How important are 30 or more starts in a season from each starting pitcher?

The Twins and Terry Ryan have put in a lot of time this off-season to try to round up some pitchers that they can put in the starting rotation so that manager Gardenhire can hopefully call on each of them to start 30-35 games each. That will be no easy task as last season the team leader in pitching starts was Scott Diamond with 27 and he didn’t even join the starting rotation until May 8th.

If you look back through franchise history you will find that the great Hall of Fame pitcher Walter (The Big Train) Johnson pitched for the Wasinhton Senators for 21 seasons from 1907-1927 and he started 666 games, that is an average of 31.71 starts each year for 21 years. He set the the franchise games started in a season record with 42 in 1910. Twins lefty Jim Kaat equalled that mark of 42 starts in the Twins 1965 AL Championship season and followed that up with 41 starts in 1966 making him the only pitcher in franchise history to have back-to-back 40+ starts seasons.

I thought it would be interesting to review the Gardenhire era from 2002 through 2012 to see how many pitchers he has had that have started 30 or more games in a season for the Twins.

2002 – Rick Reed and Kyle Lohse

2003 – Brad Radke, Kyle Lohse, Kenny Rogers, Joe Mays (and Rick Reed chipped in 27 starts)

2004 – Johan Santana, Carlos Silva, Brad Radke, and Kyle Lohse

2005 – Johan Santana and Brad Radke

2006 – Johan Santana and Carlos Silva

2007 – Johan Santana, Carlos Silva, and Boof Bonser

2008 – Nick Blackburn

2009 – Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker

2010 – Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano

2011 – Carl Pavano

2012 – None, Scott Diamond led the pack with 27

In this 11 year time frame the Twins have had 12 different pitchers provide 30 or more starts in a single season and only three of them were actually drafted by the Twins, the rest were acquired in another manner. Radke was an 8th round pick in 1991, Blackburn was a 29th round pick in 2001, and Scott Baker was a 2nd round pick in 2003.

Chart showing numbers of pitchers with 30 or more starts

(Central Division champs marked with an *)
YEAR Twins Tigers Indians WSox Royals Totals
2002 2* 2 1 3 2 10
2003 4* 2 1 4 1 12
2004 4* 4 3 2 1 14
2005 2 3 5 4* 2 16
2006 2* 4 3 5 0 14
2007 3 2 3* 4 1 13
2008 1 2 1 4* 3 11
2009 2* 3 0 3 1 9
2010 2* 2 1 3 2 10
2011 1 4* 2 2 2 11
2012 0 3* 2 1 2 8
Totals 23 31 22 35 17 128
LHP Jim Kaat

LHP Jim Kaat

Pitcher # of starts Years Pitched Avg. # of starts per season
1. Jim Kaat 422 1961-1973 32.46
2. Brad Radke 377 1995-2006 31.42
3. Bert Blyleven 345 1970-1976 & 1985-1988 31.36
4. Frank Viola 259 1982-1989 32.38
5. Jim Perry 249 1963-1972 24.90
6. Dave Goltz 215 1972-1979 26.88
7. Kevin Tapani 180 1989-1995 25.71
8. Camilo Pascual 179 1961-1966 29.83
9. Johan Santana 175 2000-2007 21.88
10. Eric Milton 165 1998-2003 27.50
11. Scot Baker 159 2005-2011 22.71
12. Scott Erickson 153 1990-1995 25.50
13. Kyle Lohse 152 2001-2006 25.33
14. Dave Boswell 150 1964-1970 21.43
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