1. RHP Ervin Santana
Expect Ervin Santana to once again start the 2018 season opener.
Even so, the 34-year-old shouldn’t be considered a legitimate ace in an elite rotation, so consider this a short-term thing. While Santana put together an All-Star season in 2017, he’s probably a second or third starter in such a rotation. Yet, this shouldn’t take away from the fact he arguably turned in the best season of his career. Specifically, he went 16-8 with a 3.28 ERA in 33 starts.
Furthermore, he has been the Twins’ most consistent starting pitcher since signing as a free agent in 2015. In fact, he’s 30-24 with a 3.47 ERA over that time. As a result, he’s earned the role as the no. 1 starter for the time being.
Nevertheless, the Twins have to find someone who possesses the kind of nasty stuff that puts fear into hitters. This isn’t to say Santana has poor stuff, but it is to say he doesn’t possess the kind of stuff that hitters fear to step into the box against. In other words, he’s no Clayton Kershaw or Chris Sale on the mound.
Realistically, Jose Berríos could eventually be that guy. He definitely possesses ace-type stuff. In the end, it just comes down to him consistently dominating teams with that stuff. At this point, he hasn’t consistently been able to do that, although he took a step in the right direction in 2017.
While I have the Twins acquiring a couple of quality starters included in this rotation prediction, they don’t instantly take over the ace role from Santana in my opinion. That being said, both arms boast a higher ceiling than Santana. Not to mention, one boasts far better stuff. It’s just a matter of consistency and earning the role from Santana.