On the heels of the Twins firing pitching coach Neil Allen, his successor is going to be under some scrutiny as he will be tasked with figuring out how to improve one of the worst pitching staffs in the majors. Now, some of that is obvious - get better pitchers - but some of that improvement will also have to come from within. There’s not much more that Ervin Santana can possible do. Jose Berrios also turned in a solid season, though we’d all agree that we should expect even more from him. There also were a few relievers (Brandon Kintzler, Trevor Hildenberger, Taylor Rogers) that pitched well, but ultimately an organization will need more than five good pitchers if they want to be competitive in the playoffs.
Fortunately, some of those improvements will come from a slew of pitchers that should be fully recovered from injuries in 2017. Here’s how much I think each of them will contribute to the team next season.
The biggest disappointment injury-wise this season, we were all expecting May to either grab a rotation spot or at the very least continue his ascent into a reliable late inning reliever. Instead, Tommy John surgery derailed those plans and now we’ll do this charade again for 2018. Ultimately, I think it might be too much to ask him to step into the rotation so soon, but easing him into a relief role seems perfectly reasonable and if he’s pitching well, he’ll either earn his way back into the rotation or will team up with Hildenberger and Rogers in the back end of the bullpen.
2018 Expectations: B- (should contribute in relief)
Another disappointment early in the season as Chargois started the year in the minor leagues but was expected to receive one of the first call-ups. Instead, Chargois lasted two games before hitting the disabled list with an “elbow impingement” and he never recovered to pitch again. The injury eventually was called a stress reaction and Chargois never had surgery to fix it, so who knows what’s actually going on with his elbow.
2018 Expectations: C (the unknown severity downgrades him a bit, but if he’s fine, he’s in the same boat as May)
That contract extension just looks worse and worse as the days go by. He had a second surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome and theoretically should be ready by spring training. However, he wasn’t pitching well before his first surgery in 2016 and didn’t pitch well before hitting the shelf again. His average fastball velocity dropped below 90 MPH and while the Twins will look to fill some holes in their rotation this offseason, Hughes should not be considered under any circumstances. I can’t see him doing anything more than being a long reliever.
2018 Expectations: D- (he’ll likely be back due to his contract, but I can’t see much of anything positive happening here)
A special case as he’ll likely have his team option declined, he might not even see a pitching mound as a Twin again. His fastball velocity averaged nearly 95 MPH at his peak but it was down to 90 in his eight games this season. Perkins will probably receive nothing more than a minor league contract this offseason from anyone and he’ll need to put in a ton of work to make himself viable in the majors this year. However, I think he might chose to just hang up his spikes instead.
2018 Expectations: F (if he doesn’t retire, he’ll get a minor league offer or two, but will probably get released before the season starts)