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Five Pitcher And Catcher Headlines

Twins pitchers and catchers report at the beginning of this week. With the Twins coming off the worst record in franchise history, there are plenty of decisions that need to be settled this spring.

Here are five pitcher and catcher headlines to watch this spring:
Image courtesy of Jonathan Dyer, USA Today Sports
Can Castro Make An Immediate Impact?
Minnesota's biggest off-season move was signing catcher Jason Castro after parting ways with Kurt Suzuki. Castro comes to the Twins with a reputation for being a strong defensive catcher. Minnesota's pitching was lackluster in 2016 and the new front office hopes Castro can make an immediate impact on the staff. Castro will get his first chance to work with Twins pitchers this spring. It might take a good chunk of the season to notice the "Castro Effect" but a shift should start in the weeks ahead.

May Moves Back To Starting
Even before the new regime took over, it sounded like May would be moving back into a starting role. This plan became even more evident at TwinsFest as the new front office and May talked about the transition back into the rotation. When the Twins were in the 2015 wild card race, May pitched very well in relief. So well in fact, that the club left him there for 2016 as he dealt with an injury plagued season. Minnesota hopes that normal days off between starts will keep May healthy and help him to earn a starting spot for years to come.

Hughes And Perkins Coming Back From Injury
Phil Hughes and Glen Perkins were two of the most important pitchers on the 2015 squad. Perkins made his third straight All-Star Game and Hughes led a rotation that was in the playoff hunt until the season's final weekend. Hughes has been throwing bullpens and the hope is he enters spring training with no limitations. Perkins has all ready experienced renewed discomfort in his throwing shoulder. With a set-back, it's likely that Perkins won't be ready for the season to start. Brandon Kintzler should open the year as the team's closer.

Berrios Back To the Minors
Minnesota's starting rotation looks crowded as the team heads to Fort Myers. Ervin Santana and Kyle Gibson might be the only locks as camp opens. If the aforementioned Hughes is healthy, he would be the third rotation member. This leaves two spots for the likes of Hector Santiago, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, and Jose Berrios. Berrios has been dominant in his time in the minors and it seems likely for him to start the year in Rochester. This leaves him one injury away from making it back to the big leagues where he will hopefully find more success.

Crowded Bullpen
Because of some poor starting pitching over the last couple of years, Minnesota's bullpen has been taxed. This leaves an opportunity for a few new faces to earn their place. Brandon Kintzler should enter the year as the team's closer. If May shifts back to starting, there will be a lot of open spots to fill. The Twins just signed Matt Belisle to join returning arms like J.T. Chargois, Buddy Boshers, Ryan O'Rourke, Ryan Pressly, Adalberto Mejia, Taylor Rogers and Michael Tonkin. There isn't going to be room for all of these arms so the weeks ahead will decide who fills each role for the club.

What pitcher and catcher headlines will you follow in the weeks ahead? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.


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25 Comments

Typo on the 2010 wild card race for May.
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theBOMisthebomb
Feb 12 2017 09:00 PM
The search for a full-time closer as I don't feel Kintzler is the long term answer and Perk's career is essentially done.
    • glunn, Sconnie, tarheeltwinsfan and 2 others like this

You have Adalberto Mejia as an option in the bullpen.

I believe they want to see if he can be a starter,.

 

We'll see.

    • scottz and tarheeltwinsfan like this
Catcher: I am absolutely excited to see what he does with the staff, but as the article alludes to, it make time to see his affect. He not only has to learn the pitchers, but they have to learn him. His experience, habit's, communicstion, game planning and management, framing, etc, could all be outstanding. But there are not necessarily stats for these areas.

Really excited to see what Garver can do when he gets his shot. I really hoped it's right out of the gate, giving Castro the necessary days off, as well as platooning against LHP. If the team decides he should play daily initially at Rochester,mi won't be too upset, but I may even a bit disappointed.

