The Twins have a very good chance of making the Wild Card game. Winning the Wild Card game might be a different story. Even if you do win, you’ll be thrown straight into a five-game Division Series. So in the Wild Card game, do you start your best pitcher in hopes of advancing, or save your best starter for the Division Series?
Ervin Santana was the Twins opening day starter, and is considered the ace of the Twins staff. His 3.36 ERA is the best on the club, as is his 16 wins and .667 winning percentage. So why wouldn’t you start your best pitcher in a play-in game? Well, if the Twins actually do win, they need starters for the division round. The Wildcard Game is October 3rd. That lines up your wild-card starter as your ALDS game three starter. If you hold back Santana until (potentially) game one of the ALDS, he would also be available for game five, if that was necessary. If you do hold off starting Santana for the Wild Card, you have two other realistic options available.
Jose Berrios is likely to be the Twins ace of the future. By most statistical measurements, Berrios is the Twins second best pitcher. The 23-year old Puerto Rican has never pitched in the MLB Playoffs, but has been a factor on multiple playoff runs in the minor leagues. On the negative side of the balance sheet, he pitched poorly in his last outing against the Yankees, giving up three runs on five hits, in only 3.1 innings.
The other option for the Twins would never have sounded imaginable in July—Kyle Gibson. Gibson has been a very good pitcher for the Twins lately. Though he’s had some great run support, which always helps, he had a 3.90 ERA in August in August his ERA was 3.90, and in September it has been 2.81, which is the best on the team.
Santana’s regular day to pitch will be October 3rd for the Wild Card game. If the Twins want someone else to pitch, they will need to rearrange their rotation a bit. With a magic number of three, The series with the Indians may play a factor — if the Twins are playing for nothing in the last three games with the Tigers, they can afford to start a lesser pitcher. If they are still fighting for a playoff spot, they may need to use their best pitching to get there.
Who should start the Wild Card game for the Twins?
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