Joe Mauer came out and stated that concussions have blurred his vision and thus hindering his production. How will this affect Minnesota Twins? Click here to see my MLB picks on this team.
It's going to be up to the Twins questionable starting rotation to pick up the slack and bring this team back to it's glory days when Tom Kelly was managing. Let's take a look at what the Twinkies have to offer in the form of starting pitching.
Should've Been Better
The Twins have Phil Hughes slated as the ace and at 11-9 with a 4.40 ERA, that's not ace material. What's so painful about it is I remember when Hughes was a young upstart with the New York Yankees and this guy had the potential to be one of the greats. Now, he's just going to be remembered as an average Major League pitcher.
One issue with Hughes is his ability to run up high pitch counts early and he either finds his groove too late or the manager gives him the hook. Another aspects of Hughes being the ace is that he can come up with huge performances.
This is a guy with good stuff that's simply inconsistent. Hughes gave up a ton of hits last season as opponents hit .293 off of him. Unless he can get back on track and he's still just 29 years old, Minnesota will be in trouble with Phil Hughes as the #1 starter on their team. You know the Twins are in for another long year as they're currently listed at +5000 on the MLB odds boards to win the World Series
In limited action (108 innings) last season, Ervin Santana possessed a 4.00 ERA on the nose. Along with that came a 7-5 record and he allowed opposing hitters to hit .253 off of him. Everything screamed average except his play on the road as he pitched to the tune of a 3.64 ERA.
Again, this isn't a pitcher that belongs in the number 2 spot, but he's the best that the Twins have to offer and he brings a ton of experience to the table. A lot of pressure will be on Minnesota's offense as the pitching staff leaves a lot to be desired.
A Legitimate #3 Starter
Kyle Gibson gave the Twins the innings that they needed (194 2/3) and he kept them in most ball games. On a team such as this, that's the best that Gibson can do.
He finished last season with a .500 record and a respectable 3.84 ERA in a hard-hitting American League. I mention all of the good stuff and I contradict myself as this is a pitcher that really doesn't impress me. There's no signs of intimidation.
If he faces Miguel Cabrera on a good day, Miggy could easily go 4 for4 with 2 home runs. That said, the numbers don't lie and Minnesota should be happy with the right-hander as their number 3 guy.
Something To Build On
If 2nd year pitcher, Tyler Duffey (5-1, 3.10 ERA) pitches the way that he did last season in limited action, the Twins fans and bettors have something to look forward to.
Duffey liked home cooking as he pitched to a 4.24 ERA on the road. He did allow almost a hit per inning, but he didn't get a full season in and he definitely did enough to get the attention of the Twins management.
If Duffey continues to pitch well, we can easily see him move up this rotation as there are a bunch of average veterans with nothing special to offer this team except for innings and even that can be a struggle a times. Look for Duffey to pitch well this season if given the opportunity and he remains healthy.
Milone can even go higher than the number 5 starter in this rotation as he's been a positive thus far. Last season, he pitched quite well.
In 23 games started, he was 9-5 with a 3.92 ERA. He gave up a hit per inning on the dot. This won't hurt the team if the offense can cover for the pitcher and Milone received some run support.
Nontheless, he's a solid pitcher that can keep Minnesota in the game when called upon and on a team such as this, that's all that they can ask for. I don't expect Milone to have a monster season, but I also expect him to be the 41-28 pitcher that he's been throughout his career.
It's almost laughable as the latter part of the Twins rotation might have a higher upside than their go to guys. The only difference is that they can expect a ton of innings from their top 3 pitchers if they remain healthy and that's very important in the MLB.
We're only concerned with the starting pitching in this piece and at best, Minnesota will be one of the more average MLB picks. My gut is telling me that Phil Hughes will have an improved season if he gets the run support, but time will tell. Don't place any future bets on this squad.