The Minnesota Twins made a lot of conspicuous moves last offseason; signing six-year free agent right-hander Samuel Deduno wasn't one of them. But even if Deduno's arrival didn't make the same splash as, say, signing left fielder Josh Willingham or catcher Ryan Doumit, it's becoming increasingly apparent that, perhaps, it was just as important.
Deduno, a 29-year-old rookie whose major league career consisted of a handful of relief innings with the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies, is starting to look like a legitimate big-league starter. On Monday, he held the Cleveland Indians hitless for 5 1/3 innings in a 7-2 Twins victory. Deduno wound up allowing three hits and two runs in seven innings, and he improved to 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA in 12 starts. Not bad for a guy who hadn't started a major league game until facing the Rangers on July 8.
He just keeps getting better, learning to corral what has been an unpredictable fastball while still throwing his slider and curveball for strikes -- at any time in any count. After walking 36 batters in his first eight starts, he has walked only seven in his past four. And in his past three starts, he's 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 20 innings.
The Twins have almost no idea of what their rotation will look like in 2013. Rookie Scott Diamond (11-6, 3.35 ERA) is a lock, but that's about it. Nick Blackburn is the only veteran starter signed for next season, but though he's owed $5.5 million for next year, he was taken off the 40-man roster in August.
Deduno is making a case for at least a long look next spring. When he walked off the mound after the seventh inning, a weary Deduno raised both arms in a brief moment of jubilation. He knew he wasn't coming back for the eighth after throwing 108 pitches.
"I was just thanking God for getting me through it," he said. "I knew I was done, but I felt good about the way I was throwing."
So do the Twins.