Friday, November 8, 2013

Eye on 2014: Outlining the starting rotation

It's time for the Twins to commit a rotation job to Kyle Gibson.
This is already the running theme of the offseason for the Minnesota Twins: Fix the starting rotation.

Oh, the Twins had plenty of other issues. They were near the bottom of the league in runs scored, so the hitters weren't real productive. They were last in the American League in defensive efficiency — the percentage of balls in play they turned into outs — so the glovework wasn't helping.

There's good reason to focus on the rotation. The wave of top-prospect talent that's coming figures to fix those offensive and defensive woes (at least as long as the aching joints of Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton aren't so serious as to short-circuit their promise). Those problems will largely fix themselves without importing outside talent.

It's harder to make that case about the rotation, partly because the Twins are light on quality arms in the upper levels of the farm system and partly because the attrition rate for pitchers is so high.

Let's do a rough draft of the 2014 rotation:

Kevin Correia will be part of it. Not that he's, you know, good.  He wouldn't crack the five-man rotation of any of the four teams that got past the wild-card round of the playoffs. But he's under contract, and the Twins won't have five better options. He's the best starter they have, which is another way of stating the problem.

Kyle Gibson. He's 26 already — 26 and still unestablished. It's time for the 2009 first-round pick to sink or swim.

Another 2013 holdover. One arm from the bunch of (alphabetically) Andrew Albers, Sam Deduno, Scott Diamond, Liam Hendriks and Vince Worley. I figure that, out of those five, one is capable of providing a decent season. There's a case to be made for each; there's drawbacks to each. I have no problem with devoting a rotation spot to one. I don't want to rely on those five to fill two spots. It's OK to expect something from 20 percent of that field; 40 percent is pushing it.

Left out of this are the two power arms who spent 2013 in Double A New Britain and are currently working in the Arizona Fall League, Alex Meyer and Trevor May. Meyer had arm issues in midseason, May hasn't mastered his control. I don't expect them to jump up to the American League to start the season. Midseason at best with these two.

That leaves two rotation spots to fill from the outside, whether via free agency or trade. We'll get into that in future posts.

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