Reason for Optimism for the Minnesota Twins No. 2: Starting Pitching
The Minnesota Twins’ starting pitching has been excellent in 2021, with a combined ERA of 3.24 over the team’s first fourteen starts. The top of the rotation has looked especially good. Kenta Maeda (3.07 ERA/3.09 FIP), Jose Berrios (3.38 ERA/2.16 FIP), and Michael Pineda (1.00 ERA/3.21 FIP) have been as good as hoped for in their first nine starts.
The back of the rotation has been solid a Matt Shoemaker, J.A. Happ, and Lewis Thorpe have been solid in their first five starts too, combining for a 3.80 ERA and almost 8 strikeouts per nine innings. That’s excellent production from the back end to work with elite production at the top.
If the Twins want to stay competitive, the rotation has to keep playing at this pace while the aforementioned bullpen and offensive slow starters catch up. They’ve showed every sign thus far that they can do that. Their previous performances suggest that as well.
In 2020, these pitchers had similar numbers. Maeda was the runner-up for the Cy Young, Pineda had a 2.22 FIP after his suspension, and Berrios had the worst season of the career, but still put together a 4.00 ERA and almost ten strikeouts per nine innings.
Happ had a 3.47 ERA with a 4.57 FIP in 2020, similar to his 3.12 ERA and 4.22 FIP in 2021, so it’s reasonable to expect he could continue. Shoemaker was injured for most of 2019 and 2020, but when he’s healthy he’s solid. This rotation can help carry the team through the dry spells of the early season.