The last time the Twins started a season 5-1 was 2010, which also happens to be the last time they made the playoffs. That’ll happen when your team leads the majors with a 2.04 ERA. And that in turn will happen when your pitchers strand baserunners at a higher rate than any other AL team and a pace that has basically no chance of lasting much longer.
Still, this Minnesota team is going to be a lot better than the 2016 edition, one that overcorrected for a fortunate '15 season of hit-clustering by losing 103 games, the most in baseball. While the common refrain among rebuilding teams is to not bother building a strong bullpen, new GM Thad Levine and his staff took some steps to avoid duplicating last year’s misery.
Underrated veteran righthander Matt Belisle looked dominant in his first three appearances as a Twin (before walking two and allowing his first run of the season Sunday in a 4-1 win against the the White Sox). Keep an eye on rookie lefty Taylor Rogers too. As a lightly regarded prospect, Rogers smoked lefthanded hitters. Problem was, he spent much of his minor league career as a starter, meaning he still had to contend with righthanded hitters the vast majority of the time. Slotted into a bullpen role this year with the big club, don’t be surprised if Rogers quietly becomes one of the more effective lefty specialists in the league.