Monday, August 18, 2014

Wake Me Up When September Ends: Starting Rotation

This is the first in a series of posts looking at different parts of the Twins roster as the season starts to wind down. There have been some rough moments at the end of the last few seasons. The moto of the last few seasons might have been "Wake Me Up When September Ends" but this season might be a little different as there seems to be a little hope on the horizon. That hope might mean you won't want to sleep through this September.

August is slowly winding down and this points towards another Twins season coming to an end. Many fans can tune out at this time of year. The NFL football season is ramping up, students are heading back to school, and there's just less time to fit baseball into people's crazy schedules.

There hasn't been much of a reason to watch the Twins during the last couple of Septembers. The team was trotting out a starting rotation composed of a combination of non-prospects and aging veterans, which can be a lethal combination. Things might be shaping up to be a little better this September but the jury is still out on how this year's crop of starters will fare.

2014: Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone, Ricky Nolasco, Trevor May
This could very well be the same five men who start will compose the 2015 Opening Day rotation. Hughes and Gibson have had some up and down moments in the second half but they have been the most consistent starters this season. Milone had the worst start of his career during this weekend's typhoon at Target Field. The Twins are still going to want to see more of him in the last month since he just joined the organization. Nolasco is coming off a month on the DL and he's got a lot to prove to the Twins fan base. May has been a little wild so far but the Twins need him to show that he can pitch at the big league level.

2013: Scott Diamond, Kevin Correia, Andrew Albers, Cole De Vries, Mike Pelfrey
8-20 team record in September
The Twins failed to reach double digits in wins during two months last season and one of those months happened to be September. The team's leaders in wins for the month were Anthony Swarzak and Casey Fien. None of the starters had more than one win. Pelfrey is the only member of the list to still be with the Twins and he has been injured for most of this season. Diamond is now part of the Reds organization but his ERA is north of 5.00 since joining their Triple-A squad. Correia was leading the AL in losses before the Twins dealt him to the Dodgers. De Vries has since retired and started flipping houses (sound like something the Hulk would do). Albers has played this season over in Korea and it's been a rough year to say the least.

2012: Scott Diamond, Sam Deduno, Liam Hendriks, PJ Walters, Esmerling Vasquez
13-18 team record in Sept/Oct
Five games under .500 is not such a bad record when considering the fearsome five-some the Twins showcased a couple years ago. Diamond was in the middle of a breakout season but he posted a 2-3 record with a 4.79 ERA in six starts over the last month. Deduno was getting his first longer look with the Twins and he got roughed up losing three of his last five starts. He didn't make it past the fourth inning in his final three outings. Hendriks finally earned his first big league win and he's only won two other big league games since that first victory. Walters and Vasquez didn't earn a win in the month and both had ERA's of over 5.50.

The Twins might not be on their way to a 20-win month to close out the year but the rotation looks improved over the past couple of years. If May can iron out some of his kinks and Nolasco can look like the pitcher he was before coming to Minnesota, there could be some good things happening in September.

Make sure to stay awake for it.

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