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Front Page: Offseason Blueprint: The Window Just Opened

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:06 AM
Much has been made of Thad Levine’s quote last year where he said, “When (the window is open), we plan on striking.”So much, in fact, tha...
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Should the BBWAA do away with awards?

Other Baseball Today, 09:43 AM
Despite Gerrit Cole putting together one of the greatest pitching performances of the last decade, he was defeated in the BBWAA award vot...
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Front Page: Offseason Blueprint: Hooking a Big Fish

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:32 AM
There’s no denying that the Minnesota Twins greatest need this offseason is pitching. The front office has stated their focus will be on...
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Front Page: Quick Hitter: New Rules for 2020

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:25 AM
During the 2019 offseason MLB and the MLBPA agreed on various rule changes. Some of these rule changes went into effect in 2019, but ther...
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E-Twins manager Ray Smith named Appy League Hall of Famer

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 09:18 AM
  Very well deserved. I feel like it could have happened years ago. 
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Minnesota’s Game 3 Starting Pitching Options in the Playoffs

The Twins all but locked up a playoff spot over the weekend after sweeping a doubleheader from Cleveland on Saturday. Now fans can start looking ahead to the playoffs and wondering how the club will fare against some of the other top squads in the American League. With Michael Pineda’s recent suspension, there are plenty of questions about how the Twins will use their starting pitchers in the weeks ahead.

Beyond Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi, who would start for the Twins in the ALDS Game 3?
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Gibson
W-L 13-7, 4.76 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 151 K, 50 BB, 155.0 IP
Minnesota used Kyle Gibson as a reliever on Sunday and things didn’t go exactly to plan. He entered the game after Fernando Romero had already put multiple runners on base and then Gibson surrendered a three-run home run. Only one of the earned runs was charged to Gibson, but the big hit came when he was pitching.

One of the bigger issues for Gibson are the health issues he has been battling for most of the season. In spring training, he was also diagnosed with E. coli that he contracted while doing mission work during the off-season. He entered camp around 200 pounds, which is down about 15 pounds from his desired weight. Recently, he returned from the 10-day IL after missing time because of ulcerative colitis.

Gibson struggles when batters get repeated looks at him in the same game, especially for the third time. His first time through the batting order he has held batters to a .248/.315/.376 (.691) slash line with a 63 to 18 strikeout to walk ratio. His third time through the line-up results in batters hitting .333/.386/.558 (.944) with eight of his 22 homers allowed coming in this situation.

Martin Perez
W-L 10-7, 4.89 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 125 K, 64 BB, 152.2 IP
Perez didn’t even start the year in Minnesota’s rotation, but he was a breath of fresh air when he was added to the rotation in mid-April. From April 15-May 23, he looked like one of the best pitchers in the league as he posted a 2.17 ERA and held batters to a .644 OPS. His cut fastball was a revelation and it helped him to strike out 44 batters in eight games. He looked like a candidate for the All-Star Game and it certainly seemed like Minnesota had made something out of nothing.

In his 18 starts since May 23, Perez has not looked like the same pitcher. His cut fastball, that had been his bread and butter during his hot start, has not looked the same. He has allowed more than a hit per inning and he’s only managed 69 strikeouts in 94 2/3 innings. With 16 home runs allowed, he has surrendered nearly a home run per appearance.

Right-handed batters have compiled an .817 OPS against him throughout the year. This isn’t good news for the Twins that will be facing the Yankees or the Astros in the ALDS and both clubs are very right-hand heavy. Only New York and Houston have higher OPS totals than Minnesota this year so there doesn’t seem like a scenario where Perez would be asked to see their line-up multiple times in the same game.

Bullpen Game
After Friday night’s botched rainout, the Twins were left no available starting pitchers for Saturday’s doubleheader. This left the team with a unique strategic situation and a full September roster of bullpen arms. In Game 1, the Twins were able to shut out the Indians behind three innings from Devin Smeltzer and more than one inning from Zack Littell, Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers.

During Game 2, Lewis Thorpe was the lone pitcher to surrender any runs as he struggled with command throughout his appearance. Cody Stashak and Trevor May joined the shutout crew from Game 1, but the most impressive appearance was from 21-year old Brusdar Graterol. Over two innings, he was regularly sitting in triple-digits with his fastball and this pitch had more movement than any of his other big-league appearances. Add in a strong slider and he looked lights out.

During last year’s playoffs, the Milwaukee Brewers used a bold strategy as they used Wade Miley as the starter and he only pitched to one batter. Manager Craig Counsell was hoping the Dodgers would load their line-up with left-handed hitters and then the Brewers quickly switched to a left-handed pitcher. Teams are likely more aware of this type of strategy, but it is something a team could try during October, especially one like the Twins with few starting pitching options.

What strategy do you think the Twins would use in Game 3 of the ALDS? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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42 Comments

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MMMordabito
Sep 16 2019 08:56 PM
Unless Gibson has a miraculous recovery in the next couple days, I say Dobnak with Smeltzer at the ready.
    • nokomismod and PDX Twin like this

Y'know, I sometimes wonder why you would start your best pitcher against their best pitcher. Maybe start worst against best (or best against worst) and hope for a miracle. The Twins could also pull a first...a bullpen Playoff game!

