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Updated: September 22nd, 2012 10:46am
Scott Diamond currently the only starter penciled into 2013 rotation

Scott Diamond currently the only starter penciled into 2013 rotation

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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The Minnesota Twins have plenty of work to do this offseason to fix the American League's worst starting pitching rotation.

In an interview with 1500 ESPN's Reusse & Mackey Show on Friday, manager Ron Gardenhire acknowledged that left-hander Scott Diamond is currently the only starting pitcher penciled into next year's rotation.

"Diamond for sure," Gardenhire said. "I've got to believe he's done enough this year to say he's in our rotation. Outside of that, the rest of it's... We've got to figure it out. ...

"Diamond, and then we work our way from there."

The Twins have used 12 different starting pitchers this year, and only Diamond, 26, and Samuel Deduno have posted ERAs under 4.00.

Diamond's best assets are his control and ability to pitch deep into games, but as his innings have risen his performance has suffered. The left-hander owns a 3.69 ERA for the season but a 7.33 ERA over his last four starts (23 1/3 innings).

Deduno has impressed at times with his filthy and at times unhittable stuff, but his 48 walks in 75 innings are a major concern. And because Deduno is 29 years old, there are no guarantees his control will suddenly sharpen.

"Deduno's had some pretty good performances," Gardenhire said, "but he's also had some that just went totally off the other way."

Gardenhire also said he will likely tell Brian Duensing to prepare this offseason as if he will be a starter, although Duensing's struggles against right-handed batters likely make him more of a bullpen candidate long-term.

In previous seasons, the Twins -- for better or worse -- had the luxury of knowing what most of the starting rotation would look like heading into the offseason, with the likes of Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn and others under contract.

Pavano will hit free agency in less than two months, Baker is recovering from Tommy John surgery, Liriano was traded in July and Blackburn is no longer on the 40-man roster.

The Twins are likely to have approximately $75 million tied up with their current roster when free agency opens up. If they payroll remains between $90 and $100 million, the front office will be able to spend on pitching, but general manager Terry Ryan has hinted the Twins won't be big spenders.

Trading for starting pitching also remains a strong possibility.

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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