Pitching, pitching and a little more pitching is what the Minnesota Twins are looking for this spring training. When the Twins opened camp, it looked to be that the rotation was set except for the fifth spot, but now an additional spot has opened up for the initial part of the season.
Today, the Twins announced last year’s lone bright spot in the rotation, Scott Diamond, will begin the regular season on the disabled list after surgery for bone chips in his elbow in December. Diamond is pitching; he pitched in a Double-A game on Monday but won’t be able to break camp with the Twins. Diamond is aiming for April 12 to debut for the Twins.
To take another name off of the big board of starters, the Twins optioned highly touted prospect Kyle Gibson to Triple-A Rochester on Thursday. The 25-year-old is still working back from Tommy John surgery. Most noticeably, Gibson’s control has not yet returned hence his assignment to Triple-A.
The Twins currently have three starters that are virtual locks for the Opening Day rotation: Vance Worley, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey. The only real question that remains with these select three is whom we’ll get the pleasure of matching up against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers on Opening Day. Many believe Vance Worley will be the guy, but Kevin Correia could sneak up and grab the start.
Now the Twins must choose between four men for the final two spots in the rotation: Cole De Vries, P.J. Walters, Samuel Deduno and Liam Hendriks.
Cole De Vries appears to be very close to locking down the fourth spot in the rotation after a very impressive spring so far. As much of the pitching staff has been less than spectacular, De Vries has been a bright spot only giving up four hits, three walks and two runs in 10 innings in five appearances. That results in an ERA of 0.90 and a WHIP of 0.700.
P.J. Walters has had a pretty good spring as well; he’s also pitched 10 innings in five games giving up four hits and six walks during his time on the mound. The interesting thing about Walters’ spring so far is that he has yet to give up a run, resulting in an obvious ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 1.000.
Samuel Deduno has been inconsistently impressive in the past month but not in Twins camp. So far this spring, Deduno has only pitched an inning in a Twins uniform, in which giving up a hit and plunking a batter are the only highlights.
Deduno has had some bright spots in the World Baseball Classic as a member of the Dominican Republic squad. In his four-inning start against the U.S., he only gave up one run, and in four innings against Spain, he didn’t allow a run.
The downside of Deduno is he couldn’t throw the ball over the plate in those games. Against the U.S., Deduno threw 80 pitches: 46 strikes, 34 balls. He had the same problem against Spain when he threw 64 pitches: 45 strikes, 19 balls.
Stats wise it appears that Liam Hendriks is behind the eight-ball. Hendriks has pitched 15 innings in five games but has given up 18 hits and 10 runs all of which were earned. Hendriks has earned himself a 6.00 ERA and a 1.400 WHIP.
Not only will it be important for these pitchers to impress in the last week and a half of spring but also to have a good initial two starts in the regular season with Scott Diamond returning very soon. Further initiative can be found waiting in Triple-A with Kyle Gibson, who will be in the big league rotation once he regains his control to a livable extent.
The Twins knew they’d have a lot of pitching questions, but I don’t think anyone expected them to have to find two starters out of camp. It really does seem like one of the most Twins things to happen after the past two seasons, though.