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2022’s starting pitching can’t be worse than a decade ago—can it?

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Auld acquaintances you’ll definitely want to forget

Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Right now, the area most prominently on the minds of Minnesota Twins fans is pitching. Starting pitching, to be more specific, or the lack thereof. If the Twins don’t make another move before Opening Day 2022, their starting five would proceed as follows:

  • Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Dylan Bundy, Griffin Jax, & Randy Dobnak

Not exactly a rotation that inspires confidence in fans’ hearts or strikes fear into opposing batters’ souls.

This pitching predicament—along with the recent calendar flip to ‘22—reminds me of the 2012 bunch and their, shall we say, lack of starting stature. Recollecting the ‘12 crew, here are the hurlers who ran out to the mound for the top of the first inning...

  • Scott Diamond (27 GS, 173 IP, 116 ERA+): Diamond was the best starting pitcher for the ‘12 Twins. Taking nothing away from a truly remarkably campaign that no one expected out of the southpaw, that first sentence is as sad as it is factual.
Tampa Bay Rays v Minnesota Twins
Diamond was legitimately a fun story in 2012, but never one that was going to last
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
  • Nick Blackburn (19 GS, 98.2 IP, 56 ERA+): Blackie’s ‘12 was Shoemaker-adjacent. ‘Nuff said.
  • Francisco Liriano (17 GS, 100 IP, 77 ERA+): Frankie’s ‘10 resurgence was firmly in the rear-view mirror by this point. At least the Twins got Eduardo Escobar for him in a ChiSox swap later that year.
  • Cole De Vries (16 GS, 87.2 IP, 100 ERA+): Like Diamond, De Vries was a fun story who momentarily defied the metrics to put together a solid season.
  • Liam Hendriks (16 GS, 85.1 IP, 73 ERA+): Definitely not the Hendriks currently dominating late-game situations for the White Sox.
  • Sam Deduno (15 GS, 79 IP, 92 ERA+): Used some nasty breaking stuff to flash real potential—until batters realized his fastball was Wild Thing-esque.
Cleveland Indians v Minnesota Twins
My grandfather called him “Sam Dedundo”, and that’s how I’ll always remember him
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
  • P.J. Walters (12 GS, 61.2 IP, 72 ERA+): Recorded a couple of good starts (one complete game!) and a bunch of bad ones.
  • Carl Pavano (11 GS, 63 IP, 69 ERA+): The Pav-stache was pretty much washed by the end of 2011, and this line proved the point.
  • Jason Marquis (7 GS, 34 IP, 49 ERA+): Yeesh—and we thought the J.A. Happ ‘21 over-the-hill vet signing was bad.
  • Esmerling Vasquez (6 GS, 31.2 IP, 73 ERA+): If you remember this guy, you are a better man than I, Charlie Brown.
New York Yankees v Minnesota Twins
Rare is the Twins player I have zero recollection of. Vasquez falls into that category.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Anthony Swarzak & Brian Duensing also made some starts for the 2012 team, but were primarily used out of the pen. Both sported ERA+ values around 80, so not exactly exceptions to any rules.

The overall point here? I know you’re concerned about the current starting pitching situation. So am I. But it is perhaps a somewhat comforting thought that the current regime—both in terms of front office & field talent—cannot possible sink to 2012 levels.

**looks around nervously**

Right?!