The Twins’ best two starters this year arguably are former Yankees J.A. Happ and Michael Pineda.
Kenta Maeda finished second for the AL Cy Young last year. Jose Berrios perennially appears a pitcher talented enough to win the award. But the Twins’ best two starters this year arguably are former Yankees J.A. Happ and Michael Pineda.
They are scheduled to start Wednesday and Thursday to close out a three-game series against the White Sox. It is still early — not even Memorial Day — but this is an important series for Minnesota. The Twins are the majors’ most disappointing team to date. They were 12-20 to begin this series, a better record than just the awful Rockies and Tigers. The White Sox were in first place and — even with outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert out for a long time and persistent questions if returning manager Tony La Russa has lost his Hall of Fame glean — Chicago is the AL Central team to beat.
The Twins own that embarrassing MLB record of 18 straight postseason losses. Still, they are the two-time defending AL Central champs and were built to contend this year. But if not — and the Twins began this series already seven games behind the White Sox — they will have interesting trade chips come July. That will include Happ (1.91 ERA) and Pineda (2.43), in part because they are both free agents after this season, as are Andrelton Simmons, who remains a defensive whiz at short, and DH Nelson Cruz, who despite being the oldest active position player at 40 with Albert Pujols currently in limbo, remains an elite hitter.
Happ knows the drill, already having been traded in July four times — last from the Blue Jays to the Yankees in 2018. Pineda missed the 2018 season following Tommy John surgery and was suspended 60 games in 2019 after testing for a banned diuretic. In his time with the Twins, though, he has mainly been what the Yanks had once hoped, delivering a 3.67 ERA (2.43 this year) in 37 starts while becoming a top control pitcher.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Joel Sherman