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How far Minnesota Twins starting pitching has come in a decade

“Let’s see how far we’ve come...”

Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

I realize that this exact moment might not be the best to praise the starting pitching of the Minnesota Twins, what with the staff being a little shaky post-All Star Break. But for most of the 2023 season, that unit has kept the Twins at or near the top of the AL Central (for what it’s worth, admittedly). When you consider where the Twins organization was a decade ago, 2023 represents a light-speed leap forward.

In 2013, the Twins had 10 pitchers make 8 or more starts...

  • Kevin Correia: 31 GS, 98 ERA+
  • Mike Pelfrey: 29 GS, 79 ERA+
  • Scott Diamond: 24 GS, 75 ERA+
  • Sam Deduno: 18 GS, 107 ERA+
Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins
Samuel Deduno: 2013 ace!
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
  • Pedro Hernandez: 12 GS, 60 ERA+
  • Kyle Gibson: 10 GS, 63 ERA+
  • Andrew Albers: 10 GS, 101 ERA+
  • Vance Worley: 10 GS, 57 ERA+
  • Liam Hendriks: 8 GS, 60 ERA+
  • P.J. Walters: 8 GS, 69 ERA+
Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers
Indisputable visual evidence that a P.J. Walters pitched for the Twins in 2013.
Photo by Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

Average ERA+ of the meaningful 2013 starting pitchers: 77

Let’s compare that to 2023 thus far, where just seven hurlers—telling in its own right—have toed a virgin rubber five or more times...

  • Pablo Lopez: 21 GS, 104 ERA+
  • Joe Ryan: 20 GS, 111 ERA+
  • Sonny Gray: 20 GS, 137 ERA+
  • Bailey Ober: 16 GS, 156 ERA+
  • Louie Varland: 10 GS, 82 ERA+
  • Kenta Maeda: 10 GS, 94 ERA+
  • Tyler Mahle: 5 GS, 138 ERA+
Baltimore Orioles v Minnesota Twins
What T.J. is/was to Kyle Gibson I might be becoming to Ober
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Average ERA+ of the meaningful 2023 starting pitchers: 117

If you are using Bert Blyleven’s California math to follow along at home, the ‘13 Twins were 23% worse than the average starter while the ‘23 gang has been 17% better.

As I hinted at in the opening paragraph, Twins starters still have a few things to prove in the season’s final months: Can Ryan stop giving up gopher balls? Can Gray harness his bouts of wildness? Will Pablo’s impressive outliers eventually lead to tangible results? Will Maeda & Ober continue pumping out quality starts?

No matter how it all shakes out in August’s dog days or September’s stretch run, Twins Territory has certainly come a long way in expecting greatness—with a baseline of competency—out of their starting pitchers.