Rotation: There could, indeed, be a roster crunch initially, depending on Hughes, and to a lesser degree, Duffey, and even Haley. I've seen enough of Duffey to not give up on him as a SP, but he may still fit better now, as well as long term, in the pen. Haley could surprise, and I'm betting the TWINS work out something to keep him in the organization regardless. For now, I'm actually thinking he and Duffey both in the pen.

Hughes is big wildcard for this team. Whether it's immediately, a month or so in to the season, or for the second half, a fully healthy Hughes even close to his 2014 self is HUGE. Could it happen? I don't know. Nobody does. He could be anything from a high quality starter, to a closer, a setup man, or nothing. My best guess is he doesn't begin the season on the active roster, taking some time to ramp up, and the rotation is Santana, Gibson, Santiago, May and Berrios. If, by some chance, Hughes IS ready from day one in the rotation, I'd sure hate to see May or Berrios lose out.

Bullpen: Kintzler, Belize, Pressly, Chargois and Rogers are almost all written in pen. Very possibly Duffey and Haley as well. That leaves Bristow, Boshers and O'Rourke fighting for the second LH spot, or, room for Hughes, (doubtful) or a surprise riser.

No room for Hildenberger, Reed, etc? That's OK. I'm fine with that. Rochester's bullpen should be loaded, and this roster will be in flux all season.
    • glunn and tarheeltwinsfan like this

Competition is good.Do not know why all you people think Gibson is a lock.I feel Santana and Santiago are locks, rest are open.Expect Gibson to win a spot, but the rest depends on Hughes health and the progress of the young kids.Think Haley will make the team in the long role, unless it is felt necessary to start Hughers there. 

This does not look much better than last year, depressing.

    • Sconnie likes this

 

Competition is good.Do not know why all you people think Gibson is a lock.I feel Santana and Santiago are locks, rest are open.Expect Gibson to win a spot, but the rest depends on Hughes health and the progress of the young kids.Think Haley will make the team in the long role, unless it is felt necessary to start Hughers there. 

This does not look much better than last year, depressing.

 

I agree that Gibson should not be a lock. I also think he and Santiago are almost the same pitcher. Santiago is a little younger and has had more success, but neither is setting MLB pitching stats on fire.

 

I suspect both to be on a short leash early on. Issues with either could result in a trip to the bullpen as they see what Mejia, Duffey or whoever else doesn't make the initial starting rotation has to offer.

    • Taildragger8791 and Vanimal46 like this
I also agree that Gibson "should" not be a lock. But I think in the eyes of the organization, he absolutely is a lock.

No surprises in your headlines, also nothing to get excited about.  I still believe in Berrios and think it better to stick with him and work out tipping his pitches, getting to excited or whatever and let him learn at MLB.  Nothing, no one else on this list has his potential.  

 

 With the Twins coming off the worst record in franchise history, 

 

I saw this actually written by professional journalists as well, and it is absolutely wrong.

 

The worst record in the Franchise history was in in 1904, 38-113 (.252), second worst in 1909, 42-110 (.276), 3rd in 1903, 43-94 (.314), 4th in 1907, 49-102 (.325) & 1949, 50-104 (.325), 6th in 1955, 53-101 (.344), 7th in 1957, 55-99 (.357), and only 8th worst in 2016, 59-103 (.364)

 

Last season was the worst record for the franchise, after its move to Minnesota.  This is a founding franchise for the AL and not a franchise just born in the 60s...  Lots of history here that should not be ignored...

    • gil4, Dantes929 and tarheeltwinsfan like this

Castro doesn't interest me as how the battle for the right hand side of what is hopefully a platoon ends up. I'm going to be very disappointed if Gimenez is on the opening day 25. I hope it's JRM's position to lose - he's got some upside and this is his shot. Gimenez is a nice backup-backup (with Garver as a Castro-backup so he gets PT) but it will be thoroughly dreadful if he isn't in AAA to start the season.

