The potential starting rotation, as I’ve written about in the last week, remains the biggest question mark heading into the 2013 season. As many as 11 guys have a realistic shot at breaking camp in April as part of the rotation. The leading candidates seem to be Scott Diamond, Vance Worley, and Kevin Correia. From there you have Liam Hendriks, Brian Duensing, Anthony Swarzak, Kyle Gibson, Nick Blackburn, Mike Pelfrey, Samuel Deduno, and Cole De Vries. With yesterday’s news that the Twins appear to be going hard after Joe Saunders still, Deduno and De Vries may get shoved even farther down the list.
My question is: “Do these two guys deserve a shot with the current state of the rotation?” They did have the 2nd and 3rd best ERA’s of all the Twins starters in 2012.
Dedudo made his first career Major League start last season as a 28 year old on July 7th against Texas. He had pitched nearly all of his previous 8 seasons and the first half of his 9th in the minor leagues. He finished with very good numbers last season in 9 starts at AAA Rochester, going 1-2 with a 2.14 ERA, striking out 46 batters in only 42 innings. There’s where the trouble lies with Deduno, that although he didn’t give up runs, he pitched only 42 innings in 9 starts – not even 5 innings per start. Once he reached the majors, he did pitch at least 6 innings in 8 of his starts, pitching a total of 79 innings with the Twins. He failed to get through the 5th inning in 5 of those remaining 7 starts. He struggles badly with his control, and has his entire career. He walked 53 batters in those 79 innings with the Twins which prevents him from pitching deep into games. On the bright side, his ERA was a solid 4.44 in 2012, and he gave up only 7.9 H/9. I guess you could call him effectively wild.
De Vries (age 27) made his major league debut May 24th last season in Chicago, after 5 full seasons in the Twins farm system. He has a career minor league ERA of 4.03, and walked 2.6 batters per 9 in the minors, compared to Deduno’s 5.1. De Vries started 15 games for the Twins in 2012, going 5-5 with a solid 4.11 ERA. He walked only 18 batters in 87.2 innings, and seemed to hold his own in his time in Minnesota.
Neither of these two guys blow anyone away at the major league level. Deduno created more ground balls (58.3%) last season than De Vries (31.0%), but Deduno gave way too many free passes due to his control issues. Surpisingly, De Vries got more batters to swing at pitches out of the strike zone (29.2%) than Deduno (23.5%). Deduno needs to find a way to pitch more strikes, especially if he continues to induce ground balls at the rate he did in 2012.
With Pelfrey (Tommy John surgery) and Blackburn (wrist surgery) probably getting late starts this spring, the last two spots in the rotation are up for grabs. I expect Liam Hendriks to get a shot at one; but Kyle Gibson, who is also a year and change removed from Tommy John, could be relegated to the bullpen or AAA to start due to an innings limit. I sincerely hope that the Duensing/Swarzak as starters experiment is over at this point. That leaves the #5 starter job open for De Vries or Deduno (assuming Joe Saunders doesn’t make an appearance). Deduno is intriguing with his ability to be effectively wild, similar to Francisco Liriano, but De Vries’ track record in his time in the system would suggest that he may get a real shot to be part of this rotation this year, at least to start. Deduno will probably remain on the outside looking in, trying to improve his control in Rochester.
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