Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but it’s time to start thinking about how the Minnesota Twins can best position the roster for a deep run in October.
Actually, the Twins just need to win a playoff series for fans to breath a sigh of relief that has been collectively held in since 2004. We all know about the long postseason losing streak Minnesota is in the middle of, but this might be the year the team snaps out of it.
Quick aside: I’ve been known to jinx these sorts of things with my fellow Minnesota friends. Famously I once sent a celebratory text as Blair Walsh lined up for a game-winning chip shot against the Seahawks in the Wild Card — so if the Twins crater and miss the playoffs you’ll know why.
More seriously, the Twins have a roster this year that might be more talented than any we’ve seen in over a decade. Guys like Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa getting healthy and right before October would be coupled with high-powered bats like Royce Lewis and Edouard Julien.
Of course, the offense has been a giant question mark all season long but one area of the roster has remained solid. For the first time in what feels like a lifetime the Twins have a starting pitching staff more than capable of carrying its weight. In fact, pitching might be the strongest part of the Twins roster which still feels weird to say.
Even weirder is the fact that the Twins boast a staff that feels equipped to carry the team in October. The question to start thinking about is what it looks like?
Twins Three-Man Rotation
It’s looking like the Twins will be one of the teams playing in the Wild Card round, unless they find a way to catch either Texas or Baltimore and finish with a Top 2 record in the AL.
Where the Twins begin their postseason journey is almost beside the point, as all fans want to see is a win. All Minnesota would need to do is win two games to break their curse, but the strategy of a three-man rotation might be something that carries beyond the first round.
As far as who is in that rotation, it’s not hard to make the argument for this three-headed mound monster:
That’s pretty darn good, especially with what Twins fans have been subjected to in postseasons past. While the bar is low, a trio of Gray-Lopez-Ryan might be the best pitching rotation Minnesota has had in the postseason since the 2000s.
It’s no wonder the postseason losing streak has been so intense.
Which Twins pitchers go to the bullpen?
The quesiton is who the next-man-up is as a potential fourth starter. The odds seem to favor Bailey Ober, with someone like Kenta Maeda or Dallas Keuchel coming out of the bullpen.
It could be that the Twins stick to a three-man rotation in the ALDS as well, since it’s a best-of-five series. Rolling through Gray-Lopez-Ryan and turning it over in Game 4 probably gives the Twins their best shot.
Beyond that, things open up a little bit.
Ober makes sense as the fourth pitcher in a ALCS rotation, but do the Twins also call up and add Louie Varland to the bullpen? That would give them potential starter options in Maeda, Kuechel, and Varland, with all of them capable of long relief situations as well.
It’s only August so this doesn’t have to be a complete plan, but it’s time to start sketching something out to make sure the Twins are fully prepared.