This is the Twins’ fifth implosion into complete ineptitude in the past six seasons. A common thread has been searching for discarded items in baseball’s dank basements to find starting pitchers in the closing weeks.
Or something like that.
Manager Paul Molitor made this threat on Friday: Hector (Boom Boom) Santiago will return to the rotation Monday in Cleveland, with the likelihood that he will be followed by Andrew Albers and Pat Dean.
I never thought I’d say this, but bring back Tommy Milone.
This decade’s standard for futility was set with a 16-54 finish in 2011 that left the Twins one heartbreaking victory from 100 losses (63-99). As the 2016 Twins head into September, getting to 100 losses won’t be a problem, and there’s a solid chance to surpass the Minnesota record of 102 losses in 1982.
Albers would be the 11th pitcher to get a start, and Jason Wheeler figures to become the 12th in September. He has had a good season at Class AAA Rochester, he’s a 6-6, 250-pound lefty, and he doesn’t throw hard.
That’s probably what the Twins like about Wheeler. They wouldn’t want a hard thrower to make the other lefthanded starters feel bad.
This isn’t going to change: Baseball requires a team to have a pitcher when in the field, including in the first inning. The Twins will need five to start next season.
As much as we’ll miss those tape-measure homers, I’m assuming Santiago will not be tendered a contract after the season. I’m also assuming there won’t be dramatic improvement in available options, so here’s a guess at the 2017 Twins’ opening rotation:
1. Ervin Santana. Rob Antony was right. At modern prices, $27 million for two more years of Big Erv is a good deal.
2. Kyle Gibson. Jack Morris had the solution for Gibson on FSN: “Stop nibbling. Worry about hitting the outer third, not the black.’’
3. Phil Hughes. With his shoulder fixed, this strike thrower can be an asset again.
4. Trevor May. Big man with an excellent changeup. He’s a starter.
5. Taylor Rogers. His experience as a big-league reliever will help. Best lefty option for 2017, easily.
PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK
Other starters who will be talked about next spring at Fort Myers:
Stephen Gonsalves: He’s 22, a lefty with good stuff and good numbers, but he’s known to have the same “nibbling’’ problem as Gibson.
Jose Berrios: Maybe if the Twins get two or three more consultants, he will be convinced to throw strikes.
Dan Johnson: Prediction: He will be in camp as 37-year-old knuckleballer. If he makes it, it’s a movie.
Read Patrick Reusse’s blog at startribune.com/patrick. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.