Getting to know the 2012 Minnesota Twins – Starting Pitchers + Players To Watch For
It will be interesting to see how the season unfolds, as the Twins can be as good as their health allows them to be. If they stay healthy, they could finish in the upper end of the division. But if they endure a lot of injuries again then they will once again be near the bottom. We can only wait and see what happens.
Let’s take a look at their lineup for the season:
The Starting Pitchers
Pavano will once again be given the title of Opening Day starter. Pavano was one of the many Twins starters to take their lumps last year, and hopes to have a strong season this year. Pavano pitched to a 6.17 ERA this spring, but showed his trademark control and should be able to pitch deeper into games this year with an improved infield defense.
Liriano faces the difficult task of being the only starter on the staff who can provide strikeout potential. Liriano, a free agent after the season, should be able to provide a strong season after a very successful spring, in which he posted a 2.33 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 27 innings. If Liriano can pitch on par with those numbers and finally harness his potential, he will be able to give the rotation a huge lift they desperately need.
Hendriks will be making at least a couple turns through the rotation to start the year with Scott Baker’s injury and Jason Marquis needing additional time to get up to speed. Hendriks had a great spring; posting a 2.84 ERA and looks ready to take a starting job full time. The big question is whether or not he will be able to do that against the tough hitters in the Central division, but only time will tell on that.
Blackburn might have been the happiest Twins starter to see upgrades on the infield defense due to his reliance on his sinker. Blackburn had a great spring after battling arm injuries during the second half of the season last year. His 2.12 ERA this spring gives some hope that he will be able to go back to the innings eater he was a few years ago
Players To Watch For
Baker will start the season on the disabled list after experiencing tendinitis. Baker has great stuff and can be a top of the rotation starter if healthy, but health continues to be a problem for Baker, having missed time due to injuries. For the Twins to succeed this season, they need Baker to be in the rotation for as much of the year as possible. Baker will need to build up his arm strength, as he only started 2 games this spring and finished with a 13.50 ERA. But if he is healthy, Baker will be a viable option for the Twins this year.
Marquis was signed to be the 5th starter and to provide a veteran presence to eat innings at the back of the rotation. Marquis has previous experience at the major league level in the national league with the Braves, Cardinals, Rockies, Cubs, Nationals and Diamondbacks. Marquis was on track for starting the season until his daughter was involved in a serious bike accident, but she is doing better so Marquis is back with the team. He will begin the season in the minors to get his arm strength up and then make his starts every 5th day. Marquis pitched to an 8.53 ERA this spring, although only in 4 starts so there is time for him to improve on that and contribute to the major league team.
Dozier impressed this spring, hitting .277 and showing power and poise. Dozier may be the answer at a position the Twins haven’t had a long term solution for since Jason Bartlett was traded. If Casilla is injured or struggles, Jamey Carroll may move to second to make room for Dozier, but we will have to wait and see what happens there. One thing is clear; Dozier is close to being a major leaguer.
Benson is another top prospect that figures to be called up quickly if anyone sustains an injury. Benson had a good spring, hitting .262 with a couple of homeruns. Benson played last September for the Twins, but struggled at the plate and it was deemed he needed more at bats before he was ready for major league action. If one of the starting outfields goes down with an injury expect Benson to be the first one to get called up.