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FormerMinnasotan
Feb 13 2017 10:58 AM
Honestly I am all but certain Berrios is going to the minors. But I still think it is stupid to put him there for again after he pitched there (AAA) in 2015 & 2016. He's not going to be challenged by AAA hitters, plus there is next to nothing he can "learn" in AAA that will spell success in the Bigs. Perhaps he needs to pitch in the bullpen a bit so he can better acclimate with Big league hitters. Flop him for Trevor May if you want May to be in the rotation. Look both Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano started in the bullpen and transitioned to the rotation I don't see why the Twins don't do that instead of shipping him somewhere he will outright dominate.

 

Honestly I am all but certain Berrios is going to the minors. But I still think it is stupid to put him there for again after he pitched there (AAA) in 2015 & 2016. He's not going to be challenged by AAA hitters, plus there is next to nothing he can "learn" in AAA that will spell success in the Bigs.

 

Here is the problem I have with Berrios (and with Santiago to a lesser extend) :  He knew that he was in the bubble as far as a rotation spot went and he decided to forego a month of Spring Training to pitch for Puerto Rico, instead of fighting for that spot.  This says a lot about priorities and I would hate to see the Twins rewarding player(s) who made Puerto Rico a higher priority than the Twins after an 103 L season. At this point I think that he got himself behind May, Vogelsong and even Mejia in the depth chart, and it is all his doing...

    • goulik likes this
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FormerMinnasotan
Feb 13 2017 11:16 AM

Here is the problem I have with Berrios (and with Santiago to a lesser extend) : He knew that he was in the bubble as far as a rotation spot went and he decided to forego a month of Spring Training to pitch for Puerto Rico, instead of fighting for that spot. This says a lot about priorities and I would hate to see the Twins rewarding player(s) who made Puerto Rico a higher priority than the Twins after an 103 L season. At this point I think that he got himself behind May, Vogelsong and even Mejia in the depth chart, and it is all his doing...

I get it. But at the same time once he goes to Rochester and goes 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA, 0.88 WHIP 11.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in his first 4 starts and May or who ever else is struggling and the Twins are just as bad as last year would the decision to keep Berrios down in AAA look to be a good one? Especially if what Berrios needs is more 1 on 1 time with the Twins MLB staff?

 

I get it. But at the same time once he goes to Rochester and goes 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA, 0.88 WHIP 11.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in his first 4 starts and May or who ever else is struggling and the Twins are just as bad as last year would the decision to keep Berrios down in AAA look to be a good one? Especially if what Berrios needs is more 1 on 1 time with the Twins MLB staff?

 

He.Made.His.Own.Bed.

 

What Berrios needs is to improve the command of his fastball and to throw strikes.  He had 8.3 BB% in AAA, and 12.5 in the majors.  He needs to drop that down to 5% before he comes up

 

I also agree that Gibson "should" not be a lock. But I think in the eyes of the organization, he absolutely is a lock.

I think you are talking about last years organization and I for one am a lot less certain this is true with this years organization.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

 

He.Made.His.Own.Bed.

 

What Berrios needs is to improve the command of his fastball and to throw strikes.  He had 8.3 BB% in AAA, and 12.5 in the majors.  He needs to drop that down to 5% before he comes up

 

If by 'drop that down to 5%' you mean that you expect it to jump 50% again when he comes up, I can appreciate that goal. I'm sure I do not need to tell you, Thrylos, that only 6 starting pitchers had a 5% or lower BB% in 2016.

 

Your point is certainly valid. No SP with 160+ innings in MLB had a 12% BB rate. I also think, though, that if someone (limited number of people) coaches him well he can put up near the walk rates he was putting up in AAA.

 

And yes, that coach is probably not on the Puerto Rico coaching staff.

If he is we should hire him.

    • goulik and Vanimal46 like this

 

Here is the problem I have with Berrios (and with Santiago to a lesser extend) :  He knew that he was in the bubble as far as a rotation spot went and he decided to forego a month of Spring Training to pitch for Puerto Rico, instead of fighting for that spot.  This says a lot about priorities and I would hate to see the Twins rewarding player(s) who made Puerto Rico a higher priority than the Twins after an 103 L season. At this point I think that he got himself behind May, Vogelsong and even Mejia in the depth chart, and it is all his doing...