 

Again, who would be the guys you would keep. Would you keep Perez or Gibson. Can Perez be a bullpen guy? Do you want any of Smeltzer, Stashak or Graterol or Drobnak? 

 

Is Ryne Harper your secret weapom?

 

Could you put Hildenberger in the opposition uniform and have him sneak out on the mound?

    • brvama likes this
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Aerodeliria
Sep 16 2019 09:10 PM

I'd say go with Perez but keep him on a very short leash. Gibson simply cannot get anyone out right now, but Perez at least has the potential to be effective. Folks forget that he was very effective two starts ago with good movement and was firing strikes.

 

Gibson should be rested for one turn and then let's see how he fares. If they do decide to go with Gibson, he should be on even a shorter leash than Perez.

 

I'd call the Perez, Gibson game as a semi-bullpen game and if game four becomes a reality, that game would be a full bullpen game. It's not ideal, but the other options seem even less attractive IMHO.

 

I'm just as concerned about Berrios without sufficient rest, so I am concerned about the fourth starter as well. It wouldn't be Berrios IMHO. He needs his rest to be effective it seems.

    • brvama and wabene like this

I like Gibson but unless they can show some really good stuff in their last two starts I think you gotta keep Gibson and Perez off the roster. Berrios and Odorizzi backed up by May Duffey, Romo and Rogers.  Smeltzer, Dubnak, Graterol, Littell, Stashak and Thorpe for depth and a bullpen game or two or 3.  I like the idea of putting a bullpen game against the other team's ace, especially the way our pen has been pitching but do the Yankees even have an ace? If we threw Smeltzer, Dobnak, Littell Stashak and Graterol the only one that has a higher ERA than any of the Yankee starters is Graterol.I just think the pen has a higher upside than any starter after our top 2. Since they would all be looking at just a couple innings you could throw bullpen in game 1, Berrios in game 2, day off, bullpen in game 3, Odorizzi in game 4, day off and bullpen in game 5.  I know I shouldn't get carried away with how our bullpen did last weekend but I just think it is a better option than Gibson or Perez who probably don't last that long anyway.  I like Odorizzi a little better than Berrios so the other option is Odorizzi in game one, bullpen, Berrios, bullpen and then Odorizzi in game 5. Last thing we should do is follow traditional formula when we don't have the traditional strengths. Of course 2 weeks is a long time and performances will change our view but as it stands that is the way I would do it.Who would have thought that bullpen games could be viewed as a really good thing just a month ago but guys have really stepped up.

    • brvama and Jacks02 like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Sep 16 2019 11:41 PM

Spahn and Sain and pray for rain.

    • Mike Frasier Law, brvama, Dantes929 and 6 others like this

Unless he shows something in the next two weeks, it just can't be Gibson. He hasn't had a decent start since August 3rd, and that was against the Royals. If the health issues were contributing, then he has to prove that he's recovered from them. It won't surprise me if he's left off a post-season roster.
Perez has been much better than Gibby over their past 6 starts. He's had two bad outings, but he's had four pretty good ones:
8/13 @ Mil: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 0 ER
8/18 @ Tex: 5 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 2 ER
8/25 vs Det: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 2 ER
9/5 @ Bos: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 1 ER

Smeltzer and Dobnak both have potential to provide 5 innings. My guess is one of them (probably righty Dobnak) relieves Perez if Perez can't get thru 4 or 5, and then Smeltzer starts Game 4.Or you go lefty-lefty w/ Perez-Smeltzer so that you can go righty-righty w/ Dobnak-Graterol. Is there any chance Graterol could be stretched out?

    • brvama and wabene like this
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Channing1964
Sep 17 2019 12:38 AM
im not sure i understand. Miley is a lefty. Don't you mean they switched to a righty after one hitter. I didnt see the game and i hadnt heard that story. Im just sayin....I do however get the concept exactly.
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VivaBomboRivera!
Sep 17 2019 01:25 AM

 

Spahn and Sain and pray for rain.

 

Sailed straight down the fairway and clean over the heads of many Twin Daily inhabitants.Golf clap.

    • Dantes929, Platoon and wabene like this
This has made me wonder how common bullpen games have been in playoff baseball?
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diehardtwinsfan
Sep 17 2019 06:14 AM

I'm not sure I'd go bull pen game unless the dates line up in such a way that you only need 3 starters... even then, I'd only consider it if the pen hasn't gotten much work in games 1 and 2 with a day off between game 3 and 4. 

 

wow...weird having this conversation. Let's hope we actually win a few games in the post season this year. 

    • Twins33, Mike Frasier Law, brvama and 1 other like this
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stringer bell
Sep 17 2019 06:19 AM

Pérez and Gibson have been in the rotation for almost the entire season. We've seen a couple of good starts from Pérez and a couple of bad ones recently and Gibson has been pretty bad for a month and a half. I think each should get two more audition starts to see if they can put it together and have competitive starts in the postseason. If so, one or both get starts against Houston/New York, if not we resort to bullpen games and starts from guys who have spent the majority of the season in AAA.

