We all know who are starting 5 is going to be in 2009. Now what will happen if one or more goes down to injury or terrible regression? Who is ready to come in and replace them if it is needed? This post will explain what some of the options are for 2009 and what order I could see it in.
The first player I could see would be Brian Duensing. Duensing has a 3.47 ERA, 6.52 K/9, and 2.21 BB/9 in 516.1 innings pitched in his minor league career. In 2008, which was basically his 2nd year at AAA, he had a 4.28 ERA, 5 K/9, and 2.21 BB/9 in 24 games started. He didn’t perform as well as he has track record has shown in his previous years. Given his overall career numbers in the minors though, I still feel he might be the best bet to begin. He will also be 26 next year and the Twins have to give him a shot some time soon. If that spot opens in the rotation, I could see the Twins going to him first, baring if he starts out well.
The next person I would like to see would be Kevin Mulvey. Mulvey has a 3.36 ERA, 6.87 K/9, and 2.69 BB/9 in 321 innings pitched for his minor league career so far. In his first full year at AAA, he had a 3.77 ERA, 7.36 K9, and 2.92 BB/9 in 27 games started which is fairly in line with his career minor league numbers. He does need to get his walks down since he averaged nearly 3 free passes per 9 innings in 2008. I believe Mulvey is better than Duensing overall, but Mulvey does need some more seasoning. He also can afford it too since he is two years younger than Duensing.
The next player I could see would be Philip Humber. Humber has a 4.25 ERA, 7.86 K/9, and 2.81 BB/9 in 426 innings pitched during his minor league career. In his second full year at AAA, Humber actually regressed from what he put up during his first time through in 2007. His (ERA-K/9-BB/9) in AAA during 2007 was (4.27-7.77-2.85) and in 2008 was (4.56 -7-3.23). Regressing when he’s this close to the majors is not a good thing, especially at the age of 26. Humber did get the call for the majors in September because of his hot streak at the second half the season, but he only pitched 11.2 innings which isn’t a very good sample size to analyze. But that also does mean he has some major league experience, which is important to have too. Humber needs to work on lowering his ERA and walks and be more consistent. In the end, Humber may wind up being a long relief guy. Out of the four pitchers I’m talking about in this article, I believe Humber is the worst out of them all.
The last player we could probably see in 2009 to start a game would be Anthony Swarzak, and that’s because he needs some more seasoning to make him a better pitcher overall. Out of the four pitchers though, Swarzak has the highest upside out of them all. He has a 3.60 ERA, 7.98 K/9, and 2.86 BB/9 in 592.2 innings pitch for his minor league career so far. His 2008 season was very interesting, which most of you know about. In New Britain he had a 5.67 ERA, 6.73 K/9, and a 3.28 BB/9 in 20 games started. For some reason the Twins promoted him, and it ended up being an incredibly smart decision. Swarzak finished 2008 with a 1.80 ERA, 5.2 K/9, and 2.8 BB/9 in 7 games started at Rochester. What’s interesting is he had a worse K/9 and only a slightly better BB/9 in AAA compared to AA. Swarzak needs to work on his consistency and getting his walk ratio down. What could change everything though is if he starts out extremely hot and a pitcher is needed, he may actually be the one to come up. But if he only has a consistent year, then he could most likely be the last. What’s great is he’ll only be 23 next year.
This isn’t meant to be a perfect prediction, but more of an outline of what the options are in 2009. If one of these four comes in extremely hot at the beginning of 2009, that will probably trump them over everyone else. Boof Bonser was left off this list because I don’t know if he’ll be with the Twins next year. I hope in 2009 we won’t need any starting pitching replacements, but if we do, there are some players behind them that could possible pitch fairly well. It’s very nice to have options and depth. Also who knows, we could also end up seeing Jeff Manship, Ryan Mullins, Yohan Pino, or Jay Rainville, who all were in New Britain in 2008 at one point.