Would pitching great for Puerto Rico sway your opinion at all? I assume he has the blessing of the Twins.  Personally, I don't think ST is for fighting for a spot.  If he comes in with great mechanics and command, he is in.  If not, out.

 

Would pitching great for Puerto Rico sway your opinion at all? I assume he has the blessing of the Twins.  Personally, I don't think ST is for fighting for a spot.  If he comes in with great mechanics and command, he is in.  If not, out.

 

-Pitching great for Puerto Rico against AA/AAA opposition will mean nothing

 

-Unfortunately, the Twins' hands are tied behind their back as far as allowing their players to play in the WBC.It is political.MLB needs some serious rules about not allowing anyone who is on a 40-man roster to participate in the WBC. 

 

- ST is for getting stretched and win a spot when there are several others who also have interest in that spot.May and Vogelsong as a matter of fact have more reasons to be handed a spot than Berrios...

 

 

 I'm sure I do not need to tell you, Thrylos, that only 6 starting pitchers had a 5% or lower BB% in 2016.

 

in AAA?Um No.

 

The International League had 14 SP with 70+ IP with <5% BB% and 27 with <6% and the Pacific Coast League had 10 with < 5% and 21 with 6% and under.

 

Hopefully that 5% in AAA would translate to an 8% in the majors

 

 

BTW 13 starters with 100+ IP had <5 BB% in the majors, 39 had6% or less and 85 8% or less.Data here. Not sure where you got your numbers....

 

 

 

in AAA?Um No.

 

The International League had 14 SP with 70+ IP with <5% BB% and 27 with <6% and the Pacific Coast League had 10 with < 5% and 21 with 6% and under.

 

Hopefully that 5% in AAA would translate to an 8% in the majors

 

 

BTW 13 starters with 100+ IP had <5 BB% in the majors, 39 had6% or less and 85 8% or less.Data here. Not sure where you got your numbers....

I'm sure your numbers are all correct based on 100 innings.

I was looking at qualified starters, which I think is like 160 innings.

It's a custom table at FanGraphs, but maybe the link will work.

Here

 

I'm sure your numbers are all correct based on 100 innings.

I was looking at qualified starters, which I think is like 160 innings.

It's a custom table at FanGraphs, but maybe the link will work.

Here

 

 

I used lower innings because of injuries etc.Also in AAA, if a pitcher is pitching 70 innings (my cutoff) well, chances are that he will get promoted, so you don't want to penalize the good ones...

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

 

...

 

Hopefully that 5% in AAA would translate to an 8% in the majors

 

A few >3.0 WAR pitchers in that ~8% crowd

Go Berrios!

Has there even been a whisper that Santiago won't be in the rotation?

 

Has there even been a whisper that Santiago won't be in the rotation?

 

I really believe that he and Gibson are on thin ice. Either is susceptible to having their Starting Pitcher card pulled. We need more than they have shown recently. 

 

I mean, sure we'd take Gibson's 2015 or Santiago's 2015, 2013 (better) or 2012 (best!), but neither are showing all that much from last year. Rebound after a single off year for Gibson? Or two years from Santiago? I hope they rebound and do well.

 

We could use all the help we can get.

    • Thrylos likes this

 

 

 

 

I mean, sure we'd take Gibson's 2015 or Santiago's 2015, 2013 (better) or 2012 (best!), but neither are showing all that much from last year. Rebound after a single off year for Gibson? Or two years from Santiago? I hope they rebound and do well.

 

Santiago was mostly a reliever in 2012 with the WSux (42 G, 4 GS), then mostly a starter in 2013 (34 G, 23 GS) and 2014 (30 G, 24 GS).  He is a swingman.  Swarzak material. As a matter of fact, if you ignore his ERA and look at his FIP,  He has been pretty consistent.  His career FIP is 4.73 and has been +/- .60 all his career. FWIW, Swarzak's career FIP is 4.30, as a comparison point.  

 

Gibson was off (and hurt) last season, but pretty consistent the previous 2 seasons (3.80 & 3.96 FIP).  I'd take that and 180+ IP from him. Solid number 4 type.


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