As the Minnesota Twins continue to search for another high-end pitcher to plug into their rotation for the upcoming season, they now may need to further increase their efforts after today's news. Starting pitcher Ervin Santana, the team's ace, underwent surgery on the middle finger of his throwing hand Tuesday and is expected to miss 10-to-12 weeks of action. Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com first reported the news.
In the days leading up to Feb.13, when Twins' pitchers and catchers report to spring training, Santana experienced increasing discomfort in the middle finger and tests revealed he needed a capsule release procedure. Given the current 10-to-12 week timetable, it's reasonable to expect Santana will not return to the mound in a meaningful game until the start of May.
Now Minnesota will be without its ace and likely Opening Day starter for an early stretch of the season. The 35-year-old pitched extremely well for the Twins last season with a 3.28 ERA and served as the team's reliable workhorse with 211 1/3 innings pitched last season.
Santana's absence shouldn't impact his fantasy value too significantly. He entered the month as a consensus top-45 pitcher in 2018 fantasy rankings and missing four-to-five starts should keep him inside the top-50 ranks for starting pitchers. He'll almost certainly fall short of 200-plus innings this season, but he will pitch in a good park with a productive lineup behind him and should be a solid back-end starter for fantasy owners.
Minnesota's own back of the rotation largely remains a question mark. The team remains in the mix for the likes of Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb, while they could explore a trade for someone like Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jake Odorizzi. Until they bring in more pitchers, it's hard to know who will step into the rotation to fill the void in the first month of the season. Though given their lack of depth, none of their current options on the 40-man roster are fantasy names to monitor.