Twins Daily: Starting pitching Plan B: Snatching lottery tickets in bulk

Do these names do anything for you?
Publish date:
Rocco Baldelli

With all of the potential “impact” starters off the board with Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu now signed, Minnesota needs to get creative to fill the rotation. Trading for a starter is a definite possibility, but far from a certainty. Might the Twins be best served by snapping up a lottery ticket or three?

While the crop of free-agent pitchers has been pretty well picked through, Minnesota might come closest to obtaining impact pitching by taking on a trifecta of often-injured but high-upside starters. Specifically, Taijuan Walker, Alex Wood, and Rich Hill.

This might sound a bit crazy, but hear me out. Yes, the Twins already have all but two of their 40-man spots filled in and they are likely to add a corner infielder as well. Yes, Walker, Wood, and Hill combined to pitch all of 95 1/3 innings in 2019. But solving the 40-man issue could be as easy as saying goodbye to Ryne Harper and Matt Wisler. And although there is high risk with the aforementioned trio, there is also plenty of upside.

Let’s start with Walker. He is a former top 100 prospect with the Seattle Mariners and was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks where he pitched very well in 2017 (157.1 IP, 3.49 ERA, 4.04 FIP). Unfortunately, he has pitched just 14 innings since then while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The good news is that he is just 27-years-old, has pretty good stuff and velocity, and it would be intriguing to see what he could become under Wes Johnson tutelage. He should come fairly cheap on a one or two-year deal.

Like Walker, Alex Wood has struggled with injuries, but is still fairly young (he will turn 29 in January) and has been good in the past. He’s had four seasons of over 150 IP with ERA’s of 2.78, 3.84, 2.72, and 3.69. After pitching well for the Dodgers in 2018, 2019 was an injury-filled affair the Cincinnati Reds (35 2/3 IP, 5.80 ERA). He’s not far removed from success and if healthy would be a solid addition to the rotation.

Unlike Walker and Wood, Rich Hill is not young. Like yours truly, he will turn 40 before the season starts. But when he’s been on the field, he’s thrown really well. In 2019 he pitched to a 2.45 ERA with just over 11 K/9 in just 58.2 innings. Prior to that, he threw for over 130 innings in both 2017 and 2018 with good numbers, but that would be a lot to expect at this point. However, he would make sense as an opener or in a role that wouldn’t require him to pitch deep into games. Plus, his curve ball is a thing of beauty.

The beauty of this plan is in the depth and flexibility it would bring to Minnesota’s rotation. Assuming all three make it through spring training in good health, the rotation would be filled until Michael Pineda’s return. If one or more of the trio is injured or ineffective before Pineda’s return, the Twins can turn to any of Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smetzler, or even Brusdar Graterol (who the Twins could piggy back with Hill to limit both pitcher’s innings). Of course, if all three all pitching well when Pineda returns, we can thank the heavens and potentially move Hill to the bullpen where he would seem a good fit.

Obviously, the odds of all three pitchers (or the rest of the rotation for that matter) making it through the whole season injury free are very low. But again, Minnesota has plenty of young pitchers who would slot in nicely, and would have the luxury of calling up the hot hand. In addition to last year’s rookies, prospects such as Jhoan Duran, Jordan Balazovic, or even Cole Sands could emerge later in the season.

The rotation would be pretty stuffed for 2020 but none of the three targeted pitchers would likely command more than a year or two at most, so any young arms that emerge would likely have a slot to land in in 2021 if not sooner.

Obviously, this isn’t the type of plan that Minnesota set out with, nor is it a plan that the fan base would be particularly thrilled with, but it might be crazy enough to work. While none of the three currently fit the “impact” mold, they at least have some potential to do so. And the Twins would still have the potential to land the coveted “impact pitcher” prior to the trade deadline.

— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

This story first appeared at Twins Daily and was re-shared through a collaboration with Bring Me The News

Next Up

Jaden McDaniels

Wolves lose to Magic on Cole Anthony's buzzer-beater

The Wolves blew a 20-point lead as the Magic defeated the Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

J.A. Happ

Twins sign veteran J.A. Happ to add to the rotation

The left-hander will get a one-year, $8 million deal from the Twins.

storm the capitol rally st. paul minnesota state capitol

BCA finds 'no criminal wrongdoing' among those at 'Storm the Capitol' rally

Inflammatory comments were made by speakers, but no charges will be brought.

Screen Shot 2021-01-18 at 12.27.04 PM

Man's vehicles crushed by hit-and-run driver weren't fully insured

The goal is to raise $25,000 to help the south Minneapolis resident.

Joe Biden

Key points from Joe Biden's first speech as POTUS

The 46th president called for unity at a time America is facing huge challenges.

coronavirus, covid-19

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, January 20

The 111 ICU patients is the fewest in Minnesota since there were 109 COVID patients in intensive care on Oct. 1.


Here's what Amy Klobuchar said at Joe Biden's inauguration

The Minnesota senator was one of the leader organizers of the inauguration.

covid-19, vaccine

All of this week's COVID vaccine pilot program appointments are filled

Nearly 6,000 Minnesotans who are 65 and older registered for appointments between noon Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

Lane kueng thao chauvin

Osterholm affidavit ahead of George Floyd trial warns of COVID worsening in March

Prosecutors want to delay the Chauvin trial due to a public health threat.


Minnesota's Game 3 starting pitching options in the playoffs

Michael Pineda's suspension puts the Twins in a tough spot.

Jose Berrios

Twins 2020 position analysis: Starting pitcher

Nick Nelson of Twins Daily dives into Minnesota's starting pitchers.

Stephen Strasburg

Spending the Twins' starting rotation tab

How would Zack Wheeler or Stephen Strasburg look in a Twins uniform?

Homer Bailey

Twins beef up starting pitching with Homer Bailey, Rich Hill

Hill is expected to miss the first two months of the season.


Twins pitching coach gave local media a homework assignment

Wes Johnson asked, Twins Daily's Parker Hageman answered.

Devin Smeltzer

Trusting the Twins' internal starting pitching options

Twins Daily breaks down the options the Twins already have available.

Randy Dobnak

Will Randy Dobnak or Lewis Thorpe give the Twins more in 2020?

Twins Daily hints at Dobnak being on track to have a better 2020.