March 8, 2018

Do the Twins need more pitching? Yes, they do

After the busy offseason the Twins had, it might come as a surprise to think that the Twins would entertain more starting pitcher now that Anibal Sanchez, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda are in the house. Pineda is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery, while Odorizzi has a job. Odorizzi improved to 2-0 this spring with an 8-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday.

So far, the Twins rotation consists of Ervin Santana, Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson and Odorizzi. But who will earn that fifth spot? That’s not clear and may explain why the Twins continue to look for another starter. The Pioneer Press reported Tuesday that the Twins made a two-year, $20 million offer to free agent Lance Lynn of the St. Louis Cardinals and he turned them down, likely wanting a longer term deal and more money.

Why the need for Lynn? Other than his 72 wins and a career ERA of 3.38, no one has stepped up this spring to secure that fifth spot. Sanchez got hit hard in his last outing and sent his ERA through the roof to 13.50. And Adalberto Mejia, who had a spot in the rotation last season, still hasn’t found his groove. In his three appearances so far, he has no decisions and an ERA of 5.63.

If a deal for Lynn can’t be worked out, and Sanchez and Mejia underwhelm, then a possible candidate for that job is Aaron Slegers, who has pitched seven innings this spring with a 3.86 ERA. Slegers filled a hole in the rotation last season and even delivered a 4-2 win over the Cleveland Indians in August. In that start, he went six-plus innings and limited the red-hot Tribe to two runs.

Extra innings…

-That same Pioneer Press report noted that the Twins made a run at C.C. Sabathia before he re-signed with the New York Yankees.

-The offense has come around since getting off to a slow start in February. The Twins picked up a 9-8 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday and the aforementioned 8-1 victory over the Red Sox on Wednesday. In Tuesday’s win, the Twins got production out of Miguel Sano, Joe Mauer, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Ehire Adrianza, who had two more hits to raise his spring batting average to .348. Sano, Mauer, Buxton and Kepler all hit doubles. In Wednesday’s game, Sano doubled again, and they also got two hits apiece from Logan Morrison, Kepler and Robbie Grossman.

-I was a little disappointed to see pitcher Zack Littell get cut and sent down to the minors on Wednesday. In three games this spring, Littell struck out eight in five innings of work, recorded two saves and ended his spring training with a 1.80 ERA. In 2017, Littell spent time with three minor league teams and went a combined 19-1 with a 2.12 ERA. So, what’s not to like?

-The Twins are off Thursday, then Jose Berrios gets the ball Friday versus the Tampa Bay Rays.

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.