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The Minnesota Twins 2015 Projected Starting Rotation

by Dan Gunderson

Did we all enjoy Wednesday's game? Ricky Nolasco is the bomb! Bomb as in one of the worst pitchers to ever pitch during Ron Gardenhire's tenure as Twins' manager. He is a complete tire fire. He won't be pitching for the Twins next season.

Another tire fire, as of late, has been Trevor May. The big time prospect of the Twins has done everything to make sure Twins fans sour on him for the next four years. I know, it is early, but dude. THROW A STRIKE! Or, at least, be competent. Might as well throw Yohan Pino out there.

What's that? He already is a starter for the Twins?

The 2014 pitching rotation has been bad but there is some optimism to be had for 2015. As I wrote on Monday, the projected Opening Day line-up for the Twins in 2015 definitely has some holes. It still could serve as a somewhat formidable offense with the likes of Kennys Vargas, Brian Dozier, Danny Santana and Joe Mauer.

The 2015 pitching staff could be (cross all the fingers) better than this year's version. Here is who I believe will be in the starting rotation in 2015.

1. Phil Hughes
2. Kyle Gibson
3. Trevor May
4. Alex Meyer
5. ????????

We will start with Hughes, who has been a breath of fresh air for the Twins this year. Minnesota has made some bad decisions in free agency when it comes to signing pitchers. Kevin Correia, Ricky Nolasco and Mike Pelfrey are a few that come to mind. Hughes has been different. After burning out with the New York Yankees, Hughes came to Minnesota on the cheap and has delivered.

The glamour stats are not eye popping, 13-8 with a 3.76 ERA, but it his the amount of walks he has given up this year or lack thereof. In 158 innings pitched, Hughes has walked 15 batters. Good enough for .9 walks per nine innings and a strikeout to walk ratio of 9.33. He also is giving up .6 home runs per nine innings, an amazing stat when you consider Hughes is viewed as a fly ball pitcher.

The next guy in the rotation, Kyle Gibson, is like a bad high school relationship. When it is good, no one really notices because it is what you hope and expect. When it is bad, like slamming lockers and screaming at each other in class bad, you notice. Here are the lines from Gibson's last four starts.

August 3: 6.0 IP /3 R /3 ER /6 K /0 BB / W
August 8:
5.0 IP / 6 R / 5 ER / 3 K / 5 BB / L
August 13:
7.2 IP / 1 R / 1 ER / 4 K / 2 BB / W
August
19: 5.1 IP / 5 R / 5 ER / 4 K / 1 BB / ND

As you can tell, consistency is not high up on his list. The one thing we do have to remember is that this is Gibson's first full year as a starting pitcher in the majors and he has shown signs of being a very good number two starter behind Hughes. The hope is that next year he will improve and become more consistence in his starts.

The other two mention, Trevor May and Alex Meyer, are still unknowns. We have seen what May has done in his limited action at the majors (0-2 /9 IP / 9.00 ERA / 13 H / 13 BB / 3 K) and we won't see what Meyer can do until next season. Don't jump ship on May since it has only been nine innings of major league work. You usually don't start to form a solid opinion on a pitcher until they reach the 100 inning mark, something that May will reach next year, hopefully.

Even then, the jury could still be out on May. Your hope is that the control issues, which plagued him in the minors as well, can be corrected. If he starts throwing strikes, everything else should fall into place.

The last spot in the rotation is still a mystery, hence the question marks. The Twins will have Nolasco under contract, along with Pelfrey. You also have Tommy Milone, the pitcher the Twins recieved when they sent Sam Fuld to the Oakland A's. I'm not confident any of those three guys will be around the entire season, although if I had to pick on to end up on the opening day roster, I would hope it is Milone.

The reason I don't have much confidence in seeing those guys make it the entire year is because of this guy .

Jose Berrios, a Twins minor league prospect that can reach the upper 90s on his fastball and has just been promoted to AA New Britain. While his time in AA will be short, the stuff he contains is worth watching. He will most likely start next season at AA and if he continues to dominate there, he will move up to AAA.

Expect him to be on the minds of the Twins brass, especially if the number five starter starts to fail, as the season goes along. If all things work out, Berrios could make an appearance in the majors by August or September of next season. Of course, at only 20 years young, he isn't somebody the Twins need to rush to the majors.

However, if the Twins believe they can contend for a playoff spot in 2015, and I believe they can as well, Berrios may be the factor that can pitch them over the hump in 2015. After watching runner after runner cross home plate against the Twins the last four years, the 2015 rotation looks to be a solid bet to stopping that trend.