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Combo of vets, prospects set to fill out Twins' rotation

Hughes likely to be at top in 2015, with Meyer, May, Berrios eyeing back-end spots

MINNEAPOLIS -- The rotation has been a well-documented issue for the Twins during their struggles over the past four seasons. Their starters combined to finish 26th in the Majors with a 4.64 ERA in 2011, 29th with a 5.40 ERA in '12, 30th with a 5.26 ERA in '13 and currently rank 28th with a 4.97 ERA this season.

But the Twins have been adding rotation depth over the past year, including the recent pickup of left-hander Tommy Milone from the A's in the trade that sent outfielder Sam Fuld to Oakland on July 31.

Milone, who had a 3.84 ERA in parts of four seasons before joining Minnesota, was officially added to the rotation on Monday, replacing right-hander Kevin Correia, who was traded to the Dodgers on Saturday.

The Twins also picked up more depth in a trade with the Royals on Monday, acquiring Double-A right-hander Jason Adam in exchange for Josh Willingham.

Minnesota has three starting pitchers under contract for next season who were added as free agents -- right-handers Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey -- and several highly regarded prospects such as Alex Meyer, Trevor May and Jose Berrios.

Former top prospect Kyle Gibson has also been solid in his sophomore campaign, and the Twins have plenty of fifth-starter types in their organization such as Yohan Pino, Kris Johnson, Samuel Deduno and Logan Darnell.

With that in mind, here's a look at eight of Minnesota's starting-pitching options for the rest of this season and next year:

Pitcher: RHP Hughes
Contract status: Signed through 2016 as part of a thee-year, $24 million deal
Age: 28
2014 statistics: 24 GS, 12-8, 3.88 ERA, 150 2/3 IP, 134 K, 15 BB
The skinny: Hughes has been the club's best starter this season and figures to be at the top of the rotation again next year. He's cut his walk rate by more than half and has also been better at keeping the ball in the park this season. Hughes has proven to be a smart signing for the Twins, as he's bounced back from his struggles with the Yankees last season.

Pitcher: RHP Nolasco
Contract status: Signed through 2017 as part of a four-year, $49 million deal, with a $13 million club option for '18
Age: 31
2014 statistics: 18 GS, 5-7, 5.90 ERA, 103 2/3 IP, 72 K, 28 BB
The skinny: Nolasco has undoubtedly struggled this year and recently dealt with a strained right elbow that landed him on the 15-day disabled list. The Twins are counting on Nolasco to turn it around, especially considering he was signed to the largest free-agent deal in club history. His track record suggests he should be much better moving forward than what he's shown.

Pitcher: RHP Gibson
Contract status: Projected to be arbitration-eligible in 2017 and is under team control through '20
Age: 26
2014 statistics: 23 GS, 11-9, 3.96 ERA, 134 IP, 74 K, 39 BB
The skinny: Gibson struggled as a rookie last year, but he has fared much better this season. He's a ground-ball machine, which helps him make up for his lack of strikeouts. But Gibson has fallen into a pattern of either pitching really well or poorly, as he has a 1.07 ERA in his 11 wins and an 11.84 ERA in his nine losses.

Pitcher: LHP Milone
Contract status: Projected to be arbitration-eligible in 2015 and is under team control through '18
Age: 27
2014 statistics: 16 GS, 6-3, 3.52 ERA, 102 1/3 IP, 66 K, 29 BB between the A's and Twins
The skinny: Milone has proven to be a capable starter over the past four years and will get his chance to show what he can do the rest of the season as part of Minnesota's rotation. He's a finesse left-handed pitcher who doesn't light up the radar gun, but he gives the Twins much-needed rotation depth.

Pitcher: RHP Meyer
Contract status: Not on 40-man roster
Age: 24
2014 statistics: 23 GS, 6-5, 3.32 ERA, 114 IP, 132 K, 57 BB at Triple-A Rochester
The skinny: Meyer, ranked as the No. 30 overall prospect by, has fared well at Triple-A Rochester, but the Twins have been keeping him on a pitch count as a precaution, because he dealt with a shoulder injury last season. Meyer could also be shut down early this season or moved to the bullpen late in the year to limit his innings. But he's still expected to be a part of Minnesota's rotation in '15.

Pitcher: RHP May
Contract status: Projected to be arbitration-eligible in 2017 and is under team control through '20
Age: 24
2014 statistics: 18 GS, 8-6, 2.84 ERA, 98 1/3 IP, 94 K, 39 BB at Triple-A Rochester; 1 GS, 0-1, 12.46 ERA, 4 1/3 IP, 2 K, 9 BB with Twins
The skinny: May's Major League debut didn't go as planned against the A's on Saturday -- he walked seven batters in just two innings -- but he's still one of Minnesota's top pitching prospects. His walk rate has always been an issue, but he improved in that area at Triple-A. May is expected to get an extended look with the Twins this season, provided he can bounce back from his shaky debut.

Pitcher: RHP Pelfrey
Contract status: Signed through 2015 as part of two-year, $11 million deal
Age: 30
2014 statistics: 5 GS, 0-3, 7.99 ERA, 23 IP, 10 Ks, 18 BB
The skinny: Pelfrey's season has been a forgettable one, as he made five subpar outings before undergoing elbow surgery in June. He's not expected to return to action this season, and it's unclear what his role will be next year. Pelfrey will have to compete for a spot in the rotation after his injury and struggles over the past two years. There's a chance he could be headed to the bullpen.

Pitcher: RHP Berrios
Contract status: Not on 40-man roster
Age: 20
2014 statistics: 21 GS, 10-6, 2.40 ERA, 120 IP, 124 K, 30 BB between Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain
The skinny: Berrios has shot up Minnesota's prospect rankings list this season to No. 5 after another strong year in the Minor Leagues. Berrios, ranked as the No. 37 overall prospect by, is currently with New Britain, where he hasn't been as strong as he was with Fort Myers. He's not likely to make his debut early next season, but he remains on the radar and could get called up late in 2015.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger.

Minnesota Twins, Samuel Deduno, Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, Trevor May, Tommy Milone, Mike Pelfrey