Last week, we looked at a couple of the Twins fifth starter candidates, Mike Pelfrey and Alex Meyer. This week we will continue to look at the Twins fifth starter candidates. Today, we will take a look at one of the newest pitchers in the Twins organization, Tim Stauffer.
Just before the holidays, the Twins signed 32-year-old, right-handed pitcher Tim Stauffer to a one-year contract worth $2.2 million. Though he has worked out of the San Diego Padres’ bullpen the past two seasons, he was told that he would be given an opportunity to start. Was that just something he was told by the Twins to get him to sign with them, or will he really be given a shot to leave Ft. Myers as the team’s fifth starter? Well, fortunately pitchers and catchers report in less than two weeks, so we’ll find out what kind of opportunity he really gets.
Stauffer was the first-round pick of the Padres in 2003. He was the fourth overall pick out of the University of Richmond. During his first professional season (2004), he started in High-A and pitched at three levels. By mid-May of 2005, he had made his major league debut with San Diego. He pitched mostly in AAA in 2006 and 2007.
Unfortunately, he had shoulder surgery and missed the entire 2008 season and almost half of the 2009 season. He returned to the Padres and made 14 starts that year. In 2010, he posted a 1.85 ERA, mostly out of the Padres bullpen. That led to his best seasons, 2011, when he made 31 starts. He went 9-12 with a 3.73 ERA in 185.2 innings. He was set to be the 2012 Opening Day starter, but instead he had surgery on his flexor tendon and made just one appearance all year. And that brings us to the 2013 season and he’s been a pretty solid bullpen performer the last two years. He combined to go 9-3 with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. He’s also struck out 131 batters in 134 innings.
What is he?
Stauffer is a typical, standard, middle-of-the-road, back-of-a-rotation starting pitcher in terms of his stuff. He has a good mix of pitches. His average fastball sits between 90 and 91 mph, and he throws it a little over half the time. He has added a cutter in the mid-80s which helps him get a lot of ground balls. His change-up sits around 80 mph, so it’s a good velocity difference from the fastball. He also has a slow curveball in the low-70s that he doesn’t throw a ton. Parker went into great details on what Stauffer is and what he throws in December. Be sure to read that here.
He needs to have very good control, and his career walks per nine average is at 3.0, which is really average. His career strikeout rate is 6.8 per nine, which again, is very average.
In other words, if he were to be the Twins 5th starter, and last the whole year, he would probably be... OK.
The hope, if Stauffer were named fifth starter, would be that he could work 185 innings like he did in 2011. Well, that may not actually be the goal. Stauffer, or others mentioned in this fifth starter debate, would presumably be just a stop gap. The bigger goal may be to have Trevor May or Alex Meyer fully ready for the role before midseason. Stauffer would then fall back into the Anthony Swarzak role. He’d be capable of pitching in long relief or 7th inning situations.
If I were to guess the odds that Tim Stauffer begins the season as the Twins fifth starter, I would probably put the odds at less than 1%.
Previous 5th starter candidate stories: