4 biggest questions Twins need to answer in Spring Training

Minnesota Twins v Boston Red Sox
Minnesota Twins v Boston Red Sox / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
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Spring Training is finally here, but the work is only just beginning for the Minnesota Twins.

With minimal activity this winter, the Twins will once again be leaning on in-house talent to try and improve the roster and build on the success of last season. The winter didn't pass without the team making a few moves, like signing Carlos Santana and Jay Jackson while trading away Jorge Polanco for Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Topa -- among others.

For the most part, though, the Twins laid off any big moves and opted to ride into the spring with its core players back and a crop of young prospects ready to make the jump. Last year's youth movement worked out pretty well, so here's to hoping the success can be repeated.

That's why this Spring Training will be so crucial for the Twins. Snapping a 19-year postseason losing streak was a fantastic way to end last season, but there are a few things the team still needs to figure out before the start of another.

4 biggest questions Twins need to answer in Spring Training

Who will be the Twins' No. 5 starter?

Right now here's the Twins' projected starting rotation:

  1. Pablo Lopez
  2. Joe Ryan
  3. Bailey Ober
  4. Chris Paddack
  5. ????

That fifth starter role could go a number of different ways, and the Twins will need to use Spring Training to figure it out.

Arguments could be made for fringe candidates like Simeon Woods Richardson or David Festa, but it seems that the race is likely down to Anthony DeSclafani and Louie Varland.

Varland figures to have the inside track since he's spent more time trying to fight for the role. He made his way into the starting rotation briefly last season, but didn't do enough to hold the position. He's one of a handful of top minor league players on the 26-man roster bubble and could still make the Opening Day roster as part of Minnesota's bullpen.

He might end up there if DeSclafani can come in and take care of business. The Twins acquired DeSclafani from the Mariners as part of the Jorge Polanco trade, and the idea was that he'd be a potential option at the back-end of the rotation. He started 18 games for the San Francisco Giants last season, finishing with a 4.88 ERA and a 1.254 WHIP. Varland projects to have a slightly higher WAR than DeSclafani but if the latter can tap into what he had a few years ago for the Giants then he's far and away the team's No. 5 starter if not more.

Back in 2021, DeSclafani finished with a 13-7 record and a 3.66 ERA that included two complete game shutouts. Most notably, he pitched 167.2 innings, which is exactly the sort of production the Twins need to replace what it lost in Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda.

Injuries have bogged him down, but if DeSclafani can start tapping back into his 2021 magic during Spring Training the decision will be an easy one for Minnesota.