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Hypothetical rule change: remove DH when pitcher is removed

Other Baseball Today, 02:51 PM
I just read this potential rule change on Twitter and I am intrigued:   https://twitter.com/...4091739136?s=20     For th...
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Fangraphs Top 50 Free Agents

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 11:23 AM
Here is the link to their Top 50 Free Agent List with player write ups, community estimated contracts and Fangraphs estimated contracts....
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White Sox make changes

Other Baseball Today, 02:51 PM
Both Manager Rick Rentaria and pitching coach Don Cooper were let go.     Was a bit surprised by this, because the White S...
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What can Morton be had for?

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 08:55 PM
https://www.thescore...lb/news/2045846
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What to do with Lewis Thorpe?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:51 PM
Lewis Thorpe is out of options. The Twins either need to keep him on the MLB team as their 5th starter or as a reliever out of the bullpe...
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Astros-Twins ALDS Preview: Which Starting Rotation Has the Edge?

Had these two teams met a year ago, the Astros would have held a huge advantage in the starting rotation. Things have changed. The Twins have a clear edge, though it might be smaller than you think.
Image courtesy of © Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
In Game 1 on Tuesday, Kenta Maeda will oppose Zack Greinke. That’s a pretty classic matchup, featuring veterans with ample postseason experience and the ability to dominate when they’re in command of their full arsenal. The numbers say Maeda is better than Greinke right now, though, and in watching the two pitch, one gets exactly the same impression. Maeda’s ability to pitch primarily with his secondary stuff has surpassed that of Greinke, as the former Cy Young winner has tried to manage a significant loss of velocity.

Attached Image: Maeda.PNG


(To derive these estimates, I’ve averaged the player’s projected stats for 2020 from Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA system with their actual numbers, giving both data points equal weight, because a 60-game season (shortened, in some cases, by trips to the injured list) shouldn’t color our perceptions of pitchers entirely. This is a reasonable projection of each pitcher’s true talent at this moment, from a purely statistical, performance-informed lens.)

Maeda can more easily miss bats, at this stage, and has a bigger margin for error, and it shows up in his advanced pitching metrics. Throwing both his slider and his changeup to hitters on either side of the plate makes a huge difference for him. Greinke, though known as an enthusiastic and frequent tinkerer, has never shown the willingness to lean on pitches other than his fastball as hard as Maeda has done in his first season with the Twins. That’s good news for the Twins, who struggle when a pitcher refuses to give in and throw them fastballs in traditional fastball counts.

Game 2 will probably be the first chance to see how Houston’s pitching plan for the series diverges from that of the Twins. Whereas Minnesota will go to their second-biggest name, the Astros reportedly plan to use Framber Valdez as a reliever. Valdez had the best numbers among all Astros starters this season. In fact, the only AL pitchers who finished with more Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP), according to Baseball Prospectus, were Shane Bieber and Maeda.

Instead of the left-handed Valdez, who might make multiple multi-inning appearances even in a three-game set, Baker will hand the ball to José Urquidy in Game 2. Interestingly, Urquidy bears some similarities to José Berríos. Both are relatively short right-handers. Both have big, two-plane breaking balls, though whereas Berríos throws just that one curve, Urquidy has both his slider and a truer curveball, with great vertical depth. Both are at their best when they’re able to work both laterally and vertically within the zone, making the most of their four-pitch mixes. Though far less experienced at the upper levels, Urquidy is only a year younger than Berríos.

Coming into this season, in fact, Urquidy might have been considered a better bet than Berríos. After his ascendant 2019, which culminated in a start in Game 4 of the World Series, he had better projected numbers than Berríos. He missed most of the season, though, after testing positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of the July training camp and spending the first month of the campaign on the injured list for undisclosed reasons.

Since returning to the Astros, Urquidy has a great ERA, but his peripheral numbers are much shakier. As a result, Berríos now projects as the better of the two starters.

Attached Image: Berrios.PNG


We’ve seen such inconsistency from Berríos this year that it’s hard to feel overwhelmingly confident about this matchup. Urquidy has great stuff, not only with the aforementioned breaking balls, but with a four-seamer that works well at the top of the zone and a changeup that can really run away from left-handed batters. He’s probably somewhat closer to his preseason projections, and to his actual ERA, than to his dim advanced metrics, but with such a disrupted start to the season, it could also be that he’s just not going to be his best self in 2020.

If a Game 3 is necessary, the matchup of the starters will be as tight as the series itself. Michael Pineda has been solid since completing his suspension and rejoining the Twins rotation, but Lance McCullers, Jr. can dominate opposing batters with his power curveball, and he’s looked good since returning after a lengthy Tommy John rehab process.

Pineda’s slider should be highly effective against Houston’s heavily right-handed lineup, as it was when he faced similar offensive teams early this year. He’s fooled people a bit less with each start, though, and Rocco Baldelli figures to give him less time to struggle before going to the bullpen than he will with Maeda or Berríos. McCullers, meanwhile, has gotten right back into the habit of throwing a steady diet of curves, but they play a bit less effectively now that he seems to have left two miles per hour and a couple of inches of movement on the operating table.


