An area that wasn’t supposed to be in question this past season became a big one with injuries. With Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey and a healthy Francisco Liriano, the rotation looked to be a strength for the Twins as they took the field in April.
Baker got off to a slow start after an injury-filled spring, Slowey collected ten victories but missed the second half, Perkins missed several starts with arm problems, and Liriano was inconsistent before being shut down and eventually moved to the bullpen.
Players stepped up however as rookie Anthony Swarzak made a few good starts and rookie left-hander Brian Duensing stepped into the rotation and played a key role in the team’s September run. Meanwhile, grizzled veteran Carl Pavano provided leadership and quality starts time and time again after being acquired in a midseason trade.
As the team looks ahead to Target Field and the 2010 season, questions do remain with only three of five rotation spots currently seemingly guaranteed. Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn and a healthy Kevin Slowey seem to be locks for the rotation, but two slots remain unsettled.
The Twins have three likely options within the organization including Francisco Liriano, Glen Perkins, and Brian Duensing. They could fill both slots with two of the three pitchers, but a better option seems to be to fill one spot and go outside of the organization to fill the other.
If the Twins go with one of the three lefties to fill one of the bottom spots in the rotation, they’ll have one opening to fill via trade or free agency. Carl Pavano stepped up for the Twins and overall pitched nearly 200 innings with the Indians and Twins combined. Pavano may be a good option who can provide innings when healthy in addition to leadership.
Trades are always possible, but outside of Pavano the best options lie within the free agent market.
Jarrod Washburn is another lefty who the team has reportedly eyed for the past two seasons. The lefty put up good numbers, and has stated before that he’d love to play closer to his home state of Wisconsin.
The Twins have three spots currently decided, and if they so choose, the rotation could all be filled within the organization. A pitcher like Pavano, Washburn or another free agent might however be a wise investment to fill at least one slot.