Who is the Twins' Ace?
Image courtesy of © Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY SportsJose Berrios
Berrios started the second game of the doubleheader over the weekend and his continued struggles have been well documented at this site. His velocity is up this season with his fastball averaging 94.5 mph in 2020 compared to 93.1 mph last year. But even with the increase in velocity, batters are posting a .414 BA and a .931 OPS when seeing his fastball. Over his last 71 1/3 innings dating back one year ago, Berrios has a 5.30 ERA with a 1.53 WHIP. This isn’t exactly what you want from a number one pitcher. He certainly has the make-up to be a top-tier starter, but the results haven’t been there.
Since joining the Twins, Maeda has been a breath of fresh air for the starting staff. One of the biggest changes he has made is relying on his off-speed offerings more heavily. Last season, he used his fastball 33.7% of the time and this year he is only using it 19.3% of the time. Batters have only posted a .196 WOBA against him and that ranks in the top-10% in the league. He doesn’t overpower batters, but his off-speed offerings make it tough to make hard contact as his hard hit % ranks in the 81st percentile among MLB pitchers. Every time he pitches, he puts the Twins in position to win and that’s what you want at the top of a team’s rotation.
Dobnak has been more than a feel-good story for the Twins over the last year and the results are getting hard to ignore. He doesn’t rank highly in any Statcast metric, but he goes out there and makes the other team get themselves in trouble.
His strategy is simple. Throw sinkers early in the count to get groundballs and his coaxed grounders in 2/3rds of his at-bats this season. Dobnak doesn’t have the characteristics of a typical ace. He doesn’t get strikeouts, he was never a top prospect, and he had to fight to make the team’s rotation. Now it’s hard to imagine where the Twins would be without him over the last two seasons.
Minnesota got off to a terrific start last season and Odorizzi’s performance went a long way in helping the team to their early success. He posted a 3.15 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP and 96 strikeouts in 88 2/3 inning as he was selected for his first All-Star team. He’ll hit the free agent market at season’s end, so it will be imperative for him to show his value in his remaining starts. Following a year with little revenue, teams aren’t going to be throwing around large contracts. Odorizzi still has something to pitch for this season and maybe that’s enough to get an ace level performance from him.
Hill came to Minnesota because he believes this team can win a World Series. Even as a 40-year old, Hill might be the team’s best starter and his playoff experience certainly helps to push that narrative forward. The Twins have a little over a month to keep Hill as healthy as possible so he can help the team for however long they are in the postseason. Like many of the names on this list, Hill doesn’t fit the traditional mold of an ace pitcher, but he still might be the arm the Twins turn to in Game 1 of the playoffs.
Who do you think is the Twins’ ace? Who would you have start Game 1 of the playoffs? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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