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Ranking the Minnesota Twins Among the American League Central Pitching Staffs

Jimmy MohlerContributor IIIOctober 10, 2016

Ranking the Minnesota Twins Among the American League Central Pitching Staffs

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    2012 was a bit of a bummer for just about anybody taking the mound for the Minnesota Twins. The pitching staff struggled at best—putting up a cumulative 4.77 ERA (5.40 for starters). They gave up the most hits (1,536) and the second-most runs (832) en route to an abysmal 66-96 finish in the American League Central.

    For a Twins team that has always prided itself on the fundamentals of pitching and defense, 2012's outcome left little to be desired.

    It's obvious to say changes needed to be made before this core of players could contend in 2013.

    This offseason the Twins netted starting pitchers Vance Worley, Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey and Rich Harden. While it may seem like a big difference, health and durability will most likely play a role for the oft-injured group. Take into account that three of the four are transitioning from the National League and the outlook seems a little more unfavorable. 

    But there is still a bit of hope. Scott Diamond and Vance Worley should be a reliable pair at the top of the rotation and other youngsters like Kyle Gibson may find success at the major league level. 

    So how does the Twins staff stack up to the others in the A.L. Central? Since pitching wins ballgames, let's take an in-depth look at this division's rotations—from best to worst, pitcher by pitcher.  

1: Detroit Tigers

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    2013 Projected Rotation:

    Justin Verlander

    Doug Fister

    Max Scherzer

    Anibal Sanchez

    Rick Porcello/Drew Smyly


    With a rotation like this, it's easy to see why Detroit has been so successful during the last few years. Spearheaded by former MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, Detroit's starting five is tops in the American League Central. 

    In fact, the rotation's 3.76 ERA was good enough for second in the entire league. 

    Besides the obvious ace, Detroit's final four rotation spots speak nothing but depth.

    Doug Fister has been phenomenal for Detroit—posting a 2.95 ERA since coming over from Seattle. He's got true top-of-the-rotation stuff behind baseball's best pitcher.

    Max Scherzer has been very consistent for the Tigers as well. He's pitched to a 3.89 ERA in his three seasons in Detroit and has started at least 30 games every year since 2009.

    Detroit made a splash in free agency this year to bolster the rotation by bringing back righty Anibal Sanchez on a five-year, $80 million dollar deal. Although that may have been a tad much, you can never pay too much for consistency. In fact, Sanchez's career numbers are very close to Scherzer's: a 3.75 career ERA with nearly 200 innings in each of his last three seasons.

    Depending on the job security of Rick Porcello, either him or Drew Smyly will land the fifth spot in the rotation. Both are capable starters that just about any team would be happy with at the back of the rotation—or even the middle. 

2: Chicago White Sox

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    2013 Projected Rotation:

    Chris Sale

    Jake Peavy

    John Danks

    Gavin Floyd

    Jose Quintana


    Chicago's starting five looks much better after Chris Sale's dominant performance in 2012. The 23-year-old All-Star finished fourth in the AL Cy Young voting with a 3.05 ERA and a 17-8 record.  

    Behind Sale, Jake Peavy had a bit of a career resurgence in 2012. The 13-year veteran was selected to his third All-Star Game en route to a 3.37 ERA. He even won a Gold Glove for good measure. 

    John Danks' injury-shortened and rocky 2012 season left the Sox with some concern, but reports are that he'll be healthy and ready to pitch in 2013. 

    Gavin Floyd has been a workhorse for the White Sox, but his 4.46 ERA isn't exactly scorching. The young Jose Quintana should be fun to watch next year. He's got a lot of upside for a guy towards the bottom of a rotation.  

    If these five can remain healthy and competitive, this rotation could be on par with Detroit's stellar starting five. 

3: Kansas City Royals

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    2013 Projected Rotation:

    James Shields

    Jeremy Guthrie

    Ervin Santana

    Bruce Chen

    Luke Hochevar/Luis Mendoza

     

    The addition of James Shields was a big one for a Royals starting five that didn't impress in 2012. Without the former Tampa Bay Rays ace, Kansas City starters pitched to a 5.01 ERA last season. 

    Jeremy Guthrie was very good in his first chapter with the Royals—posting a 3.16 ERA in 14 starts. He could be an effective No. 2 starter if he can remain somewhere near his 2012 numbers. 

    Ervin Santana was an interesting addition this offseason. He's been very successful at the major league level. He's also been very inconsistent. Coming off a poor 2012 campaign in which he threw to a lofty 5.16 ERA, the Royals will be hoping he can recapture a bit of his former self. One thing they'll count on is innings: Santana is a workhorse who can easily top the 200-inning mark.

    Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar and Luis Mendoza will likely play a bit of musical chairs for the final two spots. But it may be a best-of-the-worst scenario: all sport a career ERA of at least 4.60. 

4: Minnesota Twins

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    2013 Projected Rotation:

    Scott Diamond

    Vance Worley

    Mike Pelfrey

    Kevin Correia

    Kyle Gibson

     

    The Twins starters racked up a nauseatingly high 5.40 ERA in 2012—dead last in the American league and ahead of only the Colorado Rockies for worst in the bigs.

    The newest additions to the rotation should help quell that nausea, but Minnesota hasn't quite done enough to pitch on the level of the Tigers or White Sox.

    Vance Worley surely helps, but beyond him and Scott Diamond this rotation looks a little shady.

    Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey are National League ground-ball pitchers who have never taken the mound in the American League.

    Kyle Gibson and the rest of the lot are unproven at the major league level, but Gibson could be a bright spot in the rotation.

    All in all, the Twins need to do more. They've been linked to free agent Joe Saunders in the last couple days which could help—but only a big move for a front-line starter will help pitch the Twins out of the bottom of the division in 2013.  

5: Cleveland Indians

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    2013 Projected Rotation:

    Justin Masterson

    Ubaldo Jimenez

    Zach McAllister

    Trevor Bauer

    Brett Myers


    The Indians' starting five was just about on par with the Twins for the worst in all of baseball in 2012: They posted a 5.25 ERA and 1.51 WHIP.

    It was another rough season for Ubaldo Jimenez, who came to Cleveland after dominating in the National League. Jimenez has a 5.32 ERA stretched out over his two years as an Indian. The trade clearly hasn't gone as hoped. 

    Even Justin Masterson was bad in 2012. After a breakout 2011 season, Masterson regressed in a major way—posting a 4.93 ERA

    One bright spot for the Indians' future is Trevor Bauer. After being acquired in the three-team trade that sent Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati, Bauer will bring his crazy warm up antics and fiery demeanor to Cleveland. He's got great stuff and has a ton of upside if he can stick at the big league level.   

    The final two spots may be filled by Zach McAllister and the newly acquired Brett Myers.

    This rotation is tricky. Guys like Masterson and Jimenez have been dominant before but remain inconsistent. If the top of the rotation can sort things out, the Indians' starting five could be anywhere from terrible (see 2012) to average  

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