I feel compelled to update my thoughts on Minnesota's place in the AL North given the recent injury of Blake Robinson, who will spend the rest of the season on the bench after blowing out his elbow in a recent Spring Training game against Colorado Springs.
Robinson was sort of an interesting specimen; after failing to meet expectations in Syracuse's minor league system, he was shipped to rival Minnesota, where he struggled in his rookie season. But he turned it on in a big way last year, as he broke out with a 3.81 ERA in 182 innings at the age of 26. With the loss of Jonathan Grebeck, the PeaceFrog were undoubtedly hoping for Robinson to have a monster year and emerge as a key member of the rotation.
Robinson wasn't a make-or-break part of this team, but his absence will definitely plague an already hurting rotation. As it stands, it seems Minnesota's rotation will shape up to be Phil Shaw, Dan Shipley, Omar Siqueiros, William Busby, and Wesley Quinn. Only one of these pitchers (Siqueiros) is under age 32, and these 5 pitchers combined for a 4.30 ERA last season. Minnesota's still a great team, and they may still win around 95 games this year, but in this division, it's very difficult to leave them at 3rd in my predictions, so I am altering my AL North prediction: Milwaukee finishes 3rd (with a wild card berth) and Minnesota barely finishes fourth. Again, it's still anybody's division, but losing a pitcher like Robinson can only serve to hurt the PeaceFrog this season.