It’s official: Twins rotation is set

Kevin Slowey might be in the Minnesota Twins bullpen, or he might be on another team. But one thing is for sure: He won’t open the season in their rotation.

That bit of news came via a Twitter “tweet” from Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Nick Blackburn will be the No. 4 starter, while Scott Baker will be the fifth starter. Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano and Brian Duensing will be atop the rotation.

This is a pretty predictable piece of news. The team has invested in contract extensions with Baker and Blackburn recently, while Slowey has two more arbitration seasons ahead of him after this one.

What is unknown right now is the future of Slowey, who posted obscene pitching stats in the minor leagues, but he has struggled with injuries and, occasionally, missing bats in the big leagues. I think Slowey has been good enough to have some value if the Twins want to trade him, probably for another solid reliever to put in a rather shaky bullpen.

Some great points are made in this piece written by Joe Pawlikowski of FanGraphs, pointing out that Slowey was a good fit for Target Field last year. And if the Twins would ever upgrade their outfield defense, fly ball pitchers in big parks like Slowey would become way more valuable.

I like Slowey over Blackburn too, but I realize baseball is a business, and a team isn’t going to put a guy like Blackburn in the bullpen when there is “X” amount of dollars owed to him. It just doesn’t work that way.

The Twins will continue to explore the trade market, but I think they should retain Slowey, who is only 26 years old and never has trouble throwing strikes. With Kyle Gibson barking on the big league door from the minors, the Twins have two starters ready to go if there are injuries or struggles from the current starting five. And considering the state of the bullpen, it behooves the Twins to make sure they are getting quality starts at the beginning of games.