Attached Image: Pineda.PNG

If the series gets this far, it should be a tightly contested final game. These starters are almost identical in their overall quality at this point. It might well come down to whether Houston can still effectively deploy Valdez as a fireman after McCullers starts to flag, or whether the Twins can successfully fire their string of bullpen bullets past Houston and eke out a victory.

Overall, the Twins have the better starting staff for this short series. The margins are small enough, though, that variance will swallow the advantage. This battle won’t come down to which starters are better, because neither side’s are sufficiently better to show that here. It will come down, instead, to who executes better, avoids mental pitfalls, and is lifted at the right time by their manager. Given the track records of all six of these guys, though, it’s no easier to tell who might do those things right in a big game than it is to discern which one is better, in general. That’s what makes playoff baseball so much fun.

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10 Comments

It's kind of funny that should we split the first 2 games, our season could hinge on the performance of Pineda in game 3. I don't have a problem with that, and after the unadjusted suspension left him with hardly a season, Pineda having a big game would be awesome for the Twins and him personally. Of course, I'd rather take the series in 2. Go Twins!

    • wabene likes this

In has last three games, after coming off IL, McCullers has given up 0 ER, with 24-4 K to Walk ratio, in 18 innings. No wins since Houston didn't score any runs while he was pitching. 

Why am I so angry that the Twins, who we watch and listen to so fervently without missing a game, we now have to figure out how to watch them at 1:00pm central? While the Yankee fans get to sit back, BOTH NIGHTS, and watch at 7:00pm (8:00 their freaking time).

    • DocBauer likes this
The astros have a pitching advantage imo. Twins strikeout too much and their hitters put the ball in play. The pressure will be on our defense to make the routine plays. Could be a low scoring tight series

Why am I so angry that the Twins, who we watch and listen to so fervently without missing a game, we now have to figure out how to watch them at 1:00pm central? While the Yankee fans get to sit back, BOTH NIGHTS, and watch at 7:00pm (8:00 their freaking time).


I agree. Getting two day games sucks. Plus it's my daughter's birthday on Wednesday. She was born about the same time that Joe Mauer was laying down a but in game 163.
Radio silence, DVR, Twins bubble.
A very interesting move from the Astros to move Valdez to the pen. Will be respond to being a sort of fireman? Has he ever relieved before, or at least recently? Considering the Twins have been surprisingly bad against LHSP this season I find the move questionable. I think the Twins have the advantage in the first 2 games based on results and experience, in the case of Berrios vs Urquidy. McCullers seems to be the kind of guy who can give the Twins lineup fits. Of course, hopefully there won't be a 3rd game. I give the Twins a slight edge here.
    • wabene likes this
Photo
Aerodeliria
Sep 29 2020 12:43 AM

One thing that Tom Kelly understood intuitively is that every game in the playoffs is Game 7 and that conventional patterns from the season should be ignored. (He also had some tricks up his sleeve that were only saved for the playoffs.) The mistake many managers make in playoff games is that they think about the morrow or they revert back to their mid-season mentality.

 

This usually involves pitching changes within a game. When a pitcher is pitching well, Kelly understood that you should leave him in until he's out of gas. It is shortsighted IMHO to consider who is going to pitch in Game 4. Pulling a pitcher after five innings so he can be ready for Game 4 is a mid-season strategy. Game 4 may never even happen! Last year, Berrios was pitching well and he was yanked too early. Dobnak wasn't pitching poorly IMHO and he was also yanked (albeit the poor decision from the previous game may have contributed to Baldelli pulling the trigger more quickly than he wanted to).

 

In Game 7 of last year's WS, AJ Hinch pulled Greinke after he gave up a home run on a very good pitch. Sometimes an opposing player just hits a very good pitch well--that was the only ball hit well off of Greinke to that point in the game. The bullpen imploded and Hinch was fired--maybe not only for that loss, but it was still a poor decision.

 

If Maeda is rolling tomorrow, why pull him after five or six? He has thrown well over 100 pitches (like 130) on more than one occasion when he pitched here in Japan.

 

Anyway, that's my two-yen's worth.

    • DocBauer, ToddlerHarmon and wabene like this
So you go Maeda, Berrios, Pineda then you have Hill and Odo. They used Hill for the season finale so it's doubtful you use him on short rest these three games, but damn he looks good. Better than almost all the Twins playoff # 2's in the past. Then you also have Odo. People complain about him and how he can't go deep, but he always shows up. He is a bulldog. Remember last year when our backs were against the wall he did pitch well in game 3. 5 innings 2 runs 5k's. I would not sleep on Odo he can be a weapon from the pen in the first round. If they advance Hill and Odo as your 4 and 5? Now that's pretty good!
    • DocBauer likes this

 

Why am I so angry that the Twins, who we watch and listen to so fervently without missing a game, we now have to figure out how to watch them at 1:00pm central? While the Yankee fans get to sit back, BOTH NIGHTS, and watch at 7:00pm (8:00 their freaking time).

I'm not saying there's a yankees bias but... there's a yankees bias.