Bold = Player new to Minnesota in 1985
SP Frank Viola 18-14 4.09 ERA 107 ERA+ 1.32 WHIP 3.79 FIP 0.4 PW 16 WS 1.6 WAR
Viola took a few steps back in terms of performance, but many didn’t know it because his record still looked pretty good. The story of his season, however, may have been the spat with Roy Smalley in the middle of the season. After a game in which Smalley had misplayed a few balls, Viola told a reporter “it’s frustrating when you’re working your butt off and other people aren’t playing with intensity.” Smalley caught wind of the breach of clubhouse etiquette and the two had a heated exchange in the clubhouse. The next day, Smalley told reporters that the two had talked and cleared the air, though included in his comments was this shot: “He doesn’t have a good barometer for team intensity because he has enough problems doing his own job.” Viola reportedly ask that Smalley not start at shortstop the next time he pitched.
SP Mike Smithson 15-14 4.34 ERA 100 ERA+ 1.33 WHIP 4.05 FIP 0.3 PW 15 WS 2.2 WAR
Like many on the team Smithson struggled for a good chunk of the season. Smithson had a tough first half of the season, but was able to bring his numbers to a more respectable level with a better second half.
SP John Butcher 11-14 4.98 ERA 88 ERA+ 1.36 WHIP 4.01 FIP -1.2 PW 8 WS 0.1 WAR
Unlike Smithson, who turned things around and pitched well later in the season, Butcher was not as able to turn things around. His September ERA was 7.71, and the speculation was that Butcher was going to have to compete for a spot in the rotation in 1986.
SP Ken Schrom 9-12 4.99 ERA 88 ERA+ 1.39 WHIP 5.13 FIP -0.9 PW 7 WS 0.1 WAR
Schrom’s season was, for the most part, a bust. The Twins’ pitcher of the year from 1983 pitched his way off of the team in 1985. He was traded to Cleveland in January of 1986. By July 23, Schrom had compiled an 11-2 record and looked to be regaining his form. He came back down to earth, however, and only won nine more games in his career.
SP Bert Blyleven 8-5 3.00 ERA 146 ERA+ 1.11 WHIP 3.10 FIP 1.7 PW 11 WS 2.3 WAR
Blyleven had pitched a couple of good seasons with the Cleveland Indians, but had begun to wear out his welcome. When fans expressed frustration towards Blyleven in June, he responded with an obscene gesture. The writing was on the wall, Blyleven wanted out of Cleveland and the Indians wanted to get rid of Blyleven. The hope was that a deal could be made with the Angels, just a short drive from Blyleven’s home. The Twins, however, would not give up their waiver claim on the pitcher who had started his career with them 15 years before. Blyleven ended up coming back to Minnesota. He pitched very well down the stretch, earning a contract extension.
CL Ron Davis 2-6 3.48 ERA 126 ERA+ 1.39 WHIP 3.67 FIP 1.1 PW 10 WS 0.9 WAR
By 1985 it could be fairly stated that almost every member of the Minnesota sporting public had turned on Ron Davis. One of the hold outs was Howard Fox, meaning that Davis’ job with the Twins was safe even after his late season meltdowns in 1984. Despite having the faith of Fox, Davis continued to struggle. He may have hit rock bottom on May 13. After having allowed a Don Mattingly three-run home run to lose the game, Davis broke down in tears in front of several members of the press. In subsequent outings in his home stadium, the crowd would often boo when the manager would visit the mound if a starter was still in the game – a statement directed nearly as much at the rest of the bullpen as it was at Davis himself. Davis actually turned the season around shortly after. From June 1 to August 28, Davis appeared in 27 games. He allowed just three earned runs over that stretch, posting a 0.92 ERA. It was probably too little too late for Twins’ fans, who displayed a long memory when it came to Davis. A terrible start in 1986 set up the inevitable: Ron Davis was traded to the Cubs. He is still a player that the very mention of his name can make Twins fans cringe, but Ron Davis could, at times, be a dominant pitcher.
RP Pete Filson 4-5 3.67 ERA 119 ERA+ 1.29 WHIP 4.51 FIP 0.7 PW 8 WS 1.2 WAR
Filson continued to be the Twins’ most reliable option out of the bullpen, but his true value might have come in the fact that he could also start games if necessary. Filson did not pitch well early in the 1986 season, and was quickly traded to the White Sox in the deal that brought Juan Agosto to Minnesota.
RP Frank Eufemia 4-2 3.79 115 ERA+ 1.25 WHIP 4.21 FIP 0.5 PW 6 WS 0.5 WAR
Eufemia was a diminutive relief pitcher who threw about 80 miles per hour at his top speed. Though he had success in the minor leagues, the Twins were reluctant to promote him for a number of reasons. Their hand was forced by a poor bullpen performance, and Eufemia filled the bill nicely, putting together a good streak of appearances around the same time as Davis’ streak. Though he was one of the few bright spots for the Twins, Eufemia never returned to the major leagues.
RP Rick Lysander 0-2 6.05 ERA 72 ERA+ 1.54 WHIP 3.55 FIP -0.5 PW 1 WS -0.8 WAR
RP Curt Wardle 1-3 5.51 ERA 80 ERA+ 1.57 WHIP 4.93 FIP -0.3 PW 1 WS -0.5 WAR