No pressure rookie, but welcome to the bigs! The Minnesota Twins announced that Joe Ryan will be the Opening Day starter against the Seattle Mariners, meaning he’s got a major challenge in front of him.
The Mariners were in the bottom third of the league in runs scored per game last year at 4.30, but they added some new pieces to the lineup that should improve on that number, with the big one being Jesse Winker, who previously played for the Reds.
To make the Opening Day start even tougher on Ryan, he will be going up against the Mariners’ new ace, Robbie Ray, who previously pitched for the Blue Jays. Ray had an excellent year last year, posting a 2.84 ERA and winning the American League Cy Young.
On the bright side, the Twins open this series up at home (beginning April 7th). Considering all of the veterans the Twins have in the rotation now, I am kind of surprised they chose Joe Ryan to be the Opening Day starter. I was expecting Sonny Gray on the mound for the first game, but I am happy to see the Twins have trust in Ryan. After all, why wouldn’t they have faith in him?
Ryan started five games for the Minnesota Twins last year and pitched 26.2 innings (just over five innings pitched per start). He posted a 4.05 ERA in those 5 starts, but what jumps out to me is his WHIP, which was an impressive 0.788. He rarely allows free passes, only giving up five walks in his five starts. Not to mention, he also added 30 strikeouts in 26.2 innings.
Ryan can win this game if he can build off of what he showed us last season. The 25-year-old (still) rookie will have to pitch at least five innings to give the Twins a good chance, but if he can earn a quality start (six-plus innings and three or less runs allowed), I think the Twins would be in great shape with their offensive firepower.
This Opening Day will certainly be one of the more interesting/exciting Opening Days the Twins have had in awhile, and in addition to a Twins season full of intrigue, I cannot wait to see what the rookie, Joe Ryan can do.