The Gib is Up, Kyle Is For Real
Image courtesy of © Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY SportsIn watching Gibson compete against the Boston Red Sox today, I found myself wondering if even I’ve given him his due. As someone who writes about the team, and is in tune with statistical happenings, I found myself in awe of his transformation.
For the Red Sox, Rick Porcello is hardly cut from the same cloth that Chris Sale is considered a part of. That being said, he’s an American League Cy Young winner pitching for one of the best lineups in all of baseball. Today, Kyle Gibson went out and had no problem going toe to toe with him.
Then it happened, there was a defining moment during the contest that Gibson cemented himself as being the pitcher of new, and not the one of old. Allowing a solo home run to Mookie Betts leading off the fifth inning, Gibson would eventually find himself in a bases loaded, one out jam. With Rafael Devers up the Twins starter induced a pop up, and then a Brock Holt groundout to end the inning without further damage. He was at 99 pitches on the day.
Expecting him to be done, Gibson came back out for the sixth inning. He had unfinished business. Porcello threw at Eduardo Escobar earlier in the game, going up at his head and hitting him in a flailing elbow. Even before the Twins utility man left the ballgame, you have to imagine that didn’t sit well with the hometown nine. In heading back out for the sixth, Gibson took the liberty of plunking Boston catcher Sandy Leon in retaliation. With a runner on first before recording an out, he got a ground ball double play and then retired Betts to end his day.
Over the course of those two instances, Gibson displayed exactly what the numbers say. This man is not the same pitcher Minnesota fans saw being on the way out the door. He has begun to look every bit the pitcher who was selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft. For a Derek Falvey and Thad Levine front office that is going to hang its hat on pitching, that emergence is absolutely what the organization needs.
By the numbers, Gibson has only improved upon where he was a season ago. His 93.4 mph average fastball velocity is a career best, and sees inflation each time he rears back for 95 or 96 mph heat. He’s getting swinging strikes 11.2% of the time, while also allowing contact just 74.4% of the time; both of those numbers are career bests. He’s cut down on balls leaving the yard, and with an 8.8 K/9, he’s become a legitimate strikeout pitcher.
A season ago, the Twins used a record number of different starting pitchers. This season, they’ve seen some of the future emerge in the form of Fernando Romero and Zack Littell. With Jose Berrios looking like an ace, the rotation in years to come should have more spots claimed than question marks. Knowing guys may be left out in the cold, Kyle Gibson has taken it upon himself to make sure he’s not a member of that group.
For someone who had so much promise, went through so much adversity, and has overcome professional struggles, this is a redemption story of the greatest kind. Although he’s probably never going to get the All-Star level fanfare, or be noted among the greats across the league, Gibson has proved to be a legitimate weapon for the Twins. He’s a guy that the manager can trust to call his own number, will put up the best effort for his teammates, and is now competing at a level that seemed all but lost not too long ago.
- Blake, brvama, Oldgoat_MN and 5 others like this