Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Front Page: Arizona Fall League Preview: Royce Lewis Head...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 04:26 PM
As of your reading of this article, the Arizona Fall League season has gotten underway for the 2019 season. If you’re thinking that seems...
Full topic ›

Front Page: Should Eddie Rosario Be Benched for Not Hustl...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:25 PM
Eddie Rosario is one of five Twins hitters to hit 30 home runs or more this season to help the team set a new standard at the big-league...
Full topic ›

Game Thread: Twins vs KC 4:40 PM PST (6:40 PM CDT) 9/19/19

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:25 PM
The Twins took two steps forward toward the goal of winning the division during the series of games against the Sox. Unfortunately, after...
Full topic ›

Front Page: Mission Accomplished: An Elite Twins Bullpen

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:13 PM
As the month of July came to an end, Minnesota Twins fans watched with anticipation hoping that their club was going to make the necessar...
Full topic ›

Front Page: Twins Game Recap (9/18): Twins’ Offense Absen...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:54 PM
After a 12 inning game and the White Sox using a bullpen game, it looked like the Twins’ offense would have some fun at the plate tonight...
Full topic ›

Can Ryne Harper Continue His Early-Season Success?

Ryne Harper is not a traditional rookie. As a 30-year old, he took the long-road to the big leagues and he has made his presence felt so far in the Twins bullpen. He worked his way through the Braves and Mariners farm systems before landing with the Twins.

How has it taken this long for Mr. Harper to stick at the big-league level?
Image courtesy of © Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports
One of Harper’s first pieces of success has been his ability to limit hard contact. Out of the 22 batted balls against him this season, none have been barreled up. This has helped his 89.8 exit velocity to be right around the league average. By not giving up hard contact, there have been few hits recorded against him.

Harper has been successful by relying on two pitches. His curveball has averaged 72.5 mph, but batters still can’t seem to figure it out. So far this season, men stepping in the box have only been able to muster up a .286 slugging percentage when seeing his curveball. However, his curveball hasn’t been his only weapon.

Because of the threat of his curveball, his fastball has been even better. He’s thrown almost the same number of both pitches, but he has yet to allow an extra-base hit off of his fastball. Opponents have only two hits off his heater and heater is a loose term for an 87.8 mph pitch.

Batters are averaging a 19.6 degree launch angle against Harper, which is higher than the league average of 11.0. That being said, players still aren’t able to make solid contact against his two-pitch delivery. His weighted OBP ranks in the top 5% in the entire league.

He’s also been avoiding walks, but this trend follows from his minor league career. As a professional, he has averaged 2.7 BB/9 and he has two walks in 8 1/3 innings so far this season. Harper hasn’t shown a high strikeout rate at the big-league level, but he averaged over 11 SO/9 in the minors. He needs to limit base runners and he has been able to do that throughout his career.

If you want to have some fun, go and check out Harper’s Baseball Savant page from MLB.com. You can see video of every one of his pitches from this season. He’s thrown one cutter this season and it came against another Haper from Philadelphia. Yes, the man that signed for more than $300 million this off-season. Spoiler alert… Minnesota’s Harper is able to retire Philadelphia’s Harper.

There are some signs of trouble in Harper’s numbers. Players might not be barreling up the ball, but he is giving up hard hit balls over 40% of the time. That’s almost 7% higher than the league average. Some of these hard-hit balls are because of his low velocity. There’s still room for him to get closer to his minor league strikeout numbers.

Minnesota’s bullpen still has flaws but Harper seems to have found his niche. The league might be able to make some adjustments but his change in speeds separates him from the pack at this point. Batters have to guess if the fastball or the curveball is coming.

So far, they haven’t been very lucky.

Do you think Harper will be able to continue his success? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

  • pbrezeasap likes this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

28 Comments

Nope
    • USAFChief and TheLeviathan like this

Nice while it lasted.

 

Any analysis on Kimbrel?

After giving up a 3-run homer tonight, this may not be the best time to sing Harper's praises. However, I do now see what form of magic he is throwing. It's the curve ball that he can throw at many speeds and to many locations, avoiding the middle most of the time. 

 

Harper's fast ball goes between 89 and 91, which is not impressive, except that his motion is pretty similar to his curve. The homer was Castro's fault, for giving in to a good hitter, Carlos Correa. Trouble was, it needed to be located in a corner, not middle in. 

 

For Harper to stick in the show, he needs to start hitting corners with his meager heater. Then he can use the gas to finish off hitters, after getting them in a hole with the curve. That, or develop a third pitch, like a slider or a good change. Harper's curve/heater combo isn't quite enough, after hitters get more accustomed to his repertoire. 

 

Or, he can just throw more curves. Very seldom do guys square that up, even if they're expecting it. 

 

One other option would be for Harper to learn that little cutter that kept Bartolo Colon in the majors for an extra ten years. Somebody got his phone number? 

