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Charley Walters: Twins-Saints partnership talks quietly o...

Twins Minor League Talk 13 Jul 2020
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7 Weird Stats About Jose Berrios’ Season

Coming into the 2019 Major League Baseball season Jose Berrios found himself entrenched in the Minnesota Twins rotation as the staff ace. Betting sites had tabbed him with something like a 25/1 chance to win the American League Cy Young Award, and the overall strength of Rocco Baldelli’s staff was expected to rely on the anchor that is a six-foot, always smiling Puerto Rican.
Image courtesy of © Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
This season has been the best yet for Berrios in the big leagues. He was named to his second straight All-Star Game (despite some unnecessary finagling) and has posted strong tallies across the board. What he hasn’t done though, is maintain a consistent level of dominance required to take that next step and claim the title of “ace,” coveted by many and held by few.

Viewing the year in small snapshots provides plenty of interesting talking points. Here are a few of the interesting outliers already in the books.

1. Better but Maybe Worse

Through 25 starts Berrios has posted a 3.37 ERA which is a career low by nearly 0.5 runs. Beyond the surface though, we find a 3.92 FIP (in line with the 3.90 2018 mark) and a bit gaudier 4.43 xFIP (compared to 3.89 in 2018). In terms of regression, we could see more before the dust settles. The 8.4 H/9 is a full-season career worst, and the HR/9 has risen after giving up 7 in his past eight starts. The long ball is harder to control in 2019 than ever before, and for a guy with a short stature the downward plane on each pitch is less advantageous.

2. Oh Whiff Have You Forsaken Me

Last season Berrios reached the 200-strikeout mark for the first time in his career. Pitching 192.1 innings he tallied a K/9 of 9.5. Owning a minor league career 9.6 K/9, something above 9.0 at the big leagues would be a great outcome for who has always expected to be a strikeout pitcher. In 157.2 IP this season, Berrios has just 150 strikeouts which breaks down to an 8.6 K/9. That’s the exact same ratio he posted in 2017 across 145.2 IP while turning in a 3.89 ERA. Major league baseball is on pace to set another record in strikeouts this season, but Jose hasn’t yet been the benefactor of that trend.

3. Wins Will Ever Matter

The short answer is no, and the longer answer is heck no. Even still, the Twins are in the midst of a nearly 100-win campaign and Jose has exactly 10 wins through 25 turns. Despite posting a better ERA than both Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson, each of his counterparts trump him in the wins category. The 2017 Twins won just 83 games and made the wild card game during the last week of the season. Berrios made 26 appearances (25 starts) and won 14 games that year. Now he should make something like seven more turns in the regular season, and conceivably could finish with 17 wins and a new career high, but that would throw the pace and ratio all out of whack on furthering the idea that pitcher wins are fickle and dumb.

4. Bruising Body Blows

You may have heard that the Athletics' Khris Davis is a fan of the .247 batting average (though he’s going to be stretched to make it five consecutive years this season). What you probably didn’t know is that Jose Berrios has a small run of his own going. After leading the big leagues in HBP during 2017, he totaled the same number (13) a year ago. In 2019 he’s plunked eight opponents, which puts him on pace for just 10 when all is said and done. There’s nothing wrong with pitching inside, and the two-seam action on his secondary fastball has been a main culprit in getting in on hitters in the past. If we’re going for a trifecta here though, knuckles and gluteus maximus’ (maximi?) will need to be on the lookout.

5. Bump it With the Booty

Much has been made down the stretch about Jose Berrios and his fastball velocity. Having pumped 95 and 96 mph at times, he’s worked more in the 91-93 mph range as the summer has worn on. His overall velocity is just a tad off at 93.4 mph (93.8 mph in 2018), but there was a clear decline to start August. Wes Johnson has been noted as a velocity guru, and much of a pitcher’s strength comes from sitting back in his hips and driving with your butt. There could be mechanical issues going on, or it could be nothing more than wear and tear. Fangraphs had three starts from July 31 to Aug 11 in which Jose averaged 90.8, 91.8, and 91.7 mph on his fastball. His last outing against the Rangers was back up to 93.0 mph and that’s virtually where he’s sat all year. We’ll see where it goes from here.

6. An Emerging Offering

Zack Pierce wrote a piece for The Athletic back in March that highlighted the emergence of Jose Berrios’ changeup. The Twins starter was fresh off a 10-strikeout Opening Day performance against the Cleveland Indians. Fast forward to today and the pitch has been thrown a career high 14.9% of the time. Over a 5% increase from 2018, Berrios has utilized an offering once perfected by Minnesota starter Johan Santana. Needing something to pair with the fastball/curveball combo, Berrios has gotten 2.1% of his 11% swinging strike rate from the offering. Nearly 20% from an offering not intended to fool or overpower, it’s an admirable step in the right direction.

7. Summer Sorrows Show Sun on Horizon

For whatever reason Jose Berrios and his repertoire is not a fan of August. Over the course of his career he owns a 5.92 ERA across 19 starts during the month. His K/9 remains strong but the WHIP gets ugly and things go awry. With an 8.44 ERA (mainly due to the worst start of his career) during three starts this month, the trend has continued. Thankfully he’ll make just two more starts before the calendar turns, and both come against the hapless Detroit Tigers. September has generally represented a reprieve (4.77 ERA), and even if that’s because of watered down competition, getting right for the postseason should be the lone remaining focus.

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Good breakdown, hope to see Berrios finish the season strong. He really has been pretty darn good this year. Much like Sano, it is frustrating when things don't go well for him because of all the talent he has, but no one is great for an entire 162 game slate (except maybe Mike Trout). As long as he pitches well in September and October, his recent issues will be easily forgotten.


Also, for those of you who play FanDuel, Berrios is $8,800 today, which is a bargain, especially against Detroit. Kepler and Cruz are pretty affordable too.

As much as I want him to be an Ace, he really is not a true Ace, only the Twins Ace.He is very good, but I am never thinking when he takes the mound we have this game for sure.In terms of the wins, remember he is going up against normally the best pitcher on the other team, which limits run scored for him typically. 


As much as I want him to be an Ace, he really is not a true Ace, only the Twins Ace.He is very good, but I am never thinking when he takes the mound we have this game for sure.In terms of the wins, remember he is going up against normally the best pitcher on the other team, which limits run scored for him typically. 


I mean....that's not entirely true.It's pretty much just a 1/5 (or so) chance he is going up against the other team's ace.

    • Dantes929 likes this

Could be he needs a rest with some time off. Could also very well be mechanics.Nothing great to compare to but watching last night it looked like he was stepping toward third more and throwing across his body.Any golfers out there who hit effortless 250 yard drives for a time only to find themselves putting a lot of effort into hitting 230 yard drives for long stretch find this so hard to believe?Then you get a lesson and find out that just changing one thing like grip or posture fixes everything.

Aug 24 2019 09:38 AM
Getting lit up by the Tigers is NOT a good sign, especially after Goodrum had to leave with an injury. They were down to one guy who was decent. I think he might be injured or he's reverted to an old habit.
Aug 24 2019 12:41 PM
I’m not sure Berrios’ minor league K numbers are even relevant. I know he isn’t far removed from the minors, but league K rates have shot up quite a bit even in those few short years.

I'd love to see him get a little rest.If they still had a 10 game lead he'd be on the IL, resting up for the playoffs.But even in the thick of a pennant race, I'd still rest him.He's not helping much when he's getting hammered. 

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