Thursday, February 11, 2010

2010 Twins Starting Rotation Preview

One of the presumed strengths for the Twins entering the 2009 season was their young starting rotation that was backed by an even stronger bullpen. The problem with this was that it was all preseason speculation. The injury bug hit the Twins starting five and so the team had to look deep into its farm system to survive the season as Central Division Champions. The outlook for the 2010 season is filled with renewed optimism. The Twins found out last season that their farm system is deep with adequate pitching prospects, but the team is still looking for someone to step up as their true number one. The real battle this Spring Training will be for who will get the final spot in the rotation. Another intriguing aspect will be how long the team sticks with the starters that make the team out of Spring Training, if they are struggling.

2010 Twins Starting Rotation

1. Carl Pavano (RH) The only true veteran that appears on the staff. He should provide veteran leadership for the younger pitchers. Pavano came over late in the year and pitched well enough to earn a return trip with the Twins for the 2010 Season. He pitch very well against the Central Division last season. There are still questions about whether or not he will be able to stay healthy for a full season.

2. Nick Blackburn (RH) Blackburn has pitched great in two of the highest pressure games that the Twins have been in the past two seasons, even though the Twins lost both of these contests (Game 163 in 2008 and ALDS Game 2 in 2009). He led the team in ERA, Innings Pitched, and Complete Games during the 2009 campaign. His biggest weakness may be his tendency to over think his pitch selection.

3. Scott Baker (RH) Baker has been emerging as a viable starter for the Twins over the course of the last half decade. He always seems close to becoming a top end of the rotation stater but this has yet to come to fruition. In 2009, he led the team in wins, strikeouts, and shutouts (tied). The main fault that has haunted him during his career is his inclination to give up home-runs.

4. Kevin Slowey (RH) Slowey was on pace for a breakout season in 2009 but wrist surgery cost him and the Twins a monster year last season. Slowey had a chance to make the AL All-Star Team last season and hopefully his wrist won't impact him this season. His health might be the biggest injury concern for the Twins this season.

5. The Lefties (Francisco Liriano, Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins) The fight for the fifth spot in the starting rotation is going to be one of the highly contested battles during Spring Training. Entering Spring Training the advantage would have to go to Liriano and the progress that he made during the off season. Perkins would be the next choice for the Twins because of the experience that he offers over Duensing. Perkins is also coming off an elbow injury last season so his performance in Spring Training could prove a lot about him. Perkins most likely will come out of the bullpen at the beginning of the season, but if there is any questions about the other starters he would be the first to step into the rotation. Duensing pitched well in a lot of big games last season but he needs some more work. He will start the season at Rochester but has a chance to be called up if the team needs him.

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