On Lack of Pitching Youth, Eddie Rosario's Progress and Other Notes
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY SportsThe Rockies, who have the second-best record in the NL, have the youngest pitching staff in baseball. They have three pitchers younger than Haley ... in their rotation.
Among the numerous roster moves made the past few weeks included the additions of Nick Tepesch (28) and Drew Rucinski (28) to the roster. Wednesday evening, the team optioned Rucinski back to Triple A to make room for 29-year-old Adam Wilk.
As the 250-plus comments (and counting) on Seth’s writeup of the Wilk addition suggest, it was a bit of a controversial and puzzling move. It sounds like Wilk is likely to pitch out of the pen, alleviating some of the Jose Berrios outrage, but having a 29-year-old with little or no upside in the bullpen doesn’t make much sense either, especially considering the other options.
Berrios is starting Saturday, woooooooooo!!!
Obviously, the 22-year-old Berrios and 23-year-old Adalbert Mejia would represent a youth movement in the rotation, but there are a number of bullpen guys the Twins have pitching well in the minors who are already in their mid-20s.
Relievers Trevor Hildenberger, D.J. Baxendale, Alan Busenitz and Luke Bard are all 26-years-old. Mason Melotakis is 25 and both John Curtiss and Nick Burdi are 24. I’m not saying all seven of those guys are ready for The Show, but I gotta believe at least one of them deserves a look in a low-leverage role over a guy like Wilk.
But hey, what do I know? The Twins entered the evening with a 16-14 record, which is pretty remarkable. As I noted a while back, the last 24 teams who lost 100 averaged another 95 losses the next year. Only two of those teams bounced back with a winning record. And there doesn’t seem to be any fan apathy either, as the paid attendance eclipsed 90,000 for last weekend’s series against the Red Sox.
I guess some people (me) will always have an ax to grind.
Rosario Off to a Rosie Start
On the flip side, the Twins have the second-youngest hitters by average age this season at 27.1. One of the young hitters who doesn't seem to be getting much attention is Eddie Rosario. The 25-year-old entered this year with a strikeout rate of 25.2 percent, but he has managed to cut that to 17.7 so far this year.
Rosario is still swinging at as many balls as ever, he's just hitting them more often. His contact rate on balls out of the zone is up from 65.5 percent in 2016 to 70.6 so far this season.
Rosario also leads all of baseball in making medium contact, with a rate of 62.9 percent. While that's not a particularly great accomplishment, it does correlate to a nice drop in his frequency of making bad contact. His soft contact rate is 11.2 percent, which puts him is inside the top 20 among 184 qualified hitters.
Rosario is also among the top 20 percent of hitters in hitting the ball the other way. His rate of going to the opposite field has increased from 24.1 percent in 2016 to 29.2 this year.
-I typically like to include some notes about the expected pitching matchups over the weekend, but the Twins have yet to officially announce who will be starting Saturday or Sunday. But we do know the bats will dodge a bullet in Cleveland, facing Josh Tomlin, Mike Clevinger and Trevor Bauer. No disrespect to those guys, but it’s nice to miss Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar.
-The Twins staff is still dead last in swinging-strike rate at 8.2%. They also have the third-worst K/9 (6.98) and K% (17.9). They've also allowed highest contact percent at 82.5, which is two points higher than the next team.
-Miguel Sano has the lowest soft contact rate at 1.7 percent. That's 5.5 percent better than any other qualified hitter.
-Only the Reds have a higher rating in Defensive Runs Above Average than the Twins. The Twins lead the league in outfield arm runs. Yes, that is a real stat (ARM on Fangraphs). But curiously, the Twins have been the second-worst team at GIDP rate. This is calculated by dividing double plays turned by the number of PAs against with a runner on first and less than two outs.
-Daniel Palka (.240/.301/.423) has cooled off some after a hot start, but he has been doing a great job in cutting down on the Ks. After striking out in 38.6 percent of his at-bats for Rochester in 2016, he’s cut that rate to 23.9 so far this season.
-LaMonte Wade (.937) and Nick Gordon (.880) both rank in the top 10 in OPS among Southern League hitters.
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