My view of Twins starters, Royce Lewis, and hay making [5 Thoughts]
What a time to be a reader of Twins-specific columns by independent media members!
Welcome to new subscribers Michael, S Clair, and A.K. Thanks for your support and I welcome you to the club — just as things are getting good.
The Twins take on the Astros tonight for the first of three, and the One Series at a Time mantra is gaining steam. Please note, discerning reader, that this only applies as we march forward through time. Looking back we can rightly say that Minnesota has won…
*9 home games in a row
*14 of the past 17 overall
*3 consecutive nice, tidy 1-run games
With the timing of these 5 Thoughts columns, I feel like every week I could talk about three specific things and not necessarily run out of things to write about: the starting rotation, Byron Buxton, and the bullpen. I find myself resisting that urge in order to till new ground, but don’t let me let that pendulum swing too far in the other direction, either. These things are majorly important and will help basically set Minnesota’s fate in the A.L. Central in 2022.
With that in mind…
1. Are you worried about starting pitchers and injuries?
Chris Paddack left Sunday’s game with an elbow injury – after Bailey Ober hit the IL (groin) … after Dylan Bundy missed time with COVID, after Sonny Gray hit the I.L. (and has since returned). That’s four starters in quick succession. Time to fret?
The Twins have used 7 starters this year, basically right on par with the plan out of spring training: Joe Ryan, Sonny Gray, Bailey Ober, Dylan Bundy, Chris Paddack, Chris Archer and the latest addition Josh Winder. And while it’s not yet clear how much time Paddack will miss, it would be fair to say that this is the first time that things started to feel a little less settled, at least according to Plan A.
For necessary context, we’ve seen lots of starting pitchers get hurt around the league already this year, and some of those happened in spring training before they even had a chance to “toe the slab,” as Jayce Tingler might say. I was curious about the Twins’ position relative to the rest of the league, so I did a little digging.
Using Sunday as a cutoff, 201 different pitchers started a game so far this season, an average of basically 7 per team. The Royals, Marlins, Yankees and Cardinals are the lucky few who have gotten by with just their first 5 so far. The Rays pace the pack with 10, but they use openers more freely than most, so let’s instead pick on Detroit (9) as the club with the most starters used in basically the first month of the season. (For completeness, five teams have used 8; eight teams have used 7; and eleven teams have used 6.)
I will say at this point that I don’t know the deep-secret internal plans for this week, but on the chance that Bundy can return from COVID in time to make a start Saturday against Cleveland, the Twins wouldn’t need to dip any deeper into their starting pitching reserves. For obvious reasons, I won’t make any assumptions when it comes to that virus and how it might impact Minnesota’s plans.
Mapping out a starting rotation for a month can be a fool’s errand. But given that I qualify in that sense, I did it anyway. I’ll skip the chart and share the conclusion with you here. Making that assumption about Bundy and another one about Ober returning before the end of the month from what appears to be a minor groin injury, even without a quick return for Paddack the Twins are theoretically able to get through the first week of June giving their starters an average of just less than 5 days’ rest.
One thing I think I believe is that the Twins have an enviable staff when it comes to the number of pitchers who are solid representatives for a first-division big league club. One thing a pessimist might worry about is whether they have the high-end arms to contend in October, when a typical pitching staff might be cut in half.
Now you just keep your fingers crossed and hope for good news on a right elbow.