As news trickles in that the Twins actively are pursuing another bargain-bin scrapheap special in lefty pitcher Joe Saunders, we got to thinking about how improved — if at all — the 2013 Twins starting rotation figures to be compared to the 2012 edition.
Let’s go with the six most prominent starters of a year ago:
• Scott Diamond: 12-9 with a 3.54 ERA and a WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) of 1.243 in 173 innings
• Francisco Liriano: 3-10 with a 5.31 ERA and a WHIP of 1.440 in 100 innings
• Nick Blackburn: 4-9 with a 7.39 ERA and a WHIP of 1.713 in 98 2/3 innings
• Cole De Vries: 5-5 with a 4.11 ERA and a WHIP of 1.209 in 87 2/3 innings
• Liam Hendriks: 1-8 with a 5.59 ERA and a WHIP of 1.547 in 85 1/3 innings
• Sam Deduno: 6-5 with a 4.44 ERA and a WHIP of 1.544 in 79 innings
Now, let’s look at the six starters most likely to comprise the 2013 rotation — at least initially — and the stats they compiled last year:
• Diamond: see above
• De Vries: see above
• Hendriks: see above
• Vance Worley: 6-9 with a 4.20 ERA and a WHIP of 1.511 in 133 innings while pitching for Philadelphia
• Kevin Correia: 12-11 with a 4.21 ERA and a WHIP of 1.298 in 171 innings while pitching for Pittsburgh
• Mike Pelfrey: 0-0 with a 2.29 ERA and a WHIP of 1.424 in 19 2/3 innings while pitching for the New York Mets (had Tommy John surgery on May 1)
Other names to consider include promising prospect Kyle Gibson (coming off Tommy John surgery), Rich Harden (signed to a minor league contract) and Saunders (a free agent).
It’s hard to imagine that this year’s starting rotation could be any worse than what the Twins trotted out in 2012. Then again, this year’s collection of arms isn’t inspiring anyone to start printing AL Central Division champion T-shirts quite yet. But options are good, and the Twins — at the very least — have more options than they did a year ago, including a couple reliable veterans.