The latest trade rumors being reported suggest that the Twins have been priced out of the starter trade market. I don’t think this is a bad thing, if teams are demanding Byron Buxton, or Royce Lewis plus Alex Kirilloff in return. While the Twins are poised for one of their more promising regular seasons in team history, you can’t trade away major pieces of the current roster, or the bulk of your future for one pitcher.
If the Twins do not add another starter though, they should be okay with their current rotation for the rest the season. Barring injury, they should be able to still win the division behind Jake Odorizzi, Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Martin Perez, and Michael Pineda. If one of these starters suffers an injury or stumbles, Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, and Kohl Stewart have all proven that they deserve an opportunity to see what they can do.
As of today, each of the Twins five starters has an ERA below 4.30, and a couple guys are drastically better. Even with regression taking a bit of a toll, Jake Odorizzi has a 3.84 ERA and has won 11 games. Jose Berrios has a 2.94 ERA. As a group, FIP suggests that the Twins pitchers are near where they should be—Odorizzi and Berrios have had a little luck, but no one’s numbers scream out either way. Of the three swing-men, Smeltzer has been especially impressive, essentially shutting down the Yankees over five innings in his most recent appearance. Still, all three rookies are under age 25, and could be an important part of the Twins future.
In a playoff scenario, the most likely rotation would feature Jose Berrios at the top. He’s earned it by virtue of his role as “future staff ace,” by virtue of his season numbers, and by his performance against the Yankees in the 2017 wild card game—a game which Ervin Santana started, but Berrios was clearly the best performing pitcher. Jake Odorizzi would settle into the second role, and Kyle Gibson would be the third. Given the days of rest in a playoff series, you likely will only need four pitchers, and between the other two options, I believe Pineda will be the fourth starter. He’s been very steady lately for the Twins, picking up around six innings and three runs in a majority of his starts. He’s also never really pitched out of a bullpen. Martin Perez has his left-handedness in his favor, if the Twins decide that mixing things up may help. He does, however have significant experience in a bullpen role, as recently as this season. That is more valuable, in my opinion, especially with the dearth of lefties available outside Taylor Rogers.
While a top-level starter would clearly help this team down the stretch, and in the playoffs, I do believe the starters that are available leave the Twins in a decent position for this season. Not trading for someone with team control just makes resigning Kyle Gibson or Jake Odorizzi this offseason a much more pressing priority, as the Twins will need to re-tool their rotation, with 3/5 of the guys headed for free agency. Martin Perez is likely to stick around on a team option, and Jose Berrios is still under team control, so those guys will be alright, and Smeltzer/Stewart/Thorpe can probably fill another hole, that still leaves a couple open slots for the Twins. I would hate to need to rely on the three rookies until they force the issue, as this offense seems to be built for a run of sustained success.