Phil Hughes: Can the Starting Pitching Hold Up?
Minnesota struggled with starting pitching all season long, and their issues were amplified with the 80-game suspension of high-priced free agent signing Ervin Santana at the beginning of spring training. Phil Hughes was not able to follow-up on his breakout 2014 campaign and battled through an uneven 2015. Santana and Hughes will be counted on to provide solid, but likely unspectacular, innings at the top of the rotation.
The loss of Mike Pelfrey will hurt, as he logged the second most starts and innings on the team last year. Kyle Gibson should slot into the middle of the rotation as he looks to build on last year’s 11 wins. Behind Gibson is a quartet of pitchers fighting for the last two spots, none of whom are likely to strike fear into opposing hitters. Tyler Duffy impressed in a late season call-up and has a leg up on the competition with Tommy Milone and Ricky Nolasco battling it out for the last spot.
The aforementioned Jose Berrios figures to be an ace in the hole if, and likely when, any of the names above struggle. The starting rotation will be counted on to keep the team in games and help out what should be a much-improved offense.