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What's the best starting rotation combination for the Twins?

Will Jose Berrios and Phil Hughes make the rotation out of camp and which minor leaguers are putting pressure on Paul Molitor?
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Twins pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Tuesday with the first workout a day later. Position players report next Saturday. The regular season starts April 3.

That means Paul Molitor and company have to figure out the best possible five guys for the starting rotation in the next 50 days.

MLB.com's projected Twins rotation:

  1. Ervin Santana
  2. Hector Santiago
  3. Kyle Gibson
  4. Jose Berrios
  5. Tyler Duffey
  6. Phil Hughes

With six guys listed, MLB.com's projection indicates a battle for the fifth spot between Duffey and Hughes.

Santana and Santiago, the lefty the Twins traded for last year, appear to be locks in the rotation. But there are plenty of questions about Gibson, Berrios, Duffey, Hughes and Trevor May, who intends to compete as a starter after spending last season in the bullpen.

Berrios had an 8.02 ERA in 14 starts as a rookie last season. He's the top pitching prospect in the organization so hopes remain high on the righty. Twins Daily thinks he's talented and durable enough to perhaps reach 200 innings.

Duffey posted a 6.43 ERA in 26 starts but failed to complete five innings 10 times.

Gibson was just way to hittable. Opponents hit .298 for the season, including a ridiculous .348 during a brutal August where he allowed 26 runs in just 34 innings.

Hughes is entering 2017 after a broken leg and shoulder surgery ended his 2016 season, not to mention the rib he had removed.

Santiago is probably a lock, but even he underwhelmed in 11 starts after being traded to the Twins.

Here's what I consider a best-case scenario out of camp:

  1. Ervin Santana - reaching close to 200 innings as the staff workhorse
  2. Hector Santiago - 180+ innings while regaining his 2015 All-Star form
  3. Joe Berrios - resembles the sub-3.00 ERA pitcher he was at Triple-A
  4. Kyle Gibson - reverts to his 2015 form where he posted a solid 3.84 ERA
  5. Trevor May - makes a comeback as a hard-throwing strikeout pitcher

The reality is that Hughes, not May, will likely break camp as one of the starting five. That's fine, but then the Twins need to decide whether May is a reliever at the big-league level or a starter waiting for his turn at Triple-A Rochester.

Duffey has been incredibly inconsistent, so we're not penciling him in anywhere.

If any of the starters struggle they'll likely be pressured by minor-league lefties Stephen Gonsalves and Adalberto Mejia. Gonsalves went 8-1 with a 1.82 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 74.1 innings at Double-A last year. Mejia is the 6-foot-3 lefty the Twins got from the Giants for Eduardo Nunez.

For The Win ranked the Twins' rotation 28th out of 30 MLB teams entering spring training. If it's not improved from last season, the Twins could be staring down the barrel of another 100-loss summer.

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