    • blindeke and MN_ExPat like this
He allowed a big blast tonight. He has allowed a few inherited runners to score. Is he special? Nope. Can he find a role and be successful? Yes, yes he can. He can be good to excellent as the 6th or 7th man who pitches an inning or 2 as a mid or long guy who presents an entirely different look. He produces weak contact, despite the HR allowed Monday, and generally has good control. He spots his average FB well. But no doubt his curve, at different speeds, is the key. If he can continue to hit the zone with curveballs that change speed, he can absolutely be part of an effective pen. As much as I root for him, I can't help but compare him to Magill. Magill lacks some consistency to be sure. But his FB sits 92-94 with a slider/slurve that can be devastating with just a little more consistency. Which one would you put more faith and expectation in?
    • pbrezeasap, Dman, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this

I have no idea if he will continue his success but everyone gives up occasional homers. Everyone.  Just watching on tv but it does seem like there are days it looks like I could hit him and others where it looks tough for anyone to hit him. If a manager has any value at all it would be to keep him on a short leash during the former and to lengthen it for the latter.

    • woolywoolhouse, Dman and MN_ExPat like this

I have more faith in Magil.  He was a pleasant surprise last year, and Molly used him in an odd manner, as there were a few times where he would not pitch for over a week.  But he has some kind of track record, where as Harper, despite some modest success this month, has more of an up hill climb.  Of course a great story, and hoping he sticks.

    • pbrezeasap likes this

We've had some good (or bad?) timing with these "can they keep it up?" articles. Maybe we should stop for our pitchers' sakes!

    • pbrezeasap, woolywoolhouse, rghrbek and 1 other like this
Photo
Aerodeliria
Apr 22 2019 11:02 PM

Meh! He got roughed up a little tonight. Time will tell. His upside is that he hasn't walked himself into disaster innings and fielders really do appreciate that.

 

Maybe he could develop a palm ball or something.

 

The league might be able to make some adjustments but his change in speeds separates him from the pack at this point.

 

at this point ... 9 innings pitched into his major league career as a 30 year old rookie. i think the league will make adjustments

 

i like the 'career minor leaguer makes the show' story as much as anyone else, but if we're still talking about ryne harper in august, it's because the twins are 10+ games out

    • USAFChief, rghrbek and Wizard11 like this
Photo
psturnbloom
Apr 22 2019 11:06 PM

I still like his stuff. Fluctuating speed keeps batters guessing. I think he'll prove to be an asset as the season continues.

    • h2oface and Dman like this
Photo
Channing1964
Apr 23 2019 02:22 AM
I like the Rudy story and the sire of Ft. Myers as much as anyone. I am sure even Harper himself knows that when Magill, Moya, and Reed come back he will be in Rochester. If he holds it together he could be part of the "overworked bullpen shuttle" that is sure to come later this summer. Whoever we run out there is going to have their bad days. This guy wasn't gonna be perfect all year. I hope he stays positive and keeps trying to get better every single day.
    • h2oface likes this

 

......The homer was Castro's fault, for giving in to a good hitter, Carlos Correa. Trouble was, it needed to be located in a corner, not middle in. 

 

So Castro wanted it in the wheelhouse, with absolutely no movement? I don't think so. Castro didn't throw the pitch there.

 

I'm not betting on him..... weith 5/8 inherieted runners scored so far. But I thought that from the get go, when they announced he had made the roster. I might have prejudice. Like ST counts, eh?



Or, he can just throw more curves. Very seldom do guys square that up, even if they're expecting it.


It is virtually impossible to throw curve balls past MLB hitters when they are expecting one.

"Hanging breaking balls are a gift from god." -K Puckett
    • nicksaviking and blindeke like this
Photo
nicksaviking
Apr 23 2019 06:47 AM

 

It is virtually impossible to throw curve balls past MLB hitters when they are expecting one.

"Hanging breaking balls are a gift from god." -K Puckett

 

He's got a long way to go to scrub the memories of the last curveball-only reliever from my mind.

 

Speaking of which, I don't think it's a great idea for this team to carry both Harper and Duffey. 

    • ashbury and USAFChief like this
Photo
nicksaviking
Apr 23 2019 06:52 AM

Also funny, Brooks Baseball is calling Harper's less loopy curveball a slider. It must move a bit more horizontally:

 

http://www.brooksbas...3/2019&s_type=2

 

74 MPH sliders are still curveballs in my book.

    • USAFChief likes this

Tony Fiore had a really good year once. Fingers crossed.

 

So Castro wanted it in the wheelhouse, with absolutely no movement? I don't think so. Castro didn't throw the pitch there.

 

I'm not betting on him..... weith 5/8 inherieted runners scored so far. But I thought that from the get go, when they announced he had made the roster. I might have prejudice. Like ST counts, eh?

