Twins Name Pablo Lopez Opening Day Starter

AP Photo: Gerald Herbert

The Minnesota Twins have the deepest starting pitching rotation they’ve rostered in recent memory but they did not enter Spring Training with bona fide “ace”. Joe Ryan took the mound on Opening Day in 2022 but Sonny Gray proved to be the best and most consistent starter as the season went on.

The last time Kenta Maeda was on the mound, he finished runner-up for the AL Cy Young award. The options continue from there with Tyler Mahle, who might have the best stuff of anyone on the staff.

Pablo Lopez named Twins’ Opening Day starter

But on Friday, Rocco Baldelli named the Twins official Opening Day starter and none of those names came out of his mouth. Instead, he announced the newly acquired former Marlin, Pablo Lopez, as their official #1, when they start their 2023 season on March 30 in Kansas City.

The Twins traded away fan favorite, Luis Arraez, to land the 26-year-old Lopez, who finished his career in Miami with a 3.94 ERA, 1.186 WHIP, 3.77 FIP and 8.6 SO/9 in 510 IP over 5 seasons.

If you’ve read The Athletic or ESPN in the last 12 hours, you likely agree with this decision. Pablo was the only Minnesota pitcher listed by the former as a possible ace and by the latter as a top-100 player in the MLB. Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton were the only other two Twins listed on ESPN’s top-100.

According to Dan Hayes (The Athletic), Sonny Gray will start game 2, which lines him up to take the mound at Target Field for the Twins’ home opener on April 6 vs the Houston Astros. Joe Ryan will start game 3. Slotting Lopez in as the #1 also lines him up to pitch Minnesota’s second series finale of the season, vs his former team, the Miami Marlins.

Jose Miranda moving back to 3rd base

Another announcement of note from Friday came with good news surrounding the injury status of Jose Miranda, who has spent all of his playing time so far this spring as a DH or 1st baseman, due to a shoulder injury that has limited his throwing early on. Miranda will play at 3rd base, for the first time, on Saturday. In all likelihood, that’s the position he will take on Opening Day, as well.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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