A day after announcing that Vance Worley will be the starting pitcher on opening day for the Minnesota Twins, the team announced Thursday the remaining starters for the opening series against the Detroit Tigers. The two pitchers that will face the Tigers in games two and three will be Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey respectively. Neither pitcher has had a great spring, but Pelfrey has shown flashes of success and has solidified a spot in the middle of the Twins’ rotation.
For the spring, Pelfrey has assembled a 1-1 record with a 5.52 ERA while surrendering 19 hits in 14.2 innings of work. Correia hasn’t fared much better as he accumulated a 0-2 record with a 6.30 ERA while surrendering 27 hits in 20 innings of work. Combine those stats with Worley’s 0-1 record with a 5.73 ERA over 22 innings and the top three starters in the Twins’ rotation to start the season will have a combined 1-4 record with a 5.85 ERA in 18.73 innings pitched. And to think, these stats are in spring training!
For a rotation who totaled a combined 4.77 ERA during the 2012 season, this year’s rotation looks like it may be even worse than last season. Granted this year’s team is without the services of, arguably, its best pitcher Scott Diamond and the resurgent Samuel Deduno for the first part of the season as each pitcher recovers from injury. Regardless of the injuries, the first three starters in the rotation raise a lot of concerns for a staff hoping to improve on last year’s dismal performance.
Correia has always given me a poor impression based off the fact he didn’t finish the year in the rotation last season and he was vastly overpaid; those two factors are never a good combination. In addition, Correia has done nothing this spring to alleviate or disprove the notion that he can be any more than an innings eater on any major league staff. I hate to be hard on Correia because he is a big league pitcher, but for the money the Twins’ spent on him this off-season, he has to be more than what he currently is.
With Pelfrey and Worley, the excuse of coming off an injury can only go on for so long. Each has shown signs of success during the spring, which is more than what can be said on Correia’s behalf, but each has also had their fair share of struggles. What gives a glimmer of hope with these two pitchers is that they have had some mild success in their past. At this point and as dire of a situation that the Twins’ pitching staff is in, they will take any sign of success they can get.
As sad as it may seem, the Twins’ two best pitchers in the rotation—if you judge performance based off the impressions left by spring training—are the number four and five starters in the rotation which are Cole De Vries and Liam Hendriks. Unfortunately, Hendriks took a line drive off his pitching hand on Tuesday and his status to begin the season is now in question as well. If these two pitchers can show signs of promise, they will be leaned upon heavily as the season wears on. In addition, each player is young enough to earn more slack than the veterans at the top of the rotation because of their age and inexperience.
If this article wants to make you curl up into a ball and go on a 24 hour binge of watching the 1991 World Series on DVD, where the Twins beat the Atlanta Braves, in order to relive the glory years and keep your sanity, I do not blame you. I also would suggest you buy the 1987 World Series DVD as well, just in case the ’91 series isn’t enough to get you through the weekend or the regular season.
It may be a long season in Twins’ Territory if the rotation cannot improve and the pitchers remain unhealthy, but there is help on the horizon. The Twins’ most talented pitchers are on the rise throughout the minors, and soon enough they will be riding in on their white horses to save the day. It is the beginning of baseball season and it’s always a time of the year for optimism and thanks for the return of America’s pastime. That alone, should put a smile on your face.