No, Castro didn't ask for it in the Correa's wheelhouse. The real problem is that Ryne Harper's fastball has no significant movement. He does a good job of mixing it in with his many curves, but his relative lack of command of the heater, combined with its barely adequate velocity and lack of movement, make it meat for the league's best hitters, of which Carlos Correa is definitely one. 

 

I mentioned later that Harper could try adding one more pitch, but after mulling it over I think he should try to learn the cutter technique used by Greg Maddux and Bartolo Colon. Both men threw the pitch in the upper 80's to low 90's for great effect. A cutter like that would give Ryne Harper a fastball as effective as his curve balls at getting multiple whiffs. 

 

Of course this is a simplistic solution offered by a dubious source of sports wisdom. However, Harper looks like the kind of pitcher that might make it work. He already is a control pitcher with relatively fine command of a difficult pitch, the curve. The Maddux-style cutter would allow him to throw a fastball at the left side of the zone, then have it break outside the zone late, at least getting the ball off the bat's sweet spot, unlike his current heater, which tracks nice and straight right into the heart of the lumber. 

 

Other than that, he could keep throwing curves, which is my gripe about Castro. The catcher should know which pitches to avoid, not just which locations. If Correa was having trouble straightening out the curve, then keep flashing number 2. Giving Correa a cut at Harper's BP heater on a 3-2 count strikes me as just irresponsible. Frankly, it'd be better to walk the guy. 

    • Danchat and blindeke like this

 

Tony Fiore had a really good year once. Fingers crossed.

 

Didn't he throw a "palmball"?

No, Castro didn't ask for it in the Correa's wheelhouse. The real problem is that Ryne Harper's fastball has no significant movement. He does a good job of mixing it in with his many curves, but his relative lack of command of the heater, combined with its barely adequate velocity and lack of movement, make it meat for the league's best hitters, of which Carlos Correa is definitely one.

I mentioned later that Harper could try adding one more pitch, but after mulling it over I think he should try to learn the cutter technique used by Greg Maddux and Bartolo Colon. Both men threw the pitch in the upper 80's to low 90's for great effect. A cutter like that would give Ryne Harper a fastball as effective as his curve balls at getting multiple whiffs.

Of course this is a simplistic solution offered by a dubious source of sports wisdom. However, Harper looks like the kind of pitcher that might make it work. He already is a control pitcher with relatively fine command of a difficult pitch, the curve. The Maddux-style cutter would allow him to throw a fastball at the left side of the zone, then have it break outside the zone late, at least getting the ball off the bat's sweet spot, unlike his current heater, which tracks nice and straight right into the heart of the lumber.

Other than that, he could keep throwing curves, which is my gripe about Castro. The catcher should know which pitches to avoid, not just which locations. If Correa was having trouble straightening out the curve, then keep flashing number 2. Giving Correa a cut at Harper's BP heater on a 3-2 count strikes me as just irresponsible. Frankly, it'd be better to walk the guy.


The pitcher can shake him off. Pitch selection is on the pitcher.
    • USAFChief and howieramone2 like this
Photo
Dr. Beanpole
Apr 23 2019 03:34 PM

Does anyone else get a "Pat Neshek" vibe from Harper? It doesn't look crazy impressive watching him pitch, but inducing weak contact is still an effective way to pitch. I think he could be a decent bullpen guy for a long time to come if he continues to improve on what makes him effective now. Maybe a 6th/7th inning guy. Not amazing, but useful.

 

The pitcher can shake him off. Pitch selection is on the pitcher.

Of course, the rookie pitcher, just barely hanging on, can shake off the veteran first round draft pick catcher known for his defensive catching prowess. Sure, he can shake off his call. It might even happen, one time in about a hundred. Otherwise, the rookie throws whatever the catcher asks for, and tries to hit the glove each time. In a pressure situation, it's Castro's call. 

Of course, the rookie pitcher, just barely hanging on, can shake off the veteran first round draft pick catcher known for his defensive catching prowess. Sure, he can shake off his call. It might even happen, one time in about a hundred. Otherwise, the rookie throws whatever the catcher asks for, and tries to hit the glove each time. In a pressure situation, it's Castro's call.


He's not your typical rookie. If he's not comfortable shaking off the catcher, I don't want him on the team.
Photo
Twins_Fan_For_Life
Apr 23 2019 05:49 PM
Sorry. He's a slop thrower. Couldn't break a window with his fastball. Big league hitters get paid really big bucks feast on this kind of pitching.
Photo
Twins_Fan_For_Life
Apr 23 2019 05:50 PM
And...I deeply apologize for this being posted three times.
    • LaBombo likes this
Photo
yarnivek1972
Apr 23 2019 05:52 PM

And...I deeply apologize for this being posted three times.

So, you don’t apologize for the other three?

😎
    • ashbury and LaBombo like this