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Updated: July 13th, 2014 2:59pm
Mackey: The Twins' 2012 rotation was so much worse than we imagined

Mackey: The Twins' 2012 rotation was so much worse than we imagined

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by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- If you missed it over the weekend, the Minnesota Twins released 27-year-old left-hander Scott Diamond from the Triple-A Rochester roster to make room for Trevor May, who returned from a two-week DL stint with a strained calf.

Diamond's numbers were atrocious for the Red Wings - a 6.52 ERA with 109 hits allowed in 80 innings. It's amazing to think how far Diamond's stock has fallen since 2012 when he was the Twins' best starting pitcher.

Really though, the fact that Diamond was the Twins' ace in 2012 shows just how meager their starting pitching options were less than two years ago. The rotation was so much worse than we ever thought, and it's a surprise how they lost only 96 games.

Pulling up the Baseball-Reference page, I felt like Indiana Jones trying to shield my eyes from the Ark... 

The Twins allotted 27 starts that season to Diamond - who certainly earned them with his efficiency and ability to go deep into games, but who, as it turned out, was released from the organization less than two years later.

They also handed out 19 starts to beleaguered Nick Blackburn, who is now out of baseball due to injuries; 16 starts to Cole De Vries, who now works in real estate; 16 starts to Liam Hendriks, who still hasn't been able to shave his career major league ERA below 6.00; 12 starts to P.J. Walters, who is... well... P.J. Walters; And six starts to Esmerling Vasquez, who was last spotted in the Indy Leagues.

Not to mention a combined 31 starts to Brian Duensing, Sam Deduno and Anthony Swarzak, all of whom are relievers.

This was also the season Carl Pavano and Jason Marquis combined for a 7.00 ERA over 18 starts. Pavano is now working for Fox Sports Florida in Miami. Marquis is attempting to return from injury in the Phillies organization. 

That's 145 of a possible 162 starts to pitchers who, less than two years later, are currently unemployed, stuck in the minors, or mopping up in the bullpen.

My eyes!

Francisco Liriano made the other 17 starts, and even he was 3-10 with a 5.31 ERA (and more respectable 4.24 FIP) with 55 walks in 100 innings before the Twins traded him to the White Sox.

It's a subjective exercise to some degree, but have we ever seen a Twins rotation in shambles - especially in retrospect - like the 2012 collection? It ranked last in MLB in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), last in strikeouts, 29th in innings, 29th in ERA, 29th in FIP, 29th in HR rate, 28th in WHIP... The list goes on.

How much better are things for the Twins' starting staff now? To be honest, the statistics say they're still awful. Despite moving up to 18th in WAR, Twins starters still rank at or near the bottom of MLB in most major categories.

But the difference between 2012 and 2014 is outlook. Phil Hughes and Kyle Gibson have both been bright spots in the rotation, and the Twins have two of baseball's top pitching prospects knocking on the door in Alex Meyer, who could still make his major league debut this season, and J.O. Berrios, who was recently promoted to Double-A. Trevor May will probably make his debut within a few weeks. 

Things look bright, barring injuries. But let's never forget the summer of Esmerling Vasquez and P.J. Walters

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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