Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Twins rotation gets the finger

Ervin Santana had surgery on the middle finger of his pitching hand and isn't expected to join the Twins rotation until mid April at the earliest, perhaps not until May.

One can almost feel the panic rising among the fans. Even with Santana, the Minnesota rotation isn't particularly strong or deep. Even with Santana, the Twins had signaled their intent of adding at least one, preferably two, established starters who could slot into the first three spots in the rotation.

Reality check: Santana's finger doesn't add significantly to that urgency. It feels like it does because we focus on that Opening Day roster, but reality is that pretty much every team is going to use about 10 starting pitchers over the course of the season. Santana won't make 34 starts in 2018 as he did in 2017, but he's hardly out for the season. The Twins have to dip into their depth? We knew they would anyway.

And having said that, the April rotation now projects to be something like:

  • Jose Berrios
  • Kyle Gibson
  • Aldaberto Mejia
  • Phil Hughes
  • somebody from the prospects pile of Aaron Slegers, Felix Jose, Stephen Gonsalves, Dietrich Enns and Zach Littell
The 1970 Baltimore Orioles or mid-90's Atlanta Braves, that ain't.

I listed Hughes in the fourth spot because he's a veteran with a sizable contract, but the Twins may have him in mind for the bullpen in the wake of his latest bout of surgery. He may actually belong in the last group fighting for a rotation spot -- which is where I figured he was when I thought Santana was healthy -- or he may not be in the running at all. (Trevor May is tweeting optimistically about his rehab progress, but he's not expected back until May at the earliest, and, like Hughes, may be viewed more as a bullpen piece as he returns from his ligament replacement.)

But I do not believe that will indeed be the April rotation. There will be an addition. There may be some subtractions. Rotations are almost always a work in progress, even before spring training begins. 

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