The return of Ervin Santana is right around the corner and it couldn’t be coming at a better time for the Minnesota Twins, who are desperately trying to keep pace in the American League playoff race after hitting some rough patches in June.
Santana made his third and final minor league start last night before rejoining the Twins, leading the Rochester Red Wings (AAA) to victory once again. His best rehab outing was saved for last and proves how big of an impact Santana will be able to make at the Major League level. Santana went eight innings, allowing no runs and just five hits in the Red Wings 1-0 win against the Pawtucket Red Sox. He also struck out five and surrendered no walks.
He was a perfect 3-0 in his rehab starts with a 1.74 ERA, the last two wins both came against Pawtucket. Santana went deeper into each game and threw 99 pitches tonight, showing that he will be capable of hitting the 100-pitch mark when he makes his Twins debut.
The Twins signed Santana to a four-year, $54 million contract this offseason in hopes of boosting one of the league’s worst starting rotations. His 80-game suspension for a failed drug test was announced just three days before the start of the 2015 season and it seemed like Minnesota, who had very little expectations of competing to begin with, was already finished before Opening Day had even occurred.
His return should have Twins fans very excited. Despite expectations being low and getting off to a very forgettable 1-6 start, Minnesota has stuck around this long and adding a pitcher as talented as Santana to the mix can only help boost their chances of making the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Seeing him dominate Triple-A is just a bonus. It’s clear that Santana hasn’t lost a step after arguably being the Twins best pitcher in spring training, where he lead the team with three wins and posted a 1.89 ERA in five starts.
The Twins have struggled a bit in June after finishing May with the best record in the American League, and Santana won’t fix everything, but having their high priced free agent on the hill will provide a big boost for a team that truly needs one.