Remember when the Twins were routinely promoting great young pitching prospects that would exceed expectations and lead them to the playoffs? Me neither, since it has been several seasons since I was excited about a Minnesota pitcher, despite their new pitcher friendly home park.
Starting Pitching Rotation Analysis
Potential Rotation Alternatives
ADP designated by * indicates no reported ADP as of date of publication. Projections are based on a compilation of several sources (ZiPS, Oliver, Steamer, RotoChamp), given equal weight.
The Twins signed Ricky Nolasco as a free agent, hoping his improved ERA in 2013 (3.70) will translate in the American League with Target Field as his home base. He will chew up the innings for Minnesota, and provide an average strikeout rate with good control (2.08 BB/9 and 3.59 K/BB with the Marlins and Dodgers last season). He will generate decent groundball production and limit the ball leaving the park. Having been tagged as the Opening Day starter, this could be the year Nolasco realized his potential, but I am not going to select him before the end of my drafts.
Phil Hughes is another free agent pickup that the Twins are hoping will benefit from a change of scenery. As a fly ball pitcher, he was out of his element in Yankee Stadium, but the more pitcher friendly confines in the Twin Cities may limit the damage the long ball does to his stats. He is worth a flier at the back end of your drafts, and definitely someone you should keep in mind in an AL-only league.
Kevin Correia is another pitcher that is expected to provide innings for the Twins, but with a below average strikeout rate and a fastball that clocks out at 90 MPH, even with a league average groundball rate he is not much to write home about. An ability to limit walks is his best attribute, aside from stamina, and that does not allow me to recommend him as a draft option.
Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Mike Pelfrey was underwhelming in 2013, with a 5.19 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in just over 150 innings pitched. His strikeout rate is below league average, and his control is not that spectacular either. He won't be as putrid as he was in 2013, but do not expect him to suddenly become a fantasy relevant starting pitcher in 2014.
Samuel Deduno could be the fifth starter or he could be relegated to a spot starter/swingman role. He is yet another Minnesota pitcher that has a less than stellar strikeout rate, and he walks way too many batters, although he did cut his BB/9 rate down to 3.42 in 2013, from 6.04 in 2012. When walking nearly three and a half batters per nine innings is positive for your production, you know you've got some control problems. It should be noted that his groundball rate is superb, coming in at nearly 60% of batted balls, but his mediocre fastball also limits his potential.
Scott Diamond was a surprise breakout in 2012, but things fell apart in 2013, where his extremely low strikeout rate, and not exactly pinpoint control, together with a sub-90 MPH fastball all caught up to him. Note that he has recorded 11 strikeouts this spring in 9.2 innings, so there may be hope for the youngster, but he may also be taking a trip to Triple-A to start the season.
If you are desperate for pitching, then by all means peruse the Twins rotation for help. Just don't set your sights too high, as you will more than likely suffer disappointment on and off starting any of these guys on the road. At home, Nolasco and Hughes have some potential value as streaming options.
If you disagree with my assessments, or just want to discuss starting pitching, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I enjoy comments and am more than willing to engage in discussion about fantasy baseball, so feel free to write.