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Quietly Solid

2014 has been another frustrating season for the Minnesota Twins and their fans. Another 90 loss season is within reach. Late July and August has turned into a trade-your-veteran time yet again this year.

Yet among all of the misfortune and poor play, there have been several positives as well. In my opinion, Kyle Gibson fits into that category even though few are talking about him.
Image courtesy of Lance Iversen, USA Today
A 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.


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35 Comments

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mike wants wins
Aug 14 2014 12:41 PM

Always been a fan. Glad things are going well for him.

His HR/9 rate can only be partially explained by his good GB%.  He is also well under league average for HR/FB% which contributes to the lack of HR he is getting.  

 

I am mixed on Gibson.  I always hoped he could be a solid #2 and hoped his 8 or 9 K/9 rates from the minors would stick around.  As it is there is still value in a high contact sinkerball pitcher but as with our previous experience with Silva they can also go to hell pretty quickly.

I'd like to throw a word in for Eduardo Escobar, Danny Santana and Brian Dozier being in the 'quietly solid' bin.  Santana and Escobar will take a year to see what they can really do, but Dozier has shown that we can expect him to be solid without being accused of being overly optimistic.

 

And Plouffe has been in the upper third of MLB 3B pretty much all year in both offence and defense. 

 

Been a while since we had one of those.

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MileHighTwinsFan
Aug 14 2014 01:43 PM

You have to be optimistic about the future of the Twins staff.   Hughes and Gibson provide the foundation for a competitive rotation in 2015.   A strong finish from Nolasco will offer further stability going in to next year. Finally, having Milone, Meyer, May and Pelfrey competing for the last two spots next year provides multiple opportunities to come out of Ft. Meyers with a competitive rotation.

The starting staff gives me hope that these future Twins teams can develop in to a winning team. Right now the team has a bunch of players that have experienced a lot of losing and it has been 23 years since the Twins really last contended for a championship. Let's hope the developing players have not been tainted by the losing and can turn the corner.

 We have the makings of a competitive starting five with, Hughes, Gibson, Milone and hopefully Nolasco to build around in the rotation. They will have Pelfrey, Meyer and May all for competition next year along with some young guns entering up the pike in JO Berrios(futures game), Logan Darnell that have gotten a taste of the competition.

 

Joe Mauers absence showed how the offense really struggles when Joe is not in the line-up. Need the Arcias, Vargas, Dozier and the power potential guys to develop and continue hitting home runs with more rookies like Santanna and on base types filling in the gaps and developing in to winning players. Hopefully the days of plugging in aging decline phase veterans is nearing an end and this team can climb back in to contention next year. The last two years this team has lost a lot of 1 run and close baseball games, now the F.O. needs to find the right mix of players that can shove off this cloak of losing and develop in to a winning franchise again. Kind of whish we still had our old first basemen #33 back with Vargas at DH and Joe Mauer in left field(Joe is a good enough athlete to move to left and seems like he would be more comfortable out of the infield)  and then some of the prospects like Sano and hopefully Buxton arrive to help do some damage on the diamond. Oh well the starting rotation looks like it will finally improve to the point where there not plugging in AAAA type long men types K Johnson and Y Pino  and other teams cast offs. Building the starting staff is the beginning of a return to relevance for the Minnesota Twins.  Hopefully the 1996 to 2000 like losing days is nearing an end. Would be nice if they could push and finish near 500 this year to end the season.

They do not seem as far off this year as they have the last two years anyways.

I am hoping Trevor May can follow the suit. 

There is still 6 weeks to play this season. If the Twins were to go on a prolonged winning streak the Twins could finish at or near .500 for 2014. Pitching is the key.

Gibson and Hughes have been 2/3 of the Twins dependable starters in 2014. Now that Kevin Correia has been traded the rotation has 3 spots to fill.

Tommy Milone is a proven Major League starter and left handed. He should be a younger upgrade on Correia. 

Ricky Nolasco is a well established  major league starter and has a 4 year contract with the Twins.  It is hoped that he can regain his old form after a long stay on the disabled list

Johan Pino has made 10 starts for the Twins. In half of them he has held the opponents to 3 runs or less.  The rest of this season will tell us if he should be part of the 2015 rotation

That is 5 starters..  How will they pitch for 2014? How will they work together in 2015?

Trevor May has shown us nothing so far (like Gibson in 2013), but there is still 6 weeks to go in the season. 

Alex Meyer has pitched well in AAA although he was slowed down by an injury.  He is not on the 40 man roster and is not likely to be one of the September call-ups.

Mike Pelfrey showed promise to return from Tommy John surgery in July-August 2013.  He is said to be a positive influence in the dugout, however he has been in rehab for virtually all of 2014.  He has one year of his contract remaining.  Perhaps he could emerge as the 5th starter in 2015, or perhaps he will be a trade chip.

