Thursday, July 27, 2017

Fixing The Mound For Minnesota

We're well past the halfway point in the 2017 Major League Baseball season. With the Minnesota Twins now looking at both the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians above them in the AL Central, growth is more the focus than the playoffs the rest of the way. Once again this season, pitching has been a problem for the Twins, and 2018 can be a tide turning moment.

For the past handful of years, the Twins have found themselves in a circular state of rebuild. There's been bumps in the road however as management has made missteps in acquiring free agents, and development on the mound hasn't been what you'd have hoped. In 2018, the Twins will be looking at a division full of opportunity, and a lineup ready for a pitching staff to support. Through moves the rest of the way, and over the winter, they can blaze a new trail in the year ahead.

By the end of the week, Paul Molitor's club will have run out 12 different starting pitchers in 2017. That's a high number for the season in total, and being it's only July, something the club will want to avoid a year from now. Looking for five guys to round out a playoff contender in 2018, here's who the Twins should be considering:

Jose Berrios

Start first and foremost with the internal options. Berrios has come into his own in 2017, and while he hasn't been consistently lights out, he's shown the ability in short bursts. Through 14 starts, Berrios has tallied a 3.76 ERA and an 8.4 K/9 to pair with a 2.7 BB/9. You'd still like to see a heightened level of command, but he's been much more good than bad.

Adalberto Mejia

Arguably one the greatest return in a trade for Minnesota in quite some time, Mejia has looked the part of a rotation fixture. He doesn't have a high ceiling, but at the back of the group, you could do a whole lote worse. Through 15 starts he owns a 4.10 ERA and has compiled a 7.6 K/9 to go with a 4.1 BB/9. Pitch economy is something he's struggled with this season, and he'll need to limit high counts and walks to take the next step forward. Still just 24, there's plenty of reason to believe he's capable.

High-Level Free Agent

For all of the hand-wringing the past few seasons in regards to not spending or acquiring talent, 2018 represents Minnesota's first true opportunity to be open for criticism. With a lineup ready to take the next step, and plenty of money coming off the books, there's zero reason not to spend and supplement from outside. Adding a big name hurler isn't going to come cheap, but there's a few sensible options out there. Thad Levine has familiarity going for him with Yu Darvish, and while 2017 hasn't been great for Jake Arrieta, the Cubs pitcher could be a good option as well.

Mid-Level Free Agent

If the Twins don't trade Ervin Santana, and I'd be in favor of them doing so barring a fair return, then they'll need another similar type of arm. Santana has flashed some really good stretches, and putting someone of similar ability in front of the Twins defense could produce consistent results as well. Names among this group probably include Jeremy Hellickson, Chris Tillman, Lance Lynn, Tyler Chatwood, or Alex Cobb

A Fight For The Fifth

Rounding out the group, Minnesota could call upon their depth. Trevor May is probably the most talented among the group, but remains a question mark in coming back from Tommy John surgery. Top prospects like Stephen Gonsalves and Fernado Romero will factor in here, and getting them exposure in 2017 seems like a good plan of action. A holdover like Kyle Gibson could make sense if the Twins bring him back as well.

Entering the 2018 slate, it remains apparent that the biggest detriment to Minnesota taking the next step is on the mound. The core for a solid team is there, and the division presents opportunity. Adding from the outside and committing to go for it seems like the logical path to travel. Now let's hope something similar takes place.

3 comments:

  1. The idea of two free agents doesn't really work for me. I do think they need at least two new starters, one being a free agent, but then I think they focus on a player who is controllable and maybe coming off a down year and attempting to trade for that player with some of their prospect depth. The name I LOVE is Kevin Gausman, but it doesn't have to be him. That said, he is someone who needs a fresh start. Basically, I'd rather trade and acquire a 2nd starting pitcher rather than spending free agent dollars for two new pitchers. But the idea of Darvish and Gausman (for example) is exciting.

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    1. I can't imagine Gausman being cheap, but that is a route that I think would be enticing to explore. They also need one less starter if they do end up holding onto Santana. I'm in favor of trading him, but it has to be for something of value.

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    2. Agreed. If the offers aren't there for Santana you keep him. Then they can explore the trade route and the free agency route. Hopefully they are aggressive this offseason, whichever road they decide to travel on.

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