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Yes, the bullpen needs fixing—but let’s not forget about a third playoff starter

Trying to avoid a Boof Bonser or Randy Dobnak situation

Minnesota Twins’ starting pitcher Boof Bonser had a long night, losing to the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Saturday, August 12, 2006. (Marlin Levison/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT) Photo by MARLIN LEVISON/Star Tribune via Getty Images

To state the obvious in the lead up to the MLB trade deadline (August 2nd): the Minnesota Twins need another dependable relief arm. Full stop. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. A bullpen cannot live on Duran alone. That being said, I’d also implore Twins ownership to strongly consider adding a playoff-caliber rotation arm for the stretch run.

If the Twins capture the AL Central, the most likely first-round playoff scenario—short of catching New York or Houston for byes, which seems highly unlikely—is hosting the new 3-game Wild Card series. Right now, the Twins have two starters in which I’d have confidence toeing the postseason rubber:

  • Joe Ryan: Electric stuff and pitching wisdom well beyond his years. He got the Opening Day nod for a reason—I’d be fine with him starting Game One of a playoff tilt.
  • Sonny Gray: Has pitched quite well when healthy this year and has previous postseason experience with Oakland & NYY.
Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers
I’m fine with a Sonny playoff start
Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

But what about the third required starter in a WC round? Here are the options—and my brief thoughts on them—as things currently stand:

  • Chris Archer: Best stuff of those remaining but will provide absolutely no length, rendering one contest a “bullpen game” almost by default unless his usage pattern really changes.
  • Dylan Bundy: Too up-and-down to trust with a playoff horsehide sphere. Sure, he might shine for 5-6 innings—but a 1-2 inning atrocity is equally likely.
  • Bailey Ober: If healthy, I probably would trust Ober with a playoff start (I’m higher on him than most). But injuries have kept him sidelined for so long now that the time remaining for him to round into any sort of playoff-ready form is dwindling.
Kansas City Royals v Minnesota Twins
Can we get back to Game Ober, please?
Photo by David Berding/Getty Images
  • Josh Winder: Has shown flashes of utter dominance but doesn’t have even a month of consistent starting assignments under his belt. Winder is also on the injured list with a shoulder injury for the third time this year.
  • Devin Smeltzer: Nothing personal, but a Smeltzer playoff start would reek of front office disinterest and spark Bonser/Dobnak flashbacks.

Names like Luis Castillo & Tyler Mahle of the Reds and Frankie Montas of the A’s have been thrown around as potential SP targets, and I hope the Twins at least kick the tires and dicker—my late grandfather’s favorite word—with the dealer. I don’t know what the asking price for those players will be or what their long-term future in MN would look like. I do know that if Target Field plays host to an entire playoff series, I want the home team to give themselves a strong chance—from batter number one onward—to win each contest.

Oakland Athletics v New York Yankees
Yes, please
Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images