The Twins only needed to fill two spots in their starting rotation last offseason – and the decisive struggles of free agent acquisitions JA Happ and Matt Shoemaker played no insignificant role in the overall trajectory of the Minnesota’s disappointing 2021 season.
Now Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, Wes Johnson, Pete Maki and the Twins’ coaching staff face an even more difficult task: with no pitchers expected to return from this year’s opening day rotation in Due to Tommy John’s recent operation from Kenta Maeda, the Twins will need to assemble a considerably younger and less experienced starting squad for 2022 if they hope to make this season’s struggles a one-year blow.
Since the July 30 trade deadline, much of the Twins’ season has been spent determining which of the young arms currently on the roster could be viable pieces in Minnesota’s next winning team, with the current rotation cobbled together between the outlook with varying degrees of polish, converted reliever John Gant and veteran journeyman Andrew Albers.
In an added challenge, a few of the top pitching prospects who might have glimpsed this season were injured, further limiting the Twins’ ability to answer this question: is there the basis for a starting rotation? successful opening day 2022 on this list?
“We know this is an area that we will have to spend time and fill, both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen,” said Falvey. “We’ve had this in the past, in terms of needing to fill a number of niches. So it’s never been something we haven’t had to discuss.”
Let’s see where it could start.
Probably in the rotation: Bailey Ober, Joe Ryan
Ober probably doesn’t have the top of the spin, but the 6-foot-9 right-hander turned heads by upping his’ 80s fastball as a minor league to an average of 92.3 mph in the big leagues. through some mechanical tweaks, and he’s taken advantage of a harder slider for a 1.61 ERA in his last four starts and a 3.98 ERA overall as a rookie.
Ober didn’t even take part in the Major League’s spring training, but he took the opportunity to probably carve out a place in the 2022 rotation. The only challenge will be his workload, as he started this season. season with a career-high 78 2/3 innings and a history of arm problems, and he will likely end this season somewhere in the 110 innings lineup.
“We feel good with some of the band members that we have,” Falvey said. “Bailey Ober really came out on top. I think a month ago we couldn’t have said that. I hope in a month we can say more about some of our young guys in this team. . “
Unless Ryan completely explodes in his first look with the Twins in September, he could also be a solid bet to open next season in the rotation, given he was considered primarily Major League-ready when ‘He arrived in the organization in the Nelson Cruz exchange and posted good numbers in minors, including triple A, before being promoted to No.6 prospect in the organization.
Could compete for places: Griffin Jax, Drew Strotman, Randy Dobnak
Neither Jax nor Strotman have huge advantages, but Jax worked to add speed to his fastball and adapt more to a fast slide launcher, which led to flashes of success at the MLB – although inconsistent at the moment. Strotman has not had the best results in minors this season (4.80 ERA, 1.52 WHIP in Triple-A), but continues to recover from Tommy John’s operation in 2018 and is ranked 17th in the ‘organization.
There’s no significant track record to talk about here, and the uncertainty surrounding Jax’s business and Strotman’s recovery keeps them from being in the previous category, but given they’re on the list. Of the 40 men, the two will surely be considered as The Twins sort out their options next spring.
Dobnak has had a tough 2021, but he’s signed for the long haul, and the Twins have seen how his lead can play when he’s on his game, which has led to limited success at the major league level in the past. .
Uncertainty due to injury: Jhoan Duran, Josh Winder, Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe
Duran, the organization’s No.5 prospect, probably has the highest potential of anyone in this group, and it would have been a safe bet he would have had a meaningful insight into the major leagues this season if he did. there hadn’t been a nudge. strain that closed it in June after just five appearances for Triple-A St. Paul. Winder, ranked No.9, would also likely have surfaced with the Twins, but was sidelined in August with a shoulder issue.
Smeltzer and Thorpe both have major league experience, but essentially haven’t been a factor this year due to injury – and in Thorpe’s case, he won’t be an option in the minor league. next season, which means he’ll have to break camp with the squad. or not at all.
“I would say you are always disappointed when some of the players that you hope to make the Major League squad here soon get stuck to some extent for different reasons,” said Falvey. “Whether it was for performance or health reasons. And the guys you just mentioned, in their case, it was health reasons. So it’s disappointing.”
There is certainly talent and advantages among this group, but those with fewer question marks – Ober, Ryan, and Dobnak – don’t have the top of the rotation, making them a group with more. quality depth possible than the ace potential. The problem is, Duran’s injury in particular left the Twins in a tough spot, as having more clarity on his potential potential as part of the 2022 rotation would make it much easier for Minnesota to assess their needs.
It’s not hard to imagine a successful rotation emerging from a combination of these players – especially when Jordan Balazovic, Cole Sands, and Matt Canterino are also graduating from the upper minor and the big leagues – and there will be options. available on the free game. -the agent and commerce markets, with notable free agents expected to include Kevin Gausman, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, James Paxton, Robbie Ray, Carlos Rodón, Max Scherzer, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard and Justin Verlander.
In any case, there’s no real way around the uncertainty presented by this group, although the Twins are beefing up their options with a handful of external additions. There is a wide range of outcomes at stake here considering all the youngsters – but there also appears to be a limited cap among the existing group, something the twins will need to consider when they look to 2022 and into the future. -of the.