Dylan Bundy, a veteran of eight seasons and 189 big-league games, will make his final start of the 2022 season Saturday in Detroit.
Then, it's all up to the kids.
The Twins' starting pitchers in Chicago for the season's final series will be Bailey Ober, Josh Winder and Louie Varland, a trio of young righthanders who have 48 games of experience among them. And for Sunday's series finale in Detroit?
It could be an even newer face.
Simeon Woods Richardson, a rookie righthander acquired from Toronto in the Jose Berrios trade 14 months ago, is with the Twins at Comerica Park, along with a handful of other minor leaguers. But Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said before Friday's game that Woods Richardson, who turned 22 on Tuesday, will pitch before the major league season ends on Wednesday.
Woods Richardson, originally a second-round pick of the Mets in 2018, has had a strong season for the Twins despite missing more than a month on the COVID-19 list. He owned a 3.06 ERA at Class AA Wichita, and when he allowed only four runs in four consecutive starts in July and August, he was promoted to Class AAA St. Paul, where he has been even better.
After giving up three runs in his first start for the Saints, he allowed only seven runs in his remaining six starts, ending the Triple-A season with a 2.21 ERA.
Giving a promising young pitcher a taste of the big leagues as the season winds down seems like a logical choice — but it's actually quite rare. If Woods Richardson starts a game, he will be the first Twins starter ever to debut in the final week of a season.
Pitchers like Woods Richardson, Devin Smeltzer and Cole Sands are with the Twins this week, despite the Class AAA season ending last week, in order to meet with Baldelli and pitching coach Pete Maki and go over their plans for the winter.
"We're sitting down, one-on-one, with every pitcher to discuss their offseason plans," Maki said. "Give them a throwing program, talk about how long to shut down for, when to ramp up, how they're going to train. It's not a blanket answer for everybody. We take into account their habits and their plans."
The late-season injection of young pitchers has been enjoyable for the pitching coach, who took over the job when Wes Johnson departed for LSU on June 1.
"It's fun work. It's great to get some new pieces of clay, so to speak, right?" Maki said. "Guys who are new to this level, to teach them the difference in the game up here, all the nuances, it's fun for me. There's more to learn when you're new."
It also makes him excited for the Twins' staff in 2023, he said, when several of the dozen pitchers on the injured list will return.
"We have a lot of good arms. It'll be a really good staff next year," he said. " It'll be nice to have a lot of healthy guys."
Broadcasts to be determined
Nearly every Twins game is broadcast by Bally Sports North. Trouble is, BSN is not available on most streaming services, leaving only those fans who subscribe to a traditional cable hookup or DirecTV streaming service able to watch, a problem that has mushroomed over the past couple of seasons.
Twins President Dave St. Peter said he hopes that situation will change in 2023. But, he admitted, that's "to be determined."
"We're in an active conversation [with TV carriers]. That's all I can say," St. Peter said Thursday. "Some of that is out of our control. We're working on it. People suggest we're not aware of it — it keeps me up at night. We need to figure it out."
Whether that means BSN providing a standalone app for fans who stream content, or for MLB to take more direct control of regional sports networks, it's all being negotiated.
"It's fundamental to what we need to be. Our games need to be available and accessible, anywhere and any time," he said. "I'm very encouraged about the way the league is thinking about this over the long term. I think we're headed to a really exciting place."
The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.