Starting pitching options for the Minnesota Twins

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 30: Jose Berrios /
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BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 25: Jeremy Hellickson
BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 25: Jeremy Hellickson /

Mid-Tier Options

CC Sabathia

There was a time Sabathia seemed to be heading towards retirement. From 2013 to 2015, Sabathia had a couple high 4.00 ERAs and a career-high 5.28 ERA in 2014. Contrary to popular opinion, the 37-year old bounced back in 2016 with a 3.91 ERA in 30 starts and improved on that in 2017 with a 14-5 record and 3.69 ERA in 27 starts. He’s proved he still has it even in the latter stages of his career. Given his age, he will come more reasonable on the market, although expect him to return to New York.

Jeremy Hellickson

Hellickson had a great 2016 with the Philadelphia Phillies posting a 3.71 ERA and 12-10 record. This took place after a couple of trying seasons for the right-hander. Yet, in 2017, Hellickson took a step back going 8-11 with a 5.43 ERA in time with the Phillies and Baltimore Orioles. In fact, he got worse as the season went on producing a 6.97 ERA in 10 starts with the Orioles. Even so, his career numbers stand at 69-69 with a 4.12 ERA and there’s no reason to think he can’t rebound. The difficult 2017 season may also drop his price tag, so he could come at good value. That is, for a starting pitcher.

Jason Vargas

After missing a majority of 2015 and 2016 with significant injuries, Vargas put together a solid 2017 with the Kansas City Royals going 18-11 with a 4.16 ERA in 179.2 innings. Actually, he was an All Star for the Royals after a phenomenal first half of the season. Yet, he fell apart after the All Star break with a 6.38 ERA and 6-8 record. Much of that likely had to do with a lack of endurance after two lost seasons. Vargas should come reasonable at $12-13 million a year.

Jhoulys Chacin

The 29-year old right hander was 13-10 for a San Diego Padres team that finished 20 games below .500 in 2017. In the process, he had a 3.89 ERA in 180.1 innings pitched. For his career, Chacin has a sub-4.00 ERA at 3.93 as a member of five different clubs. He makes for a solid back-of-the-rotation arm, but he didn’t have much success with the Los Angeles Angels, the lone American League team he’s played for.

Andrew Cashner

Cashner is an interesting case as his 3.40 ERA was better than all the high-end options in 2017 as a member of the Texas Rangers. Yet, he wasn’t great at all in 2016 between stints with the San Diego Padres and Miami Marlins putting up a 5.25 ERA and 5-11 record. Even so, he’s a solid arm to have in the back of a rotation, who could turn out to be a steal if he performs like he did with the Rangers. Cashner’s market value increases following a great year though, so he may come at the highest rate of the mid-tier options.

John Lackey

The 38-year old keeps putting up innings in the twilight of his career. He went 12-12 with a 4.59 ERA in 170.2 innings in 2017, although his numbers were far better the previous three seasons. Still, Lackey is capable of filling a role in the backend of a rotation, bringing stability to a rotation for the short-term. Additionally, he’s a cheaper option than most given his age.

Jaime Garcia

Garcia spent 2017 with three teams, ending up with the New York Yankees. He’s a consistent back-of-the-rotation arm at this point of his career, never having an ERA above 4.67 as a starter. For his career, he has a 67-55 record along with a 3.69 ERA. He should demand around $10-12 million on the market.

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Best option for Twins?

Jeremy Hellickson and/or Jaime Garcia. Honestly, the Twins can’t go wrong with adding any of these pitchers as they should provide better results than most of the options on the roster. That being said, Hellickson and Garcia feel like the best options here. Hellickson is coming off a down year, which should decrease his value. He’s also just one year removed from a very good year with the Phillies, while being fairly durable in his career. As for Garcia, he’s been as consistent as they come and should provide instant stability in the four or five spot of the Twins’ rotation.