The Minnesota Twins were a surprise AL Wild-Card contender in 2017, led by veteran right-hander Ervin Santana. Santana posted a career year on the mound, finishing with a 16-8 record and leading the MLB in complete games (5) and shutouts (3).
Even at the age of 35, Santana proved age wasn’t a deterrent to his production.
With expectations high in the Twin Cities heading into the 2018 season, the Twins will be without their ace for the start of the season. Just one week ago, the team announced Santana underwent surgery on his right third metacarpophalangeal joint.
According to Fantasy Doctors expert Dr. Jesse Morse, 8-12 weeks is a reasonable timeline for Santana’s return.
“It is unclear if he suffered the injury earlier in the off-season or just now,” said Morse. “Long-term implications are unknown at this time about how this will affect his ability to pitch. Will need lots of therapy and may still recontract.”
Santana reportedly felt discomfort in his finger but opted for injections at the time instead of surgery. Now, the injury has gotten bad enough where Santana is opting for a procedure, which is never a good sign.
It’s a significant blow to the Twins’ starting rotation. Santana was expected to be the Opening Day starter come March and now he faces an uphill battle heading into the 2018 season. Kyle Gibson or José Berríos are the likely starters to replace Santana. Both posted double-digit wins during 2017 and quietly provided plenty of production behind Santana’s incredible season.
The American League Central division won’t prove to be any easier for the Twins in 2018. The Cleveland Indians are still the top dog while the Royals and White Sox will look to improve off disappointing seasons. Santana’s injury will be a bump in the road that Paul Molitor and his coaching staff will look to overcome at the start of the season.
Likely considered a top pitching option heading into your fantasy MLB draft, Santana could be put on the DL backburner until he makes his return down the road. The expectation is for Santana to return to full strength but it’s a risky move to consider him in the early rounds. Fantasy users should approach his stock with caution, especially given the age factor.
However, if value opportunity is available, Santana could certainly still produce solid numbers the rest of the season.