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Minnesota Twins

Twins Starting Rotation: How Much Worse Can It Get?

Here is a fun fact: the Minnesota Twins starting rotation ranks dead last in the major leagues with an ERA of 6.59. To put that into perspective, the Boston Red Sox have the second worst ERA with a 5.24. The Twins starters also rank dead last in HR per 9 innings (1.76), K’s per 9 innings (4.92) and HR to fly ball ratio (17%) while pitching 21 of their first 37 games in what is considered be one of the most pitcher friendly parks in the majors. With numbers like those it’s easy to understand why the Twins own the worst record in baseball.

It would be easy to dismiss the statistics considering that a bad stretch of outings could kill the entire rotations numbers so early on in the season but that’s not the case with the Twins. Their futility is truly a team effort.

Carl Pavano

The Twins supposed ace is leading the pack with an ERA of 5.14. His velocity is down and his ability to eat innings has completely vanished, meaning his biggest asset to the organization is no longer there. This could be due to a recently diagnosed shoulder strain but so far his numbers are eerily similar to the numbers he posted in 2011. Whether its injury or diminishing skills doesn’t matter, the Twins need Pavano to be their stop gap every five days so the bullpen can stay fresh.

Jason Marquis

The Twins big offseason signing has sputtered out of the gate. Similarly to Pavano, Marquis has a reputation of being an innings eater but has managed to pitch just a total of 32 innings in his six starts. Opponents are hitting .346 off of him and his strikeout to walk ratio is 13/12. What is most concerning is his demeanor on the mound. In his recent loss to the Indians he looked genuinely disinterested and sluggish. His leash will be a little longer due to his salary but don’t be surprised if he is released if he fails to improve in his next few starts.

Nick Blackburn

Luckily for Blackburn he was placed on the DL today before he could be relegated to the bullpen or optioned to AAA. Blackburn is a sinkerball pitcher whose ball does not sink. Fans can probably remember the days when Blackburn was on, where the ball would be mashed into the ground by opposing hitters rather than into the stands. A lot of pitching is mental and Blackburn has lost the mental part of the game. After three seasons of below average results it’s time to part with him.

Francisco Liriano

After failing to get out of the fifth inning in all six of his starts Liriano has been relegated to relief duties. Gardenhire and Anderson have stated that the move isn’t permanent but it’s hard to imagine Liriano returning to the rotation. His once deadly slider has been negated by his inability to locate his fastball. It’s a sad thing to witness considering in 2006 he was a sure fire ace. It’s time for the Twins to take off the blinders and see that Liriano will never return to form. Hopefully he can start fresh somewhere else because the talent is there, the mentality just isn’t.

Scott Diamond

Diamond is the lone bright spot in the black hole that is the Twins starting rotation. Since being called up from Rochester he has pitched 14 scoreless innings and has walked just one. It’s not a significant sample size and it’s unlikely that Diamond will maintain this level of effectiveness but the Twins will take whatever they can get at this. His location has been spot on and his curveball has a sharper break than the one we witnessed in September last year. As long as he can produce quality starts he will be a mainstay in the rotation.

The Rest

P.J. Walters has taken over Liriano’s spot in the rotation and his first game was a positive one. He didn’t get the win but he held the Blue Jays to just two runs over six innings. His career numbers aren’t spectacular but like Diamond, all he needs to do is produce quality starts in order to stick in the rotation.

Blackburn’s spot in the rotation will most likely come down to either Anthony Swarzak or Brian Duensing. The possibility of recalling Liam Hendricks to the majors is gone considering Ben Revere has been brought up in the wake of Blackburn’s DL stint. Swarzak has seen time in the starter’s role earlier this season and didn’t impress. Chances are Duensing will be stretched out from his relieving duties and return to the role he held during most of the 2011 season.

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