Derek Falvey's first season as the boss was 2017 and the Twins went through 35 pitchers. They did this even though Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson and Jose Berrios combined for 85 starts and 515 innings.
The American League's second wild card became a pillow fight and the Twins entered the market for veteran starters. They signed Bartolo Colon on July 7, three days after he was released by Atlanta. On July 24, they made a trade with Atlanta for lefthander Jaime Garcia.
Colon made 15 starts, providing a high ERA and many laughs. Garcia made one start, the Twins decided they were dead in the wild-card crawl, and traded him to the Yankees on July 30.
Three seasons later, Huascar Ynoa, the pitching prospect purloined from the Twins in the Garcia trade, could be seen throwing impressively at age 22 for Atlanta in the 2020 postseason.
As it turned out, the 2017 Twins had an 18-7 run over the last 26 days of August, claimed the second wild card at 85-77 and, shockingly, lost the one-game playoff to the Yankees in the Bronx.
Paul Molitor was voted AL Manager of the Year for 2017 and then fired after 2018. The Twins went from holdover Neil Allen as pitching coach, to Garvin Alston for Molitor's last season, and brought in Wes Johnson to serve as the pitching savant for new manager Rocco Baldelli (AL Manager of the Year as a rookie in 2019).
What hasn't changed from old-school Allen to newest-school Johnson, from Molitor to Baldelli, from July 2017 to March 2021 in Fort Myers, Fla., is the Falvey regime's fondness for bringing in starters who appear to be well past their best.
The first such flier taken was Anibal Sanchez for spring training 2018. The Twins' baseball analysts, led since December 2017 by Josh Kalk, saw possibilities of revitalizing Sanchez with more and better use of his breaking ball.
Much ridicule was aimed at the Twins for mentioning Sanchez in the same sentence with Jake Odorizzi (acquired in a trade) as possibilities for an improved rotation.
As it turned out, the Twins signed free agent Lance Lynn for the cut rate of $12 million on March 10, and released Sanchez. He signed with Atlanta and pitched much better there than did Lynn in his unhappy four months and 20 starts in Minnesota.
"That was one we'd like to have back," Falvey said this month, meaning the release of Sanchez.
The discovery for 2019 was Martin Perez, a failed phenom in Texas. The Twins handed him a cutter and told him to throw it often. He started very well, then was awful, and finished with a 5.12 ERA in a robust 165⅓ innings.
Overall, the Perez reclamation was a success, especially for Perez, who is still going as an important starter for Boston. (Note: Another reason the previously proud Red Sox are doomed to be also-rans in the AL East.)
In what became the mini-season of 2020, the veteran starters brought in were Homer Bailey and Rich Hill. Hill tried; Homer pitched eight innings.
Bailey was signed for $7 million, based on small evidence of competence in Oakland. Whatever prorated share of the 7-large the Twins had to pay, they should have lit it on fire and had a weenie roast.
And now comes a new season, with Kenta Maeda, Berrios and the ever-mysterious Michael Pineda as the top three, followed by the Vets of 2021:
Lefthander J.A. Happ, 38, and righthander Matt Shoemaker, 34, much-injured, but quite a pitcher back in 2014.
Happ pitched the other afternoon in Fort Myers, If this had been another era, you would have heard a fan bellowing, "Get the married men off the infield.''
Spring training, but, dang, those line drives were loud.
When the prize starter developed entering Year 5 of this regime is Randy Dobnak, signed originally out of a low-level independent league in July 2017 for the price of a Big Mac meal, the failure to launch a young starter with exceptional stuff has to be a disappointment, right?
"I don't see it that way," Falvey said. "I like our young group that's on the way."
Jordan Balazovic, drafted in 2016. Jhoan Duran, the prize for Eduardo Escobar in a trade in July 2018. Matt Canterino, 23, second-rounder out of Rice in 2019, and of great interest to the Twins this spring. Maybe Bailey Ober, now 25, or Josh Winder, 24.
Pick one or two. The rotation needs a higher gear.
The lost minor league season of 2020 obviously slowed progress, but this summer is the time to see the next Berrios (22 when he debuted) starting games at Target Field.
We aren't getting any younger, Mr. Falvey, especially me.