Minnesota Twins: Is Josh Winder the right call for the Last Rotation Spot?
By Otto Johnson
Opening Day is now just thirteen days away, and while the Minnesota Twins’ lineup and bullpen are now mostly put together, with Carlos Correa officially locked in and Joe Smith likely as the team’s last bullpen addition. Both the bats and the bullpen look like groups that can contend. This leaves the starting rotation.
Sonny Gray fits in as either the ace or the second-best pitcher in a rotation. Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan are expected to be in the rotation, though both are still very young and unproven. Dylan Bundy will also likely land in the rotation after being the only free agent starter the Twins signed. This leads to the question: Who is the fifth guy?
The team has been linked to Johnny Cueto and Frankie Montas, but with neither of those deals materializing, there’s a level of concern that the Twins may be sticking with the group they have for right now. If that’s the case, it’s looking like Josh Winder could potentially land that fifth rotation spot.
Manager Rocco Baldelli suggested that the Twins are leaning towards using Griffin Jax and Lewis Thorpe as long relievers if they’re able to make the big league team, clearing up a spot for Josh Winder to take over as the fifth starter if no other pitcher is added. This raises the question though: Is Josh Winder the right call for the last Minnesota Twins rotation spot?
Is Josh Winder the best option for the last Minnesota Twins rotation spot?
Don’t get me wrong: I’m a big fan of Josh Winder. He was my No. 6 Prospect in the Twins system for a reason. He’s got good stuff, command, and has been excellent in the minors. He’s also started off Spring Training extremely well. But having the 25-year-old in the rotation to start the year is an extremely risky move.
The Twins are already relying on Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan as members of their current rotation. While both pitchers looked good last season, they have a combined 25 starts to their resumes. Adding another extremely young arm who slipped a little bit at Triple-AAA seems like a recipe for a mess.
When the Twins added Gray, Correa, and Joe Smith, those were three options that signified a win-now mindset. Starting the year with three young arms (two of whom are rookies) is far too risky for a team with playoff expectations.
Again, I like Josh Winder, I expected him to take over a rotation spot from Dylan Bundy (or Johnny Cueto if he signed here) later in the year. But not adding another starter and instead skipping right to Winder means the rotation depth is paper thin, especially with Randy Dobnak out.
One of the biggest issues for the 2021 Twins team was that lack of depth in the rotation. When Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ struggled while Michael Pineda and Kenta Maeda dealt with injuries, the team fell apart. If the Twins go into the year with similar depth, they may be in for a similar result. The team should hold off on inserting Winder into the rotation for a little bit longer.