Berrios In Line for a 2020 Cy?
Image courtesy of © David Richard-USA TODAY SportsBerrios will turn 26 during the 2020 season, and he’s now played two full seasons in the big leagues. He finished 2019 with a 3.68 ERA and 8.8 K/9. Those numbers include a truly dismal six start stretch from August into September in which he posted an 8.07 ERA and allowed a .971 OPS to opposing batters. Going into that stretch he owned a 2.80 ERA and looked like he was cruising. Much was made of his decreased velocity and declining stamina, something the Twins made a concerted effort to address this offseason.
Recently Dan Hayes of The Athletic wrote about Berrios’ offseason and the ways in which he hopes it helps to alter his 2020. Recovery was a big focus for the Puerto Rican this winter and figuring out how to sustain his performance throughout the whole season was a must. Utilizing everyone from pitching coach Wes Johnson to trainer Ian Kadish, there was an overhaul of his offseason regimen. Berrios is known as a workout warrior, and he didn’t give up that title, but modifications in hopes of avoiding that August slide made sense.
Right now, oddsmaker Bovada has the Twins ace at 18/1 to win the American League Cy Young. That is 12th best among those listed and behind names like Mike Clevinger and Corey Kluber. A year ago, Berrios finished 7th in terms of fWAR in the American League. His 4.4 fWAR was a career best, and a nice leap from the 3.1 fWAR tallied in the year prior.
After Steamer projections saw a step backwards for Berrios last year, both Steamer and ZiPS concur on that point in 2020. Projecting a 4.48 and 4.17 ERA respectively, he’d be well off the 3.68 mark of 2019 and well out of any conversation for a Cy Young Award. ZiPS does see an uptick in terms of K/9, generating 9.14 in 2020. It would seem odd that Berrios regress during his age-26 season, a period in which his prime should be considered. However, despite a 3.85 FIP last year, he had a gaudier 4.32 xFIP.
I wrote up this exact same type of piece a year ago and ended it by saying, “I don’t know if I’m ready to get on board with Berrios winning a Cy Young just yet, but 2019 could certainly provide a strong foundation as the point looked backed upon that everything just clicked.” I feel like that’s where we are now and have a jumping point to watch this coming to fruition. Being deemed the best pitcher in the league is quite a significant feat, but he’s hovered around that conversation for a while now.
We won’t know what dividends the offseason routine changes make until regular action gets underway. With Johnson and Kadish’s oversight though, he was positioned about as well as Minnesota could hope. Removing that six start stretch from the 2019 numbers would’ve provided Berrios the first votes of his career. I’d bet on them coming in 2020, and how many really is the only thing left up for debate.
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