Any of the 3 of them could be in the 2015 rotation along with Logan Darnell or Kris Johnson or some other pitcher acquired in trades or promoted from the minors

At the end of 2011,2012 & 2013 we finished the season with NO starting pitchers that the Twins could count on.  2014 is playing much better and the "Quietly Solid" starters: Phil Hughes & Kyle Gibson are showing the way.

    • DocBauer likes this
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SpiritofVodkaDave
Aug 14 2014 04:32 PM
Gibsons biggest thing moving forward will be consistency, if he can limit his "bad starts" to less damaging types: 3-4 ER in 6 IP we could be looking at a number 2 type
    • stringer bell likes this
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TheLeviathan
Aug 14 2014 04:35 PM

Gibson has taken a really positive step forward.  If he continues this kind of pitching he's a real asset and probably better considered a #3 and a solid one at that.

Totally happy with Gibson and the way he has been pitching this season and the way he has been handling himself this season, especially as far as coming back after bad starts.

 

Even though ERA & WHIP are close, the comparison with Hughes just is not there.  Hughes has a 2.73 FIP and Gibson's is about a point higher.  BABIP is the culprit here:  Gibsons' is .273 & Hughes' .346.  

 

I think that Gibson has gained a no-questions asked spot in the 2015 rotation this season.

    • benchwarmerjim likes this
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drivlikejehu
Aug 14 2014 05:58 PM

Most players don't reach the full "upside" they had as amateurs/prospects. Considering the high risk inherent with pitching prospects and his TJ surgery, Gibson seems to be in a pretty good place right now.

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Don't Feed the Greed Guy
Aug 14 2014 06:17 PM

At the end of the day, the "W" is still the most telling statistic for starting pitchers. Here's a quick glimpse back to 2013's won-loss totals:

 

Correia      9-13

Pelfery       5-13

Diamond    6-13

Deduno       8-8

Hernandez  3-3 (12 GS; Albers, Gibson, Worley & Hendricks = 38 GS for a combined:  6-17)

 

Hughes (12-8) and Gibson (11-9) have seven or eight starts left in 2014. Both should finish the season with winning records--AND--could realistically total fifteen to eighteen victories.

 

That will be a dramatic improvement over 2013. Now, if three or four other starters (Milone, Nolasco, Pelfery, May, Meyer, etc...) can break even in 2015, with 9-11, 13-10, 12-12-type records, that would lay the foundation for an 85-77 season in 2015.

 

Sound realistic? Too optimistic?

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TheLeviathan
Aug 14 2014 06:28 PM

 

Sound realistic? Too optimistic?

 

You lost me at "W" is the most telling statistic.  Sorry.

    • Thrylos, mike wants wins, Oxtung and 2 others like this
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Brock Beauchamp
Aug 14 2014 06:37 PM

At the end of the day, the "W" is still the most telling statistic for starting pitchers. 

 

It's really not... at all. There have been studies done that show any number of stats more closely relate to pitcher success than W-L. K/9 is a better indicator, for one.

    • Beezer07 likes this
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SpiritofVodkaDave
Aug 14 2014 06:45 PM

At the end of the day, the "W" is still the most telling statistic for starting pitchers. Here's a quick glimpse back to 2013's won-loss totals:

Correia 9-13
Pelfery 5-13
Diamond 6-13
Deduno 8-8
Hernandez 3-3 (12 GS; Albers, Gibson, Worley & Hendricks = 38 GS for a combined: 6-17)

Hughes (12-8) and Gibson (11-9) have seven or eight starts left in 2014. Both should finish the season with winning records--AND--could realistically total fifteen to eighteen victories.

That will be a dramatic improvement over 2013. Now, if three or four other starters (Milone, Nolasco, Pelfery, May, Meyer, etc...) can break even in 2015, with 9-11, 13-10, 12-12-type records, that would lay the foundation for an 85-77 season in 2015.

Sound realistic? Too optimistic?


Nope

Last time I checked, you play to WIN the game, not K as many people per 9 as possible!!!!11!!1!!!!!!!11!1!

    • Don't Feed the Greed Guy likes this

Sure, but a Win is a team stat, not an individual stat. 

The starting pitching has only so much control over getting the win. 

When evaluating individual players, its better to focus on things that they have more control over. 

    • mike wants wins and Sconnie like this
Gibson could throw 32 8 inning shutouts in a season, and still lose all 32 games. Should 0-32 be held against him? Does that make him a terrible pitcher?

