Supplementing the Twins: Tyler Chatwood
Image courtesy of © Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY SportsAs explained last week, it’s become a relative pipe dream for the Twins to acquire a starter in the vein of Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta. Yes, baseball is an uncapped sport in which clubs can spend to their heart’s content. That said, TV contracts being what they are, Minnesota isn’t best positioned to fight for free agents like that. Identifying outliers that have significant upside is a much smarter play. As the organization continues internal turnover among scouts and front office types, the belief behind identifying the right pieces should only grow.
If we are to assume that Ervin Santana, Jose Berrios, and Kyle Gibson remain rotation locks for 2018, the final two spots could use a boost. While there are plenty of internal options to consider, the Twins wouldn’t be wrong to bring in some outside options. Lynn was the first on my list, and Chatwood checks in near the top as well.
A former 2nd round pick back in 2008, Chatwood will be 28 in 2018. He’s pitched in the Rockies organization since 2012, and has made 88 starts across 103 games in that timespan. Over his Rockies career, the numbers hardly jump off the page. He owned a 4.69 ERA in 2017, following up a 3.87 mark a season ago. The strikeout numbers are pedestrian, hovering right around 7.0 K/9, and he walks too many batters (4.0+ BB/9 over the past two years). So, those are the detractors, but there’s upside here too.
First off, Chatwood has velocity to his credit. Averaging a career best 95.3mph on his fastball in 2017, Chatwood has been right around a 94mph average for the entirety of his career. He throws a fastball, slider, sinker, and a curveball, while inducing a very good 58.1% ground ball rate. Hard contact is few and far between at just 23.5% the past season. Although Chatwood doesn’t induce a ton of swinging strikes (a career best 9.9% in 2017), he also gave up a career low 77.2% contact the past year.
I think the biggest draw to Chatwood going forward however, is simply getting him out of elevation. In 17 games during 2017 at Coors Field, Chatwood allowed an .884 OPS and posted a 6.01 ERA. On the road, he owned a 3.49 ERA and allowed just a .695 OPS. Over the course of his career, Chatwood has surrendered an .833 OPS across 254 innings at Coors Field. That results in an ugly 5.17 ERA. Given the sample size, there’s no stadium he’s been worse at save for his rookie year with the Angels.
Target Field is far from a pitcher’s paradise, and for a guy who’s posted three seasons with HR/0 marks over 1.0, he can still get bit with the Twins. That said the surface numbers aren’t indicative of the ability that could be there. Coming off what would be one of his worst seasons as a whole; Chatwood is going to have a tough time bargaining on the open market. That makes him a prime candidate for a team to exploit, and play the upside game.
As noted earlier, Minnesota isn’t going to be able to sustain success or grow this nucleus by handing out big money deals to a-list types. Derek Falvey was identified to lead the front office because of, in part, how he was able to identify talent that could be had within the Indians means. Tyler Chatwood doesn’t have to become the Twins version of Corey Kluber, but targeting upside that become more than rotational stopgaps is a must.
Through two players in the Supplementing the Twins series, we’ve got real names of pitchers that can help this organization. It’ll be interesting to see how they compare to the moves actually made. Check back next week for the next name on the list.
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