The Minnesota Twins obviously haven't had the season they planned on having when they left Fort Myers for Milwaukee leading up to Opening Day. A big reason why they aren't in playoff contention is their pitching staff, which has allowed the second most runs in the American League (739) behind the rebuilding Baltimore Orioles (881).
However, Michael Pineda has done his job in 2021. He has been Minnesota's best starting pitcher excluding Jose Berrios, who's pitching well in Toronto with the Blue Jays. Pineda, 32, owns a 3.62 ERA with a 1.235 WHIP in 22 games.
Manager Rocco Baldelli is aware of Pineda's strong season and is putting pressure on the Twins front office to bring Pineda back in free agency this coming offseason. Following Pineda's start on Wednesday night where he allowed just one run in 5.1 innings of work, Baldelli expressed his desire to manage Pineda again in 2022.
"I hope that's not the last time we're going to be taking him out of a ballgame in a Twins uniform, but it was definitely a very nice way to end his season," Baldelli told the media. "He's been about as important of a member of this group over the last three years as anyone. He's been a constant, his performance has been a constant, his leadership has been a constant, and his personality, too, which matters."
Consistent starting pitching is something Minnesota needs in the future. And what makes Pineda attractive is he is able to keep his team in the ballgame night in and night out. He has only allowed more than three runs in a start four times this entire season. Add that to the fact that Pineda loves being in Minnesota and it's a perfect combination of reasons to bring him back to Target Field.
"I'm a Minnesota Twin, and I know I want to stay here," Pineda stated on July 26. He echoed that same sentiment on Wednesday night. "I love the city and I love everybody here. If I [get] the opportunity to be back, I'd be happy."
If the Twins want an improved pitching staff next season, they don't have to totally clean house. They have a few starters, such as Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober, who can help them in 2022 and beyond. Another one of them, without a doubt, is Michael Pineda.