games into the season, and both Devin Smeltzer and Randy Dobnak got starts last season for the Twins, offering good back-up plans.
I also believe both Smeltzer and Dobnak will be on the Twins opening day roster, and if Bailey doesn’t show the form he had in Oakland last season, I think it could be a quick change to the back end of the Twins rotation.
2020 Minnesota Twins Rotation:
- Jose Berrios
- Jake Odorizzi
- Rich Hill
- Kenta Maeda
- Homer Bailey
If the Minnesota Twins can get Odorizzi to repeat his 2019 season in 2020, keep Rich Hill healthy, and Kenta Maeda can get comfortable in the rotation, the Twins have a real chance to go deep in the 2020 playoffs.