Tommy Milone was the favorite to be named the Minnesota Twins fifth starter when pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training and he has done everything right to earn the spot, not allowing an earned run through five innings on the mound.
The funny thing is, Mike Pelfrey has thrown his hat into the ring and turned many heads as he has been equally impressive so far this spring, also posting a perfect ERA over five innings.
Pelfrey was not a popular choice entering camp. The former top-ten pick is 5-16 with a 5.56 ERA in two seasons with the Twins and only lasted five starts in 2014 before being shut down for the year with a groin and elbow injury. Now he’s back and looking nothing like the man Twins fans have witnessed in recent years.
This is actually a good problem to have if you’re making these decisions for Minnesota. The past few seasons, the team has consistently rolled out one of the worst starting rotations in Major League Baseball and that’s something that first year manager Paul Molitor would like to see change. In pervious years, the team had tough decisions to make regarding the rotation because nobody was playing well, now the tides have turned on the team.
Another good sign is how well the rest of the starting staff has performed. Free agent signee Ervin Santana has joined Pelfrey and Milone in terms of not allowing an earned run this spring and Kyle Gibson has an ERA of 2.00 through three starts and nine innings of his own. Phil Hughes, who is scheduled to start on Opening Day for the Twins, struggled out of the gate but had his best outing of the spring so far yesterday against Baltimore, allowing just one hit over four innings and even Ricky Nolasco has looked far better than he did last season.
Pelfrey is scheduled to start this afternoon against the Orioles in what can be a big turning point in the team’s race to be the fifth starter. The runs will come at some point, as a pitcher cannot go an entire season without allowing a run. Keep an eye on Pelfrey as starting pitchers begin going deeper into games as Spring Training races towards its end.