Image courtesy of Lance Iversen, USA TodayA year ago at this time, Kyle Gibson was really struggling and was about to be shut down due to an innings limit in his return from Tommy John. He made ten starts for the Twins and went 2-4 with a 6.53 ERA and a 1.75 WHIP. It was clear that some fans were shaking their heads and wondering what all the hype was about.
The Twins signed Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey to multi-year contracts this offseason. Kevin Correia was the team's top starter in 2013, so there were four starting spots already accounted for.
At Twins Fest, Kyle Gibson said, "I'm glad there's still one spot that I can compete for!"
Then came this spring when he appeared to be the odd man out coming into camp, fighting an uphill battle against Sam Deduno, Vance Worley and Scott Diamond, who were all out of options. However, he pitched well and won the job out of spring training.
He has certainly experienced ups and downs this first full season in the big leagues. We have seen that when he is on, he's on. When he has lost, he has pitched very poorly.
However, overall, he is now 11-9 with a 3.96 ERA, which is essentially league average. His WHIP is at 1.23. Some will focus on the 5.0 strikeouts per nine innings. You can also choose to look at the 2.6 BB/9 or the 0.5 HR/9 rates. That he isn't giving up home runs often makes sense since he gets ground balls about 54% of the time.
He is likely in line for about eight more starts this season. If he can average six innings per start, he will end the year with over 180 innings.
Phil Hughes certainly grabbed a lot of headlines in May and early June when he was walking no one and finding good success. On the season, he is 12-8 with a 3.88 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP.
That may be where the comparisons end (Hughes is a fly ball pitcher who does record some more strikeouts), the end results to this point of the year have been very similar.
While Hughes has earned the accolades he's received through the season, Kyle Gibson has quietly become a guy that the Twins (and us fans) can count on. If nothing else, his first full season is certainly a strong base to build upon.