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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Starting Rotation

With so many questions in this year's rotation only one thing is for sure: 2 time Cy Young Winner and former Twins ace, Johan Santana, is gone.

In the 2008 rotation you have a 33-year old veteran who has pitched in two World Series, a 24-year old All-Star recovering from Tommy John surgery, two so called "veterans" who each have 48 career starts, and an empty spot.
As of today, the rotation looks like this: Livan Hernandez, Francisco Liriano (as long as he is fully recovered by season opener), Scott Baker, Boof Bonser, and an empty spot. Each pitcher brings something to the mound along with some question marks.

Hernandez was signed to provide some veteran leadership and to pitch 200 innings; however, the veteran has lost his velocity and posted a 4.93 ERA in 2007. Liriano is the star of the rotation but hasn't pitched in an MLB game since August 2006. Liriano's health is the key to a successful 2008 season for the Twins. Baker nearly pitched a no-hitter last season and emerged as legitimate starter; however, Baker seemed inconsistent at times and has already suffered injury trouble early this spring which could keep him out at the start of the season. Bonser brought some strong performances early last season and then seemed to fade down the the stretch as his weight seemed to increase. He reported to spring training fit and slim and is ready to pitch an entire season at a high level. At this point the final spot in the rotation seems to be a battle between Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, and Nick Blackburn. Slowey has the inside track based on his experienced last year at the MLB level. Perkins in coming back from missing nearly an entire season and Blackburn has been the most impressive so far this spring. So I truly have no idea who will take the ball on the 5th day, but with Baker likely to start the year on the DL and the readiness of Liriano to still be in question who knows, maybe all three will get a chance to play.

With a seemingly improve offense for 2008, the starting rotation is definitely the question mark this year for the Twins. The growth and development of this young rotation will determine the success (or failure) of the '08 year. Most importantly, no matter the record at the end of the season if these young arms improve and show progress at the end of the season it'll be a good sign for the Twins future.

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