Minnesota Twins 2013 Statistical Preview: Pitching

Vance Worley is your likely Opening Day starter. Deep breaths, Minnesota fans. Deep breaths.

Let’s play a little “Good News, Bad News” for the 2013 Minnesota Twins pitching staff. Bad news? Pitching is still a part of the game of baseball. Good news? The Twins have completely revamped their staff from the start of last year.

Francisco Liriano and his 5.0 BB/9 are with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Scott Baker, God bless his soul, is on the disabled list with the Chicago Cubs. Carl Pavano had a “near-fatal” incident with a shovel this winter and is unemployed. I assume Jason Marquis is off auditioning for Ke$ha music videos somewhere. And Nick Blackburn is likely going to start the year in AA New Britain. Good job, good effort, Terry Ryan.

More bad news, though, as this year’s rotation looks to be much of the same. Feel free to release a collective “Uff da,” Minnesota, as we take a look at this year’s starting staff.

Vance Worley

The Twins acquired “Vanimal” in the trade that sent Ben Revere to the Phillies. The other pitcher the Twins got in return, Trevor May, will start the year at AA New Britain, but appears to have a bright future ahead.

Vance Worley’s career thus far has been a tale of two seasons. Minnesota is hoping for the 2011 version, as Worley will most likely get the opening day start.

In his rookie year, Worley compiled a 3.01 ERA in 21 starts with a 1.230 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, and 3.1 BB/9. All of those numbers got worse in his sophomore campaign, rising to a 4.20 ERA with a 1.511 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, and 3.2 BB/9. Those numbers aren’t terrible, but they aren’t worthy of a top-of-the-rotation starter. Worley is only 25, though, so his prime is yet to come.

Scott Diamond

Scott Diamond, who entered the rotation in early May, was far and away the best starter for the Twins in 2012. The 26-year-old was the only hurler to throw more than 110 innings, finishing the year with 173 IP, a 3.54 ERA, and a league-best 1.6 BB/9.

The league started to figure Diamond out by the end of the year. In his first 15 starts, he had a 2.88 ERA and a groundball/flyball ratio of 1.39. Those numbers shifted to 4.50 and 1.00 in his final 12 starts. Again, not terrible, but not awe-inspiring.

The best part about Diamond, though, is that he can get you late into a game. He was able to go at least seven innings in 13 of his 27 starts. The rest of the Twins staff did that a grand total of... drum roll… 16 times. IN 135 FREAKING GAMES. Yowza. Diamond is still recovering from minor off-season elbow surgery, but he is expected to join the rotation no later than mid-April.

Kevin Correia

Most of the Twins’ transactions this offseason made sense. This one did not. Ryan & Co. gave the 32-year-old $10 million for a two-year deal. Kevin Correia, a lifetime National Leaguer, has a composite WAR of -2.2 over the last two years. The adjustment to the AL probably won’t be kind to a mediocre fly-ball pitcher who had a K/9 of 4.68 last year. Annnnnnd he’ll be their No. 3 starter.

Mike Pelfrey

Mike Pelfrey is coming off of Tommy John surgery, so the Twins were able to get him on the cheap (1 year, $4 million) as a low-risk investment. If Pelfrey is able to return to his 2010 form, the Twins will be getting a quality starter who can eat innings (averaged 196 IP from 2008-2011). Pelfrey’s still only 29 years old, so there is a possibility he could still have good years ahead.

Everybody Else

The competition for the fifth spot in the rotation is still… well… it’s going, at least. That doesn’t mean it’s going well. One of the Twins’ top prospects, Kyle Gibson, was sent down to AAA Rochester last week, meaning this spot is not his yet.

Right now, there appear to be three candidates for that fifth spot: Sam Deduno, Liam Hendriks, and Cole De Vries.

If you watched the World Baseball Classic Championship, you know Deduno has “stuff.” Unfortunately, that “stuff” leads to a BB/9 of 6.0. Yeesh. He’ll need to reduce that to the 3-4 BB/9 range to fit in with pitching coach Rick Anderson’s philosophy.

Aussie-native Hendriks has an ERA of 5.71 in his first 20 big-league starts, 16 of which came last year. Hendriks has far better control than Deduno (2.7 BB/9), but his 1.547 WHIP last year led to big inning after big inning. His youth (24-years-old) may be the biggest factor in his corner as progress should be expected.

De Vries is intriguing because he had a solid 2012 when given an opportunity. In 17 appearances (16 starts), the 28-year-old compiled a 4.11 ERA with a 1.209 WHIP and a 1.8 BB/9.

So, rundown of the Twins pitching staff: Worley, Diamond, pray for rain, PRAY for rain, and OH, DEAR GOD, PRECIPITATE IN SOME WAY. On the bright side, for a team that finished 28th in staff-ERA in 2012, things can’t get much worse.