Predicting the Minnesota Twins 2014 Starting Rotation

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Minnesota Twins: Predicting the 2014 Starting Rotation

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Liam Hendriks, Cole De Vries, Pedro Hernandez and Andrew Albers. Who are these guys? Four pitchers who started games for the Minnesota Twins in 2013, and they are part of a rag-tag group of starters the team has had over the last few seasons. That lack of talent in the starting rotation has been the driving force for the team’s struggles over the last three seasons, and the key to any potential return to playoff contention over the next few years is having stability in that area.

Adding starting pitching was clearly a top priority for the Twins this offseason, and they got an early start by signing Ricky Nolasco around Thanksgiving and Phil Hughes soon after. Neither guy is a staff ace, but bringing them in along with the re-signing of Mike Pelfrey means Minnesota has only one open spot in their starting rotation as spring training gets rolling.

The Twins will have a competition for the No. 5 spot in their starting rotation, with four main competitors for the role-Vance Worley, Scott Diamond, Kyle Gibson and Samuel Deduno. Worley was Minnesota’s Opening Day starter last season before being sent to the minors, Diamond was the de facto staff ace in 2012 but struggled last year, Gibson is a former first-round pick who made his major league debut in 2013 and Deduno has had some success over the last couple seasons while battling poor command.

As the season unfolds the order of Minnesota’s starting rotation will not hold much relevance, but here is my attempt to anoint an Opening Day starter, put the other four in order behind him and give my prediction of who will start the season as the team’s No. 5 starter.

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5. Samuel Deduno

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Deduno may have the best raw stuff of anyone that has a chance to open the season in the Twins’ starting rotation. As long as the shoulder injury that ended his 2013 season early (and required surgery) is not a lingering issue, I expect him to be the No. 5 starter to start the season.

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4. Mike Pelfrey

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Pelfrey did not have a great first season with the Twins in 2013 (5-13, 5.19 ERA), but he allowed three earned runs or less in 11 of his final 15 starts and that was enough for the team to bring him back on a two-year deal this offseason.

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3. Kevin Correia

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Correia was the only Twins’ pitcher to make more than 30 starts (31) and top 160 innings (185.1) last season, so he'll maintain a spot in the middle of the rotation this year.

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2. Phil Hughes

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Getting out of New York should do wonders for Hughes, as he will have less pressure in a smaller market and a much friendlier home park to pitch in. A breakout season could be coming.

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1. Ricky Nolasco

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Nolasco has made at least 31 starts in five of the last six seasons, with double-digit wins in all six of those seasons. That stability, along with the investment the Twins made in him (four years, $49 million), gives Nolasco the nod on March 31 against the Chicago White Sox on the road.

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