Regardless, it's good to see the incremental improvement, and I look forward to watching him pitch for the Twins in 2015
    • mike wants wins likes this
I think wins is a telling stat. It indicates a SP simply pitching well enough for his team to have a chance to win. Yes, it is still a team sport, and defense, runs scored, and a bullpen holding leads are all factors. So to me wins definitely don't tell the whole story. Witness King Felix a couple years ago for Seattle. He was clearly the best, most dominate SP in the league even though his win total was small. Wins don't tell the whole story to be sure. But they DO indicate your pitcher threw well enough to get the win. I'm very pleased with Gibson this season. And other than a few Jeckyl/Hyde performances, could you really expect more in his first full season? I know all pitchers would have inflated statistics if you threw out their poor games, but didn't someone post an interesting stat recently that showed Gibson's numbers were greatly influenced, to the negative, from only a handful of bad starts? Wish I could recall that post. I know this is highly debated, but I feel the Twins handled Gibson perfectly. While showing real signs last season in Rochester, he also showed inconsistencies that gave them pause to promote him. When they did, we didn't see anything special. But I really think the ML experience he received went a long way toward getting him prepared for 2014. And while we could engage again in another huge debate, I still see strong parallels to Meyer this season and Gibson last season. He has to be added to the 40 man, no choice about it. Therefore, I still hope he will get at least some ML time before the year is done to give him similar experience to build for 2015.
Gibson is absolutely part of the 2015 rotation. And there is room to improve. We still haven't seen the best of Mr Gibson. Then you pencil in Hughes as well. And as well as he's pitched, I also wonder if we've yet to see his full potential as well. Thus far, there is nothing to indicate Nolasco is headed down either the dreaded "bust" or "TJ" roads. It would appear he is a young 30yo veteran who simply suffered a bad and disappointing season due to minor injury he tried to play through, manifested all the more being his first year on a new contract with a new team. I like this first 3. Milone might not be anything special, but appears to be a very solid option. A long term future with the Twins might not be in the cards. But, he seems to be a very solid LHSP who has put up pretty solid numbers thus far. His first start was solid as well. It would seem we have a solid guy here, and a really nice pickup from Ryan. Pelfrey? I don't know. He wasn't my first choice to sign. (It was Kazmir. And Kazmir before 2013 as well) But if finally healthy and ready, he could provide a solid fill in or temp SP. I still can't forget that he actually looked pretty good in '13 before tiring. He's not an answer, but again, he might fill a role. No question May and Meyer are the future, and hopefully the future is 2015 if not now. But how great is it to look at that list of 7 SP candidates for 2015 instead of trying to sort through some of the AAAA fodder we've had to work with and wade through the past few seasons? And before 2015 is over and done, we may see Berrios, Gilmartin, And possibly Darnell and Duffy as options?
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TheLeviathan
Aug 14 2014 08:38 PM

I think wins is a telling stat. It indicates a SP simply pitching well enough for his team to have a chance to win. 

 

And that's all it indicates.  The factors that determine whether it was "well enough" combine a whole host of factors well beyond that player's control.

 

No one is saying it's useless, just far from the go-to.  (Far, FAR from it)

Well, surely we can all at least agree that Bartolo Colon deserved the Cy Young over Johan in 2005, right?
    • mike wants wins, Oxtung and Sconnie like this

Gibson could throw 32 8 inning shutouts in a season, and still lose all 32 games. Should 0-32 be held against him? Does that make him a terrible pitcher?

Regardless, it's good to see the incremental improvement, and I look forward to watching him pitch for the Twins in 2015


32 8 inning shutouts would at worst result in a 0-0 record but I would love to see Gibson test your theory. I am guessing he would be about 30-0. I don't think W-L record is the most meaningful stat but I don't think it is meaningless either. Yes, baseball is a team game. No one believes that more than me but at the same time there is a reason they attached that stat to pitchers in the first place. It is way more meaningful than W-L records of managers IMO. Pitchers simply have more effect on a game than any other player. At the end of the day did you hold the other team to fewer runs than the other guy did given the conditions of the day. Over time if you had a great ERA, SO/9, quality starts, WHIP, etc it will be reflected in your record and vice versa. Of course there are outfliers to every stat. Liriano's best SO/9 since 2006 he was 3-10 with a 5.34 ERA. Maddux and Buehrle had poor SO/9 but excellent SO/BB which is the stat I prefer but there are anomalies there as well. People say there are times when you just need a strikeout and I will respond by saying a ground ball to 3rd or the pitcher is almost always better if there are guys on base. I look at most stats but the ones I look at most are still ERA and quality start %. Others will have favorite categories but they are mostly all interrelated.

In today's baseball, the Quality Start (QS) is the most telling start.  Hughes, Gibson & Correia all had 13 QS in 23 starts.  These QS give the Twins a chance to win, and their improving hitting is getting to the point where they do win when getting the opportunity.

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Brock Beauchamp
Aug 14 2014 09:31 PM

Well, surely we can all at least agree that Bartolo Colon deserved the Cy Young over Johan in 2005, right?

Obviously. I mean, who can argue that?

Grrrrrr...