Bold = Player new to Minnesota in 1978
SP Dave Goltz 15-10 2.49 ERA 155 ERA+ 1.25 WHIP 3.17 FIP 3.5 PW 19 WS 5.8 WARP3
Though Goltz tends to get credit for a career year in 1977, the fact is that, in almost all categories, 1978 was better. 1977 looks better due to more innings pitched and the magical “20” wins. He shaved almost a full run from his 1977 ERA. Unfortunately for Goltz and the Twins, he missed about 10 starts mostly due to injuries, including a rib injury suffered in an on-field scuffle and a burn to his pitching hand from a backyard grill.
SP Geoff Zahn 14-14 3.03 ERA 127 ERA+ 1.35 WHIP 3.68 FIP 2.1 PW 17 WS 4.5 WARP3
Zahn improved upon his best season as a professional with an even better season in 1978. With 252 innings pitched it was also his busiest major league season.
SP Roger Erickson 14-13 3.96 ERA 97 ERA+ 1.31 WHIP 3.59 FIP -0.2 PW 12 WS 2.0 WARP3
Erickson was drafted out of the University of New Orleans and spent just a year in the minors before debuting with the Twins. He had a very good rookie season and was the talk of the Twins pitching staff despite strong showings from other starters. Erickson on being in the major leagues (as quoted by Robert H. Boyle in Sports Illustrated): “In the clubhouse they’ve got a candy rack, just like in the drugstore, and it’s all for the players. I couldn’t believe it. I stuffed myself on licorice the first night.”
SP Gary Serum 9-9 4.10 ERA 94 ERA+ 1.26 WHIP 3.47 FIP -0.2 PW 8 WS 1.6 WARP3
Serum was nicknamed “Truth” by his teammates and made the Twins after attending a tryout camp. 1978 was his busiest and most productive season.
RP Mike Marshall 10-12 2.45 ERA 157 ERA+ 1.18 WHIP 3.00 FIP 3.2 PW 14 WS 5.5 WARP3
By the time Marshall joined the Twins as a free agent prior to the 1978 season he had already won a Cy Young award as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1974. He had a bit of a rough season in 1977, but the 35-year-old showed that he had a lot of pitching left by compiling 99 innings pitched and a 2.45 ERA. So good was Marshall that, for the fourth time in his career, he received Cy Young award votes, finishing 7th in the AL voting in 1978.
Marshall had originally started in 1961 as a shortstop in the Philadelphia system. Though he made the All-Star team as an infielder at every level at which he played, Marshall became a pitcher by 1965.
While not playing Marshall was able to defeat the stereotype of the dumb jock. While he played baseball in the spring and summer, he continually pursued advanced degrees in the fall and winter. In September of 1978 Marshall completed his PhD in Exercise Physiology – presumably by working on his dissertation, entitled “A Comparison of an Estimate of Skeletal Age With Chronological Age When Classifying Adolescent Males for Motor Proficiency Norms,” while waiting for the phone to ring in the bullpen.
RP Greg Thayer 1-1 3.80 ERA 101 ERA+ 1.56 WHIP 4.90 FIP 0.1 PW 2 WS 0.5 WARP3
RP John Sutton 0-0 3.45 ERA 112 ERA+ 1.38 WHIP 3.74 FIP 0.1 PW 2 WS 0.3 WARP3
Thayer and Sutton were both solid relievers for the Twins in 1978, and did well for themselves even in Marshall’s shadow. For one reason or another, neither returned to the majors after 1978.