Minnesota Twins: Projecting a Three Man Playoff Rotation
By Otto Johnson
With just eight games remaining for the Minnesota Twins, it’s time to look forward to what the Twins’ three man rotation would look like in the playoffs.
The Minnesota Twins are marching towards the playoffs, with their magic number shrinking every day. With that coming up, it’s time to start making some guesses about the 26-man postseason roster.
While we’ve already gone over some of the tough decisions the Twins have had to make as well as questions they’ve had to answer, we’re getting down to the end of the road for season, with a playoff series against the New York Yankees looking more and more likely (again).
Because of this, the Twins will have to put together a three-man postseason rotation for the three-game wild card series as well as the fourth starter for the (possible) games coming afterward. With that in mind, let’s start with the obvious one.
Minnesota Twins Starter No. 1: Kenta Maeda
2020 Stats: 10 GS, 60.2 IP, 5-1, 2.52 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 0.76 WHIP, 71-10 K-BB
This is a very obvious one. Kenta Maeda has been easily the Twins’ best starter all season long, going at least five innings in every start and giving up three runs just twice, surrendering less in every other start.
On top of that, Maeda comes over from the Dodgers with 24 games (including three starts) of playoff experience. In those 24 games, Maeda has a 2.91 ERA and a 39-12 K-BB ratio in 31 innings. The Twins have a legitimate ace to open a playoff series.
Minnesota Twins Starter No. 2: Michael Pineda
2020 Stats: 3 GS, 17.2 IP, 1-0, 3.57 ERA, 1.60 FIP, 1.189 WHIP, 20-4 K-BB
It’s taken Michael Pineda just three starts to put himself back in the thick of the rotation and lock him for a spot in the playoffs. The only question was which spot. He gets the second spot here as a player who the Yankees have never seen before in the playoffs as he used to play for them.
Though he’s never gotten a playoff start, he has been red-hot over the past year and a half. Despite his suspension, Pineda has given up more than 3 runs just twice in his last 23 starts and gone at least five innings in all but one. He’s been on an incredible hot streak since last May, and his continued success makes him the best choice here.
Minnesota Twins Starter No. 3: Jose Berrios
2020 Stats: 10 GS, 52 IP, 4-3, 4.15 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 1.365 WHIP, 57-23 K-BB
Yes, Jose Berrios struggled mightily this season, but you’d be crazy if you thought he wouldn’t be starting in the playoffs, especially after his recent hot streak. Berrios has not allowed more than three runs in a start since August 15th.
Yes, he also has struggled against the Yankees in the playoffs, giving up 6 runs over 7 innings, but he also struck out 10 and was much improved last year. He is the Twins’ most talented starter, and when he’s on, he’s been great. With his recent rebound, he’s a lock to get a start if the series goes three.
Extra Minnesota Twins Starter (No. 4): Rich Hill
2020 Stats: 6 GS, 26 IP, 2-1, 3.81 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 1.346 WHIP, 22-12 K-BB
This one will definitely surprise some people, but with how the staff has looked recently? Rich Hill may be the safest bet. He may not have the most elite numbers. but he has history. No current Twins pitcher has more playoff starts than Rich Hill’s 12, and his 3.06 ERA and 11.0 K/9 are excellent.
On top of that, who else do you take? Jake Odorizzi has been too banged up, and with his recent finger injury, it’s hard to feel confident with him starting one of the biggest games of the year. Homer Bailey may never make another start for the Minnesota Twins. The biggest question mark though, is Randy Dobnak.
Through August 22nd, Dobnak had been elite, but in three of his last four starts, he’s been shelled. In those three starts (11.1 IP), he’s given up 15 runs, which led to his eventual surprise demotion. Because of this, I don’t think he starts a playoff game despite having some playoff experience. But he may be used as a piggyback long reliever for Hill, a role that will help both of them.
Minnesota Twins Starting Rotation Final Projections
- Kenta Maeda
- Michael Pineda
- Jose Berrios
- Rich Hill
Other Starting Pitchers to Make Roster
5. Randy Dobnak
Odorizzi is just simply not ready, and Randy Dobnak would fill the long reliever role well. With only 26 spots and the Twins wanting to go with a reliever heavy roster, a banged-up and not ready Odorizzi misses the cut.