The AL Central has been considered by many one of the weaker divisions in baseball. Both the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox underachieved last season while the Cleveland Guardians quietly went about their business and won the division. Both the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers struggled early and were out of contention by June.
There seems to be a change in fortune for the Twins, who addressed their biggest weakness in 2022: Their starting rotation. Let’s take a look with the truth about Minnesota’s starting rotation and how it may be the difference maker for a division crown.
Truth: The Minnesota Twins will win the AL Central in 2023.
The Twins gave up American League batting champion Luis Arraez to Miami for Pablo López and a pair of young prospects in shortstop Jose Salas and outfielder Bryon Chourio. So far, the trade has worked for both teams.
López has been the ace the Twins needed to spearhead their rotation. So far, he’s 1-0 with an ERA of 1.35 and a FIP of 2.35. He has allowed just three earned runs and has struck out 26 in 20 innings of work. But he’s not the only Twins starter who is off to a good start. Both he and Sonny Gray are among the Top 10 in swing/take. In other words, they are getting hitters to swing in the shadow part of the strike zone efficiently.
Gray, who is in the final year of his five-year, $50.7 million dollar deal with the Twins, has also looked the part of a number one starter. In his April 7 start against the Astros, he struck out 13 over seven innings of work in a 3-2 win. His slider has been his best pitch to generate swings and so far, it has generated an impressive 59.1% whiff rate. Along with Joe Ryan, who has been also off to a good start, the Twins have arguably the best starting rotation in the division. He generated 15 swings and misses in Twins 11-2 beatdown of the Yankees on Thursday.
The Twins’ offense has been off to a slow start. One of the catalyst to the offense, Byron Buxton, suffered a scary moment on Wednesday, when he collided with White Sox infielder Lenyn Sosa.
Good news, he was in the lineup against the Yankees.