Jose Berrios will take the ball to the mound on March 28 to open the season against the reigning AL Central champion Cleveland Indians, and after that it's a rotation yet to be announced.
But there are four men who have separated themselves from the competition to be in the eventual five-man starting rotation under Twins manager Rocco Baldelli.
- Jose Berrios, RHP
- Jake Odorizzi, RHP
- Kyle Gibson, RHP
- Michael Pineda, RHP
- Martin Perez, LHP
According to Twins reporter Do-Hyoung Park, there's a strong chance the Twins open the season with four starters until the off days subside and a five-man rotation is needed a couple of weeks into the season. That means Perez, the only lefty in the projected rotation, is likely to start the season in the bullpen.
"If that's the plan that we have for the first two weeks, we have to do it, because we don't have any days where I can go, and I want to pitch now," Perez said this week. "I've got guys in front of me, and they've got to do their jobs as players, and I'll be there to do my job, too."
The order of the rotation beyond Berrios is up for debate, but Twins Daily's Nick Nelson believes Gibson is the No. 2 starter followed by Pineda and Odorizzi.
"When healthy, Pineda is a big bad man pumping mid-90s heat from a 6-foot-7 frame, piling up whiffs and strikeouts at rates that overshadow Berrios or Gibson," Nelson writes.
Odorizzi is coming off his worst MLB season so he can't be worse, right? Gibson is coming off his best MLB season so he'll keep that up, right? Great questions that everyone is anxiously awaiting answers to.
What's most intriguing about Perez is that his fastball, typically in the low 90s, has been clocked in the mid-to-upper 90s this spring. The Twins hope his 2019 resembles his rookie season with the Rangers in 2013 when he went 10-6 with a 3.62 ERA.
Then again, Perez posted a 6.22 ERA last season and even though he's throwing harder this spring, his ERA is still close to 5 (4.85).
Fortunately, if Twins pitchers aren't consistent, the lineup should be potent enough to keep things interesting all season long.