Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/21/12
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Through most of Ron Gardenhire's tenure as manager, the Minnesota Twins have won with a consistent set of starting pitchers who have been remarkably good at avoiding injuries. The Twins have used 10 or more starting pitchers in a season just twice since 2002, and in both of those seasons -- 2006 and 2009 -- they gave a handful of starts to September call-ups.

This season, though, has been like little else the Twins have experienced since Gardenhire succeeded Tom Kelly.

Scott Baker, who was supposed to start the home opener, is out for the season after having Tommy John surgery.

Carl Pavano, who started on Opening Day, is working with a soft tissue specialist to overcome a sore shoulder.

Nick Blackburn is on the disabled list with a strained left quadriceps.

Francisco Liriano's confidence is so low that the Twins moved him to the bullpen to try to straighten him out after an erratic start to the season.

And Jason Marquis, who was signed to a one-year, $3 million deal in December to bring some stability to the rotation, has fared that his spot in the rotation -- and on the roster -- was in jeopardy.

It's all helped the door to the Twins' rotation revolve like never before in Gardenhire's time as manager. Minnesota has already used eight different starters in the first 41 games of the season, and it could introduce a ninth later in the week as a replacement for Marquis. Pitching coach Rick Anderson, who has been with Gardenhire the entire time, said in a St. Paul Pioneer Press story that this year has already been his toughest with the team.

"Hopefully we can get some kind of thing going," Anderson said. "The No. 1 thing is health."

Where the Twins will get consistency in their rotation remains to be seen, though. Their two best pitchers have been left-hander Scott Diamond and right-hander P.J. Walters, who have made three and two starts, respectively, in the majors after being called up from Triple-A Rochester. Liam Hendriks has pitched well at Rochester after struggling in three major league starts to begin the year, and Cole DeVries had several impressive starts in Triple-A, as well.

However, the Twins could have four starting pitchers from Rochester in their rotation by the end of the week, with Blackburn on the DL and Marquis possibly on his way out. The organization's best prospect, Kyle Gibson, is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery, and 2010 first-rounder Alex Wimmers is also out with an elbow injury.

Those two injuries have made the Twins' long-term outlook even muddier. Pavano and Liriano are both free agents after the year, and it seems unlikely the team will pick up its $9.25 million option for 2013 on Baker, considering the rehab he is facing.

The Twins won six AL Central championships from 2002-10 with strong pitching and defense, but they've got the worst record in the majors, and their rotation's ERA is the worst in baseball by more than a full run. It's been a long time since things have been this unsettled in Minnesota.

"Everything starts with starting pitching," general manager Terry Ryan said. "When you've got starting pitching, you've got a chance every night. And unfortunately, we've struggled."

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