With Spring Training about to break, it sounds like the Minnesota Twins have finally settled on what the starting rotation will look like when the season begins this week.
Over the course of the last month we’ve learned a few different things about what the starting pitching situation will be, especially coming out of what things looked like last year. To say things were disappointing is to undersell how awful things were. It’s unclear who fully deserves the blame — if that’s even possible to identify — but things need to change. Rocco Baldelli’s management has been a common thing for fans to call out, but the state of the pitching rotation wasn’t particularly great.
Blame Rocco all you want, but there aren’t a ton of people who can say with a straight face that they felt comfortable with guys like Chris Archer going deep into starts. That’s what we were dealing with last year, and it was a situation that grew so dire that the Twins traded away one of its best players to try and fill the gap.
Luis Arráez was traded to the Miami Marlins this winter to acquire Pablo Lopez, something that instantly made the pitching situation better but is just the tip of the iceberg heading into the upcoming season.
Potential Minnesota Twins starting rotation revealed
With Opening Day less than a week away, the Twins are still moving pieces around to finalize the roster. Camp doesn’t break for a few more days, but when it does we already have a good idea of what the starting rotation will look like and how to feel about it.
According to Minnesota Twins beat writer Do-Hyoung Park, here’s what the projected starting rotation is expected to be when the season begins on Thursday:
- Pablo Lopez
- Sonny Gray
- Joe Ryan
- Tyler Mahle
- Kenta Maeda
No too shabby, especially juxtaposed against what the rotation looked like last year.
One observation is that there are only five men in the rotation, which answers a big question fans had all spring. It was looking like there might be a six-man rotation to start the season, but Bailey Ober getting send to Triple-A ends that debate.
Chris Paddack is starting the year on the 60-day IL so he’s out of the discussion for a sixth spot in the rotation, but it was Ober’s slot to lose. What sending him down does, though, is provide the Twins with a contingency plan in case things go sideways with someone in the rotation. Ober is the next-man-up and will get the call if someone struggles, which is entirely possible.
After celebrating his return in Spring Training, Maeda petered off in a way that’s a bit concerning. It’s hard to read too far into stats in Spring Training, but Maeda finished with a 1-1 record in four starts and posted a 4.91 ERA.
That’s not great, but it’s not wholly unexpected. Maeda is coming back from Tommy John surgery but his last fully healthy season saw him turn in a Cy Young-worthy performance. That guy won’t show up overnight, but it’s what the Twins are betting on.
If his trend continues, though, that’s when Ober might get the call to take his spot at the back of the rotation. Hopefully, that’s the end of the concerns that feel like they stem from last season.
Joe Ryan is in line to take another step forward, Sonny Gray is expected to have a bounce-back year, and a healthy Tyler Mahler could be a guy who gets an extension from the Twins to anchor the rotation for years to come.
And then there’s Lopez who is leading the rotation and is already garnering dark horse Cy Young consideration.
It’s early, but things are already looking up in ways they didn’t last year for the Twins starting rotation. Time will tell if this is an actual turning of the corner or just another in a long line of misbegotten hope for a fan base perpetually waiting for the year the rotation finally delivers.