MIN 6, DET 4: Berrios Figures It Out, Bullpen Barely Hangs On
Image courtesy of © Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY SportsBox Score
Berrios: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 67.3% strikes
Home Runs: Cron (1), Rosario (3)
Multi-Hit Games: Rosario (3-for-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R), Polanco (2-for-4), Cruz (2-for-4, R), Garver (2-for-3, 2 2B, BB, R), Buxton (2-for-4, 2B, RBI)
WPA of +0.1: Hildenberger .283, Rogers .172, Cron .153, Berrios .142, Rosario .131, Buxton .103
WPA of -0.1: Schoop -.111, May -.175, Parker -.204
(chart via FanGraphs)
Berrios pitched to Jason Castro in all three of his previous starts coming into today. That combo seemed to make a lot of sense, as Berrios entered today’s game with a 4.56 ERA in 71 innings pitched to Garver, a full run higher than his ERA with Castro (he’s only pitched 18 2/3 innings to Willians Astudillo).
The Berrios-Garver duo got off to a bit of a rocky start, but there was no harm done. It took Berrios 27 pitches to get through the first inning, but the Tigers were held scoreless. They weren’t as lucky in the second, as Berrios gave up a double to Ronny Rodriguez, then a two-run homer to Gordon Beckham.
Regardless of any pitch calling or receiving elements, Berrios just didn’t look especially sharp early on after having six days off. His command of his offspeed pitches was nowhere near as good as it had been in his previous starts so far this season. He had been using his curveball a ton, increasing his usage of that offering from 30.4% last year to 42.9% so far this year, but that pitch wasn’t worthy of being featured as such today.
That lack of command didn’t show up in the box score, as his control was good enough to where he only walked one batter and hit another, but he was not spotting those offspeed pitches. But they figured it out.
Berrios (and Garver) decreased the dependency on that curveball and instead went to more sinkers today. Jose had been throwing that pitch 16.4% of the time so far this year, but threw the sinker 26 times today among his 98 pitches.
The result seemed to be that Berrios’ four-seam fastball really played up. Berrios got 14 swinging strikes, nine of which came on the four-seamer. That’s very unusual, as Berrios typically gets a much higher percentage of swings and misses on his offspeed offerings.
Berrios didn’t get a single swinging strike on a four-seam fastball in his last start against the Phillies, he got just one in his start before that at Kansas City and three on Opening Day against Cleveland. Add it all up, and Berrios had just four swinging strikes on 87 four-seam fastballs heading into today (4.6%). He had nine on just 35 four-seamers this afternoon (25.7%).
Assessing what’s working, what isn’t and making proper adjustments is typically a collaboration between the pitcher and the catcher. You may have some input from coaches between innings, but all the adjustments made on the fly are between those two guys on the field. It’s still very much worth monitoring how Berrios and Garver work together going forward, as I think we all expect those two to be playing together for quite some time, but it was a very encouraging afternoon.
Below you can see all the balls and called strikes for Berrios. We’ve had some fun analyzing and discussing these charts, which come from MLB’s StatCast data via Baseball Savant. It’s sort of like a work of art in that not everyone will see the same thing, and I always like to point out the top and bottom of the strike zone isn’t the same for every batter, but to my eyes Garver had a very good afternoon, especially by his standards. He also smothered several balls in the dirt with runners on in the eighth and ninth innings.
Garver was a force at the plate once again, something you’d have to figure the pitching staff also appreciates. He was 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a walk. That puts him up to 11-for-22 on the season with three home runs and three doubles.
Garver, C.J. Cron and Byron Buxton all hit two balls in excess of 105 mph. Altogether, the Twins combined for nine balls hit at a 105 mph exit velocity or harder. Cron’s first homer as a Twin was an absolute laser beam.
The Twins also played excellent defense today. Jorge Polanco made a web gem and Cron had several beautiful scoops, but nothing beats this great catch made by Buxton as he crashed into the wall.
The Twins led 6-2 heading into the eighth inning, but things got a little hairy with the bullpen. Trevor May ran into trouble, the Tigers managed to score two runs in the eighth, but Taylor Rogers ended up pitching out of a jam, leaving the bases loaded.
Blake Parker came out for the ninth to attempt to record his fourth save as a Twin. He had a bit of an adventure in picking up the save on Saturday and his career ERA on zero days rest is 5.18, so there was plenty of reason for anxiety.
Parker gave up a leadoff infield single on a hot grounder Polanco couldn’t quite handle. Parker walked the next batter, putting the game-tying run on base with no outs for Miguel Cabrera. Anxiety level rising.
Parker fell behind Cabrera 3-1 — teetering on a panic attack now — but battled back to strike him out. A nine-pitch battle with Christin Stewart followed, Parker walked him and was done for the day after needing 29 pitches to record one out.
Trevor Hildenberger came in and struck out the next two batters to strand the bases loaded and earn his first save of the season, the ninth of his career. After inheriting 25 runners in 73 appearances last year, Hildenberger has already inherited 14 runners in just eight games this season. His resurgence has been invaluable to the Twins’ bullpen thus far.
Postgame With Baldelli
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Next Three Games
Mon vs. TOR, 6:40 pm CT (Perez-Shoemaker)
Tue vs. TOR, 6:40 pm CT (Gibson-Sanchez)
Wed vs. TOR, 6:40 pm CT (Odorizzi-Thornton)
MIN 4, DET 3: Bats Quiet, Bullpen Hangs On
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