2015 was considered by many to be a successful season for the Twins. After 4 consecutive seasons of 90 or more losses, the Twins went 83-79 and finished in second place in the AL Central. A big reason for this turnaround was better pitching, especially by the starters. Even so, the Twins finished just 19th in MLB in ERA in 2015 and allowed the third-most hits of any team.
The starting pitching took a significant hit just before the season began when Ervin Santana was suspended 80 games for drug use. Still, with pitchers like Kyle Gibson and Mike Pelfrey (who pitched surprisingly well the first half of the season), the starters pitched fairly well in the first half. In the second half, Pelfrey struggled (again). Santana also struggled for a while soon after returning. though he had a strong finish to the season. Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco, two of the Twins highest-paid pitchers, were injured, ineffective or both throughout a big portion of the season. One starting pitching bright spot was the performance of rookie Tyler Duffey.
The bullpen was just decent. Glen Perkins was outstanding as closer for the first half of the season, but struggled in the second half. Trevor May, who began 2015 as a starter, was effective once he was moved to the bullpen. Kevin Jepsen, who was acquired at the end of July to be the setup man for Perkins, ended up replacing Perkins as closer and was very effective. However, many of the other pitchers in the bullpen were just OK.
A few predictions for how the Twins pitching will look in 2016: Pelfrey, who is a free agent, will be released and the Twins will start Santana, Hughes, Gibson, Duffey and May. The team might start Nolasco or Tommy Milone instead of May, but indications are the team might want to return May to the starting rotation. As for the bullpen, Perkins should have at least another shot of returning to his role as closer. If he is the closer, Jepsen should be the setup man.
Whatever happens, despite the improvement over the previous four seasons, the Twins must get better pitching to make a deep run in the playoffs!
What do you think the Twins pitching will look like in 2016?
Written by: Sam Graves