3 pitchers who can replace Anthony DeSclafani as Twins fifth starter

With Anthony DeSclafani potentially out for the season, who will step up and replace him?

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When the Minnesota Twins traded for Anthony DeSclafani as part of the Jorge Polanco deal, the caveat was that he'd be a great addition if he could stay healthy.

Less than a month into his tenure, he's already coming up short.

DeSclafani has been held back during Spring Training by a forearm issue that now appears to be more serious than initially thought. The Twins announced that he'd begin the season on the IL and was seeking a second opinion from a doctor -- which is never good and always a precursor to something terrible.

The fear is that DeSclafani's season is already over, which means the Twins are right back at square one in terms of figuring out who will be the team's fifth starter when the season starts next week.

Even if a worst case scenario is avoided, it's clear that a replacement will need to be found for the first few starts of the season. The Twins didn't attach a timeline for DeSclafani's return, but the fact that he's seeking further evaluation doesn't seem promising. Luckily, Minnesota has a few options that it can weigh before it locks in a final decision.

3 pitchers who can replace Anthony DeSclafani as Twins fifth starter

Louie Varland

The frontrunner to replace DeSclafani is Louie Varland, who came to camp with an outside shot of outright winning the fifth starter role. Trading for DeSclafani gave him an inside track, but Varland isn't some default replacement option getting placed into the rotation.

We saw a little bit of Varland the last two seasons, as he posted a 4.63 ERA in 68 innings in 2023 while working both as a starter and out of the bullpen. He didn't catch on like Bailey Ober did, but the Twins still stuck with Varland to the point where he was on both the AL Wild Card and ALDS roster in the postseason.

Varland built on his progress this spring, posting a dominating 0.640 WHIP while striking out 11 batters and allowing zero runs on six hits across 11 innings. While he saw some bullpen work last year, Varland started three of the four games he appeared in this spring, which suggests he's taken some serious steps forward in proving he has what it takes to fit into the rotation on Opening Day.

That seems to be where he's headed, but the question is how long will be able to hold the role? If he can continue the sort of success he's had in Fort Myers, it could be that DeSclafani finds himself out of a starting role if he ends up coming back this season. There are high hopes for Varland's future in Minnesota, one that might be arriving a little earlier than scheduled.