3 Promising Stats from the Twins Top 3 Returning Starters
Image courtesy of David Berding and Bruce Kluckhohn, USA TodayKenta Maeda led the Twins in innings with 66 ⅔, but issued only 10 walks with zero hit-by-pitches and zero wild pitches.
Maeda's control was fairly mediocre over the past two seasons in Los Angeles (3.0 BB/9), and worse as a starter than as a reliever, which might've been among reasons the Dodgers were open to moving on.
The right-hander turned a corner in 2020, joining the league's elite with a 1.35 BB/9 rate that ranked fourth among all MLB starters. Maeda chopped his baseline BB percentage in half, going from 8.1% in 2018 and 8.2% in 2019 to 4.0% in his first year with the Twins. He walked one or zero batters in nine of his 11 regular-season starts, and held opponents to a ridiculous .202 on-base percentage overall.
Over the course of his career he hasn't been especially prone to HBPs (one every 27 innings) or wild pitches (one every 39 innings) but we've seen neither from him in a Twins uniform. Maeda was executing on the hill from start to finish in 2020.
Opponents batted .167 and slugged .231 against José Berríos' curveball.
The curve has always been crucial to Berríos' arsenal, and now more than ever. This season was the first time he threw it more than any other pitch, and his results with it were better than ever.
In 84 plate appearances ending in a curveball this year, Berríos allowed only two doubles and one home run. His curve produced the lowest wOBA (.205) and second-lowest average exit velocity (84.0 MPH) of any pitch during any season in his career. It also produced the highest putaway rate (26.9%), meaning he was able to complete a strikeout more than one out of every four times he threw the pitch with two strikes.
In the past, Berríos' curveball has generally been quite effective but he's been susceptible to hanging it here and there. He gave up 10 home runs on curveballs in each of the past two years. The 2020 season saw him executing the offering better than ever before, and that's an excellent sign heading into his age 27 season.
(The flip side is that Berríos' fastball was far worse than it's ever been – opponents batted .345 and slugged .709 against the righty's four-seamer. Fixing that will be a clear priority for him in 2021.)
Michael Pineda allowed zero home runs in 26 ⅔ over five starts.
Prior to joining the Minnesota Twins, Pineda was one of the most homer-prone starting pitchers in baseball. From 2015 through 2017, his 1.4 HR/9 rate ranked 12th-highest among qualified starters. He posted the same mark in his first year as a Twin, surrendering 23 long balls across 26 starts in 2019.
However, it bears noting that 14 of those home runs came in his first 10 starts. During his final 16 turns last year, Pineda gave up only nine homers, and in his five starts in 2020, he didn't give up a single one.
It appears that Pineda has managed to mitigate his biggest weakness. And when he's keeping the ball in the yard, he's a tremendously effective pitcher. In those past 21 starts where he has allowed only nine home runs, he has a 3.23 ERA and 9-2 record. The Twins have gone 16-5 in those games.
With Pineda under contract for one more season at a highly reasonable $10 million, the Twins can feel confident taking the field behind him, as well as the other two members of this outstanding rotation-fronting trio.
Whatever moves Minnesota makes to improve the starting pitching corps this winter, they'll be building upon a clear strength.
MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
- ToddlerHarmon likes this