Opening Day is almost here, and the Minnesota Twins have made their first big decision of the season.
On Friday, the team announced its Opening Day starting pitcher and it will give fans an immediate first-look at one of the team's prized offseason acquisitions.
To the surprise of almost no one, the Twins will hand the ball to Pablo Lopez when the team begins its season next Thursday against the Kansas City Royals. This was to be expected, as Lopez was acquired from the Miami Marlins at a great price to hopefully anchor the starting rotation as an All-Star ace.
For what it's worth, Sonny Gray is in line to get the start for the Twins home opener at Target Field a week later.
Minnesota traded Luis Arraez to Miami for Lopez -- as well as a top Marlins prospect -- and he brings with him 180 innings pitched last season and dark horse Cy Young potential. That's music to the ears of Twins fans who are caught in a Groundhog Day situation each Opening Day when it comes to making peace with what the rotation looks like and talking ourselves into this finally being the year things come together.
List of recent Minnesota Twins Opening Day Starting Pitchers
Here's a quick look at the last Minnesota Twins Opening Day starting pitchers since 2010. Brace yourself, because it's a brutal trip through the last 13-years of Twins baseball:
at Angles (L, 6-3)
at Blue Jays (L, 11-3)
at Orioles (L, 4-2)
vs. Tigers (L, 4-2)
at White Sox (L, 5-3)
at Tigers (L, 4-0)
at Orioles (L, 3-2)
vs. Royals (W, 7-1)
at Orioles (L, 3-2)
vs. Cleveland (W, 2-0)
at White Sox (W, 10-5)
at Brewers (L, 6-5)
vs. Mariners (L, 2-1)
A few things stand out when taking a trip down memory lane, not the least of which is the fact that the Twins have only hosted Opening Day on the actual first day of the season three times at Target Field. That streak will continue as the Twins are beginning the season on the road in Kansas City this year.
Minnesota has also be miserable on Opening Day, both the state and the state of the team. As Prince once said, it always snows in April and the Twins almost never win on Opening Day -- he said the first part but probably was aware of the second.
Since 2010, the Twins are 3-10 on Opening Day although recent history suggests that could be a trend the team has turned the corner on. Most of that record is indicative of how painful it was to watch Twins baseball throughout most of the 2010s, which you need look no further than the team's starting pitcher on Opening Day to get an indication of how things were going and subsequently went.
Pour one out for the year Minnesota began its season by putting Vance Worley on the mound (you'll be shocked to learn the team lost 96-games that season).
Recently the Twins have been moving in the other direction, which is reflected in the recent starters on Opening Day. Minnesota is still 1-2 this decade on Opening Day but Kenta Maeda and Joe Ryan are not Ricky Nolasco and both are still active members of the team's starting rotation.
Lopez getting the start on Opening Day continues the narrative of things turning around for the Twins, and the promise of hope for this season. He was acquired to help bolster the rotation from what it was last season, and Minnesota isn't wasting any time in getting him on the mound. Ryan and Maeda are both in the rotation this year as well while Tyler Mahle and Sonny Gray are looking to bounce back in big ways.
Twins fans are no strangers to beginning the season by talking themselves into that year's starting rotation finally being the one. But we've come a long way from how things have been and it finally feels like the team's starting pitching is about to turn a corner.