Minnesota Twins Starters Project Top-10 in MLB; Near Best in AL

MLB: ALDS-Minnesota Twins at Houston Astros
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The Minnesota Twins let arguably their best pitcher, Sonny Gray, go in free agency this offseason, along with one of their back-rotation staples, Kenta Maeda. Those decisions, especially Gray, will make the Twins starting rotation worse, come summertime. There’s really no denying that fact.

Minnesota Twins starters project Top-10 in MLB

Nonetheless, Twins starters still project as the 6th-best rotation in Major League Baseball (2nd in American League) for 2024, according to FanGraphs.com, with a projected WAR of 13.0.

Fangraphs projects that Pablo Lopez will butt up against the 200 IP mark and do it while striking out 10 batters per nine innings, with a 3.51 ERA and 4.1 WAR. They also expect Joe Ryan to take a step forward, throwing 179 innings with a 4.05 ERA. From there, the starters shuffle into place as expected, for now.

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Bailey Ober slots in as the 3rd starter (155 IP, 4.26 ERA), followed by Chris Paddack (126 IP, 4.31 ERA) and Louie Varland (101 IP, 4.12 ERA) as the 5th and final regular starter. Simeon Woods Richardson, the Twins top starter prospect with a real chance of impacting the roster in 2024, is projected to get 65 innings as the 6th starter.

Twins Starting Pitchers Projected Stats – 2024 (Fangraphs)

Starting
Pitcher
IPK/9BB/9HR/9BABIPLOB%ERAFIPWAR
Pablo López196.010.02.51.0.29773.8%3.513.504.1
Joe Ryan179.09.92.41.4.28573.1%4.054.062.6
Bailey Ober155.08.82.21.5.29072.1%4.264.262.0
Chris Paddack126.08.02.21.3.29871.1%4.314.271.8
Louie Varland101.08.62.61.2.29872.0%4.124.131.3
Simeon Woods Richardson65.07.23.81.4.29570.3%4.894.970.4
Matt Festa46.07.84.11.5.29369.8%5.105.150.1
Matt Canterino37.09.03.71.4.29371.5%4.574.570.3
Brent Headrick18.08.63.01.3.28872.5%4.264.430.2
Pierson Ohl9.07.12.01.4.29670.5%4.454.460.1
Total931.09.02.61.3.29372.2%4.164.1613.0
Fangraphs.com

The Twins starting rotation has a lot of talent, but much of it is unproven. With Gray gone, Pablo Lopez is the obvious ace and he is getting offseason love as a 2024 Cy Young candidate.

Assuming Lopez pitches well, like he has his entire career, the rotation’s overall success will depend on a few things that are impossible to predict in December. Minnesota’s remaining starters are young and full of MLB experience, which should only make them better. Still, baseball is a funny game.

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Starters not named Pablo Lopez will determine rotation success

Can Joe Ryan prove he is ready to be a legitimate #2 on a playoff-caliber roster, for example? Chris Paddack looked good in a relief role, late last season, after returning from 1.5 seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery.

That doesn’t mean Paddack will prove to be a plus-caliber starter, over the course of 125+ innings, though. On the other hand, he also has untapped potential that could launch him up the rotation, too, if he has success returning to the starting rotation.

Bailey Ober was arguably the Twins 3rd best starter last season. He should be a really good fit in that role next summer, but again, he’s young. And then, there’s Louie Varland, who we aren’t sure is better suited for a starter or bullpen role, so this is a very important season for him too.

Twins still looking to add a starter

Hopefully, Fangraphs’ projections won’t change the Minnesota Twins plans to upgrade their starting rotation, now that Gray is gone. President of baseball ops, Derek Falvey, has made it clear the team hopes trade as many as four veteran position players to return a middle-top end starter, along with some payroll savings.

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Up until now, they’ve been unable to find a willing partner and refuse to spend one cent in free agency. Thus, things are quiet. But this wouldn’t be the first and won’t be the last time the Twins make their roster moves later in an offseason… so we’ll just keep waiting.

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