    • brvama and DocBauer like this

I'm inclined to say neither and let Dobnak get that third start. Yeah i know it's extremely risky but Gibson is an automatic loss at this point and Perez is not much better. Losing Pineda really REALLY stings.

    • nokomismod likes this

I'd go with Dobnak... Dude is so cool, so poised, and along with that, he's got a really good sinker, and he's right handed. I think you'd want to have a Smeltzer or Thorpe at the ready, someone who can each 3-5 innings, if necessary. 

    • Mike Frasier Law, nokomismod, brvama and 2 others like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Sep 17 2019 07:29 AM
Gibby is a man of faith, so roll with him and hope those blessings from mission work come flowing back at the right time.
    • woolywoolhouse likes this
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VivaBomboRivera!
Sep 17 2019 07:40 AM

 

Gibby is a man of faith, so roll with him and hope those blessings from mission work come flowing back at the right time.

 

”I believe in ammunition."

Rogers, May, Duffey, Romo, Littell, Smeltzer,Dobnak,Harper,and Stashak all have ERA's well under 4.00. Then we have Graterol that throws strikes at 100 mph and very likely would join the club of sub 4.00 with more innings. By contrast the 87 team had one reliever with a sub 4 ERA (and that was 3.99).If the stats above hold true through the next 2 weeks that is 9 relievers with sub 4.00 ERA plus Graterol. Further contrast is Gibson and Perez with ERA's above 4.75 and trending higher.If you don't work bullpen games into the rotation you are wasting bullets on the bench and biting your nose to spite your face.

Have Gibson treat his last starts like Spring Training and work mostly on pitches that he can't locate. Don't worry about the score and smooth out any mechanical issues.

 

The 3rd starter will likely only pitch a few innings no matter who it is.I doubt we see many 100 pitch games from starters except from the Astros.

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SpicyGarvSauce
Sep 17 2019 07:55 AM

The way the ALDS schedule sets up, you play back to back games on the 4th and 5th - then an off day. Then back at it on the 7th. If the Twins were really considering a bullpen game, you could set yourself up for one in Game 2, and have the off day to get everyone rested.

 

Obviously, this means Game 1 would have to go about as well as it possibly could with having to use limited bullpen arms.

 

These conversations are fun - I just hope we aren't jinxing it. :)

    • Mike Frasier Law and SwainZag like this

This is a Les Straker type of situation and I say Smeltzer game three and Dobnak game 4. Unless Perez has two more solid outings. Let's go with the young fellows.

    • twinssouth likes this
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woolywoolhouse
Sep 17 2019 08:02 AM

If you're going to have a bullpen game, give Gibson or Perez the chance to either: start with an extremely short leash (like, two-hits or two-walks in a row short leash); or have a starter like Dobnak or Smeltzer, and bring in Gibson or Perez in the second or third (clean inning, nothing with runners on.)

    • DocBauer likes this

 

 

im not sure i understand. Miley is a lefty. Don't you mean they switched to a righty after one hitter. I didnt see the game and i hadnt heard that story. Im just sayin....I do however get the concept exactly.

It was righty Brandon Woodruff that came in to pitch after the 1st batter.

 

The plan was also to get them to load up on right handed hitters, not lefties like the article states.The Dodgers started 8 right handers against Miley in game 2.The strategy didn't really work because the Dodgers changed it up but still started 6 righties against Miley.Woodruff has pitched better against righties in his career.

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SpicyGarvSauce
Sep 17 2019 08:03 AM

Pavano, Liriano, & Duensing.

 

Those are the 3 starting pitchers the Twins used in their last appearance in the postseason.

 

Are Berrios, Odo, and __________ a better trio?

    • Mike Frasier Law and woolywoolhouse like this
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Nate Palmer
Sep 17 2019 08:03 AM

Considering that the Yankees and Astros are right there with the Twins in smashing lefties it seems like a setup for disaster to send Perez out there. Seems we need to hope for a better Gibson but plan for a short start from him and ride the bullpen the rest of the way. 

    • Mike Frasier Law likes this

 

If you're going to have a bullpen game, give Gibson or Perez the chance to either: start with an extremely short leash (like, two-hits or two-walks in a row short leash); or have a starter like Dobnak or Smeltzer, and bring in Gibson or Perez in the second or third (clean inning, nothing with runners on.)

 

I agree. 

 

I think we are falling too in love with the bullpen--I'm guilty of this as well. Can we really depend on bullpen games for 2-3 games in a five game playoff series? How about 3-4 in a seven game series? It's just not realistic. I think we give Gibson and Perez super short leashes with Smeltzer and Dobnak ready to take over when needed.

    • woolywoolhouse likes this

There are still 2-3 starts from Gibson and Perez. Hope one of them catches a hot streak and figures something out. If not, you ad lib with a short leash. I would assume it defaults to Gibson based on veteran status and such (though the recent bullpen use does raise some questions about the faith that Rocco has in him).


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