MINNEAPOLIS - Originally published on TwinsDaily.com
The Twins will be taking the field in Chicago later this week for their long-awaited first game of the season. With a shortened 60-game season, there is little room for error. This will put added pressure on the team to stay healthy and for the active roster to perform at their optimal level. There are only days remaining until Opening Day so let’s take a look at the final roster prediction for the Twins 30-man roster.
Mitch Garver, Alex Avila
It would have seemed likely for Willians Astudillo to make the team’s Opening Day roster as a third catcher and a back-up player at other infield positions. His positive COVID-19 test and lengthy absence from Summer Camp means he will likely miss the beginning of the season. With Garver and Avila getting the bulk of the catching time, he likely wasn’t going to get many innings behind the plate. He will be available if Garver or Avila suffer any kind of injury or if the team needs another replacement level player on the roster. Garver is going to play more than people think and Avila is better than Twins fans expect.
Luis Arraez, Josh Donaldson, Marwin Gonzalez, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Ehire Adrianza, Travis Blankenhorn
Miguel Sano has been limited so far in Summer Camp due to the coronavirus, so it becomes next man up when it comes to the team’s roster. Marwin Gonzalez will likely start the season at first base which means the Twins could use another infield option. Travis Blankenhorn is versatile, and he is already on the 40-man roster. He might not get much playing time but having him on the roster will be a benefit to the team in the early going.
Byron Buxton, Jake Cave, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario, LaMonte Wade
There are some questions about how ready Byron Buxton will be for Opening Day and that means the Twins will likely carry a couple extra outfielders to start the year. Jake Cave has proven himself as a viable big-league option. LaMonte Wade saw his rookie year cut short by an injury, but he has all the skills to be a viable back-up outfielder. Kepler needs to prove last year wasn’t a fluke and Rosario needs to prove he is worth what the Twins would have to pay him in arbitration next year. That could result in a scary outfield duo.
Designated Hitter (1)
He’s 40-years old and he’s still going to mash the ball. It doesn’t matter how many games are in the season.
Starting Pitchers (5)
Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill, Homer Bailey
A Twins rotation hasn’t gotten me this excited since Johan Santana and Brad Radke occupied spots at the top. Rich Hill wasn’t expected to be part of this team at season’s start so adding him in is a huge bonus. Jhoulys Chacin would have likely played for the Twins if Hill wasn’t available, but Hill is ready and that means the Twins released Chacin over the weekend. These five pitchers will start games, but the Twins have bullpen options to pair with their starters and absorb early season innings.
Relief Pitchers (10)
Taylor Rogers, Sergio Romo, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, Tyler Clippard, Zack Littell, Matt Wisler, Cody Stashak, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer
The Twins might be setting up to use younger starters like Stashak, Dobnak, ad Smeltzer as the first options out of the bullpen. This could allow the team to pair up lefties and righties to make it tough on line-up construction for the opposition. Taylor Rogers has already proven he can go multiple innings and the late inning combination of Romo, Duffey and May could be lights-out. Add in Clippard and Little in the middle innings and it’s tough to think of a contending bullpen with the same firepower as the Twins.