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.

5 Responses

  1. I don’t think the money factor is a huge deal in this situation with Slowey and Blackburn. The main difference between them is that when Blackburn is on he can eat innings. Slowey has shown he can but not nearly like Blackburn can. The financials to factor into it a little but I feel that is one of the big reasons. With a bullpen that will have less experience this year, it is very important to have starters who can get into the 7th and possibly the 8th inning. That is something Slowey has not done a lot of over the past couple of years.

  2. Luke

    How do think slowey is better than blackburn? that is a rube take. This wasnt a business choice….blackie pitched better, and has a better history of pitching well in the majors. to say that “the Twins have two starters ready to go if there are injuries or struggles from the current starting five” with slowey and gibson is garbage, how much expirience does gibson have? none. how are you a reporter? you know nothing about the sport, and you are “reporting” something that has been known for weeks.

  3. Twins Focus Blog: I can’t argue that Slowey’s inability to stay healthy and be that innings-eater has hurt him. There’s no question about that. But in their career’s, Blackburn’s average outing lasts only a fraction longer than Slowey’s (it’s like 5.71 to 5.5 IP/game, with each having a few relief outings in there). Basically, an extra out per start or so. But the Twins can be much more confident that Blackburn can make 30 starts in a year. Slowey … not so much.

    Luke: I, along with other outlets like the Pi-Press and Star Tribune, are reporting this because it was announced today. Smart money was on this from the beginning, but the Twins until today had never said Slowey wasn’t in the running for that job.

    As for the “blackie pitched better” comment, in what way? In terms of last season, Slowey’s ERA was nearly a full run lower than Blackburn’s (4.45 to 5.42). In terms of spring training, they both have been very effective. This spring, Slowey is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA, allowing 3 ERs on 7 hits in 12 innings. Blackburn is 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA, allowing 5 ERs on 18 hits in 16 innings (he’s had one more apperance than Slowey so far).

    1. Orlando Leonard

      Does it really matter who’s named the fourth or fifth starter in the Twins rotation? Whenever Blackburn or Baker flames out, Slowey is going to get a shot. And if Slowey was named to a spot it would only be a matter of time before he gets injured and Blackburn is inserted.

      I call it the cycle of mediocrity.

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