Bold = Player new to Minnesota in 1986
SP Bert Blyleven 17-14 4.01 ERA 107 ERA+ 1.18 WHIP 4.33 FIP 0.9 PW 18 WS 3.8 WAR
Blyleven’s 1986 season is famous for a dubious record that still stands. Blyleven allowed 50 home runs over the course of the 271.2 innings he pitched. The early part of the season was terrible for Bert – 30 of his home runs allowed came before July 9 – but he was able to turn things around and had a solid second half, including a stretch of 11 starts from mid-July to August in which Blyleven was 8-2 with a 1.59 ERA. On August 1, Blyleven recorded his 3,000th career strikeout in a 10-1 victory over Oakland; a game in which Kirby Puckett hit for the cycle.
SP Frank Viola 16-13 4.51 ERA 95 ERA+ 1.38 WHIP 4.22 FIP -0.6 PW 13 WS 2.4 WAR
The Twins were hoping that Viola would take a step forward in 1986, but he really took a step back. He suffered one of his worst career seasons in 1986. He showed some durability, however – Viola led the league with 37 games started.
SP Mike Smithson 13-14 4.77 ERA 90 ERA+ 1.47 WHIP 4.40 FIP -1.4 PW 9 WS 0.1 WAR
At the beginning of the season Smithson was the team’s most reliable starter, though that was mostly due to poor starts from Blyleven and Viola. Unlike Blyleven, Smithson struggled in the second half of the season.
SP Neal Heaton 4-9 3.98 ERA 108 ERA+ 1.41 WHIP 4.75 FIP 0.5 PW 7 WS 1.6 WAR
When John Butcher was struggling early in the season, the Twins swapped him for another pitcher who seemed to need a change of scenery. Neal Heaton had been impressive as a rookie for the Cleveland Indians in 1983, but had struggled since. He hadn’t had a winning season since his rookie year, but some of that was due to bad luck and bad offense. He pitched well for the Twins, but his reputation as a pitcher with a poor record was not helped by his 4-9 record. The Twins used Heaton as a bargaining chip to get Jeff Reardon in the offseason, making the Butcher-for-Heaton trade one of the more productive trades in team history (Butcher was cut by the Indians at the end of the season).
SP Mark Portugal 6-10 4.31 ERA 91 ERA+ 1.44 WHIP 4.09 FIP 0.2 PW 7 WS 1.7 WAR
A 23-year-old rookie, Portugal made his mark with a late-September start against the Rangers. He lost the game, but struck out 13 in the complete-game, 2-1 loss. Portugal would hang on with the Twins through two more up and down seasons, but ultimately he was traded to the Astros for a player to be named. He had a successful few seasons with Houston both as a starter and reliever.
SP/RP Allan Anderson 3-6 5.55 ERA 77 ERA+ 1.61 WHIP 4.36 FIP -0.9 PW 2 WS -0.1 WAR
The second-round draft pick from 1982 made his way to the majors in 1986 and served as a spot-starter and long reliever for the Twins.
CL Ron Davis 2-6 9.08 ERA 47 ERA+ 2.17 WHIP 6.13 FIP -3.5 PW 0 WS -2.2 WAR
Davis had an excruciatingly bad start to the season. Somehow, the Twins were able to get some value for Davis in a trade with the Cubs.
CL Keith Atherton 5-8 3.75 ERA 114 ERA+ 1.43 WHIP 4.08 FIP 0.9 PW 8 WS 1.1 WAR
With Davis’ nose dive, the Twins found themselves in the market for a closer. Keith Atherton had a few good seasons with the A’s but was struggling to start 1986. The Twins acquired Atherton for a player to be named. He pitched well as the closer, but the team saw him as more of a set up man.
RP Roy Lee Jackson 0-1 3.86 ERA 111 ERA+ 1.25 WHIP 4.21 FIP 0.1 PW 4 WS 0.3 WAR
The Twins signed Jackson as a free agent prior to the season. The 32-year-old had been an effective reliever for the Mets, Blue Jays, and Padres for a decade. He was effective in 1986, but it was his final season in the major leagues.
RP Frank Pastore 3-1 4.01 ERA 107 ERA+ 1.58 WHIP 4.55 FIP 0.0 PW 3 WS 0.1 WAR
Pastore was a fairly effective starting pitcher for the Reds in the early part of the decade, but was hit on the arm with a batted ball and had missed much of the 1984 and 1985 seasons because of that and other arm problems. He signed as a free agent with the Twins just prior to the season.