The Twins have patched any offensive holes that you might be concerned about. Perhaps Jonathan Schoop isn’t the guy you wanted at 2nd, or you didn’t believe designated hitter to be an enormous concern, the Twins went out and signed players to plug into all of those gaps. Aside from Mike Morin, however, the Twins haven’t done much for their pitching staff.
There has been a move towards some more creative pitching strategies, such as the “opener” or “bullpen days”. These are meant to maximize the effectiveness of the various arms that a team might have in the pitching staff, but the only way for this to work as an effective strategy is 1) not to use it for the entire season and 2) make sure you don’t need to lean on the bullpen on days in which a traditional starter is used.
There has been a lot of talk of the Twins getting a bullpen ace, or simply solidifying it with a few veterans, but make no mistake The best way to improve your bullpen is to ensure that you don’t need to use it very often. The Twins, and any organization, need reliable, inning eating starters.
With the moves the Twins have made this offseason, it’s clear that they think they are going to contend this year. If so, do they believe they have the rotation options to bear the weight of the innings? As a refresher, they have Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi as somewhat bankable options to work 5-7 innings a game. Michael Pineda is a question mark because of his long term and more recent injury history and they otherwise have a collection of young players that could take the 5th spot in the rotation.
I’m not terribly comfortable without 5 locks in the rotation, if it is a season to make a push for the post season. It will be nice to have depth options to move into the rotation when injuries inevitably crop up. There aren’t many options left in free agency, though there are a few choices left.. Dallas Kuechel is the best available option, though he would cost a draft pick, and the team might take a sniff at James Shields or Gio Gonzalez who could eat innings in the back of a rotation, but neither of those guys are terribly inspiring.
I think that means that the Twins need to explore the trade market. The way things are playing out, with few options available through free agency, some names might start to shake free in the next couple of months. The Indians are already marketing some of their top names, and the Rangers seem to be open to moving Mike Minor. Undoubtedly, other options like bounceback names like Marcus Stroman are less likely options, but the Twins could still kick the tires.
It’s easy to see why the Twins think this is a good season to make a push. The Indians are retooling, and we are likely one or two years from the White Sox being a formidable contender for the division crown. The Twins organization will eventually develop good pitchers given a few more years, but they seem to see a window this year. Now is not the time to get cute with the rotation or the pitching staff. Get some guys to gobble up innings, and the chances at a fantastic bullpen will increase.