Entering Spring Training, Samuel Deduno was favored to walk away with the Minnesota Twins’ fifth and final starting rotation spot. Now on the eve of Opening Day, Deduno will begin 2014 throwing out of Minnesota’s bullpen. Deduno did nothing to play himself out of the starting rotation this spring but rather earned a more beneficial spot for both him and the Twins as a whole.
Deduno only started 18 games for the Twins last season but was easily the team’s most productive starting hurler. In 108 innings, he sported a 3.83 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 5.6 K/9. Deduno has great stuff and only struggles at times with his control and limited longevity.
In 33 career starts, Deduno has thrown 187 innings, which is an average of only 5.2 innings per outing. At 30 years old, he seems to be a better fit as a reliever and carries a 3.18 ERA in a limited amount of non-starting appearances. In 15.1 innings of strictly relief work this spring, Deduno rocked a 1.76 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 9.9 K/9.
The Twins will look to slowly transition Deduno into his new bullpen role, at least to begin the year. Expect Deduno to work mostly in non-pressure situations of long relief but eventually gain a middle-relief or setup-like role with Minnesota. He has truly impressive stuff, which will only improve when not inhibited by a late-inning pitch count.
While he’s better served coming out of the bullpen, Deduno’s career as a starter may not be over just yet either. Kyle Gibson claimed the Twins’ final rotation spot for the upcoming season, and while he has outstanding potential, he struggled greatly in his 2013 rookie season. Last year, Gibson allowed a 6.53 ERA and 1.75 WHIP through 51 innings pitched. If he struggles to find his groove again in 2014, Deduno will be ready to step up and anchor Minnesota’s rotation once again.
In whatever role he’s needed, expect Deduno to have a breakout 2014 campaign with the Twins.