Jump to content

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

The Forums

Game Thread—8/15/18 Pirates vs. Twins 12:10 PM

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:22 PM
Game starts in a little over half an hour. Archer vs. Berrios. Should be a nice day for a game. If someone can post lineups, it would be...

2018 Vikings Off-Season Thread

Minnesota Vikings Talk Today, 02:22 PM
Lots of questions to answer... QB - They need to make the right decision here. I won't claim to know what the right decision is after wat...

Article: What To Do With Byron Buxton?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:20 PM
On Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins activated Byron Buxton from his fourth separate stint on the disabled list this season. It's been a night...

Article: Looking Back: Twins Take Four Prep Hitters Atop...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 02:01 PM
In 2015, first-year manager Paul Molitor led the Minnesota Twins to an 83-79 win, the team’s first .500 season since 2010. Because of tha...

Article: MIN 5, PIT 2: Odorizzi, Polanco Spark Comeback

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:30 PM
Jake Odorizzi looked like he was going to completely derail in the second inning. He gave up a pair of runs on two hits and a couple of w...

Photo

Will the Real Kyle Gibson Please Stand Up?

Posted by Jamie Cameron , 19 February 2018 · 1,369 views

kyle gibson garvin alston
Will the Real Kyle Gibson Please Stand Up? With the Twins off-season moves seemingly drawing to a close, fans would be hard pressed not to be enthused by the clubs’ upgrades. At the beginning of the 2017 season, fans were frustrated with a lifeless offseason which involved adding Jason Castro, Matt Belisle, and newly reinvented Craig Breslow. Most cautioned that ‘Falvine’ (there’s my garage band name of the future) were assessing the organization and its infrastructure before making hasty free agent additions. This off-season, the front office has been aggressive, acquiring Jacob Pearson and David Banuelos from the Angels and Mariners for international slot money, adding Michael Pineda, Zach Duke, Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed, Annibal Sanchez, and trading for Jake Odorizzi.

Falvey and Lavine deserve credit for creatively adding to the Twins 2018 chances whilst maintaining strong organizational depth for 2019 and beyond. I would argue that the Twins punched a little above off-season expectations in their bullpen additions (with the addition of Reed) and a little below their expectations for the rotation given the earnestness of their interest in Yu Darvish. While the Twins have improved their starting five, the lack of a higher quality add like Darvish or Archer (although unsurprising) heightens the pressure on Kyle Gibson to build on his string second half performance in 2017. So who is the real Kyle Gibson? What can Twins fans expect in 2018?

One question I pondered before I dug into Gibson’s numbers; Did/do Twins fans have unreasonable expectations for Gibson? There has always been a contention that Gibson has not lived up to the hype. The Twins first round selection (22nd overall) in 2009, Gibson ascended to fairly lofty prospect status, reaching a peak of #34 overall (Baseball America). The Twins have struggled to draft and develop front line starting pitching for a significant period of time, making the pressure on Gibson to be ‘the answer’ immense when he made his big league debut in 2013. It should also be noted that in spite of Gibson falling a little in the draft due to his injury history, the Twins have had other late first round pick pitchers who couldn’t establish themselves in the majors at all (such as Alex Wimmers).

With Ervin Santana out and until May and rotation with a top end of 2/3 types (Berrios and Odorizzi), the Twins need Gibson to be at least solid. So who is Kyle Gibson? Is he the 2015 version who threw almost 200 innings and had an xFIP of 3.95? Is the second half of 2017 version who had a K/9 of almost 9.0 and help opposing hitters to a .379 SLG? Or is he the pitcher who struggled significantly throughout the first half of last season, to the tune of a .389 OBP against whilst surrendering 16 HR in 80 innings?

Matthew Trueblood wrote an excellent article for Baseball Prospectus when Gibson was picking up steam in the second half of 2017. He isolated four primary factors in Gibson’s breakthrough; a lower release point, moving to the middle of the rubber to combat control problems, using his legs more effectively, and an evolving pitch mix. Gibson’s velocity improved as a result, his average fastball increasing almost 1 mph from 2016.

New Twins pitching coach Garvin Alston is one of the most fascinating stories not to be talked about this offseason. Minnesota owe much of their 2017 success to then new hitting coach James Rowson. Throughout the season when the Twins young hitters made breakthroughs, Rowson continued to emphasize one central tenet of his coaching; the swing belongs to the hitter, they must own it and feel empowered to tweak it. When introduced to Twin Cities’ media, Alston emphasized his own central teaching:

‘First, one of the biggest things I teach is commanding the zone with the fastball’.

Consider then, Gibson’s fastball command from the first half of 2017 to the second half. Comparing Gibson’s fastball location from the first half of his season to the second, he clusters his strike throwing with greater consistency in the portion of the zone up and away from RHH. Additionally, he more intentionally uses the opposite corner of the zone, down and in from RHH or down and away for LHH.

Gibson First half

Second half


Between April and the end of July 2017, Gibson gave up a .300 BAA with his fastball, a SLG of .640, and .340 ISO. Over the same period of time, he gave up .342 BAA on his sinker. After tweaking his pitch mix, Gibson’s results improved dramatically. Throughout the rest of the season, his gave up a .529 SLG, and .193 ISO on his fastball. It was still being hit, but much less hard. Similarly, he gave up a .267 BAA on his sinker. This makes a ton of sense. Gibson has always been a sinker ball pitcher, known for keeping the ball down in the zone. It doesn’t take a ton of research for good hitter to be able to pick up on his location tendencies when his mix was so predictable. By using more of the zone and varying his fastball and sinkerball usage, Gibson induced more groundballs, increased his strikeout rate, and most important for a pitcher without a real plus pitch, reduced hard contact.

Gibson’s fastball command and usage had a significant impact on hitters. Opposing hitters O-Swing % (the amount opposing hitters swing at a pitch outside the strike zone) increased from 18% to over 25%. Additionally, Gibson was able to generate more swings inside the zone with his fastball increasing that number 18% to 61%, a career high. In other words, if your stuff isn’t outstanding, you better to be able to keep hitters off balance by moving it around in the zone, or command the strike zone, as Alston would call it. It will be fascinating to see if Alston can further leverage this improvement Gibson made in the second half of 2017 for a successful 2018.

Gibson is likely going to continue to make adjustments to stay ahead of the curve in keeping hitters off-balance. Ultimately, the construction of the Twins’ off-season speaks to Falvine’s understanding of that they have on their roster, and what they don’t have. The Twins now have several intriguing back end bullpen options between Trevor Hildenberger, Zach Duke, Fernando Rodney, and Addison Reed. The pen is much more likely to be able to bail out a bad start than in 2017. If Gibson can continue to tweak his approach and forms and effective partnership with Alston, the Twins may find themselves with a fourth starting pitcher who gives them more consistent innings and can pitch deeper into games. How do you think Kyle Gibson will perform for the Twins in 2018? Do you think he will establish himself as a consistent middle of the rotation starter? Or will he continue to have varied and inconsistent results?

  • gil4, rogrulz30, Tom Froemming and 1 other like this



Still do not have much hope here.Gibson has had stretches where he seems to do well followed by a year or two of hopelessness.He has to be in the rotation to start, but I would have him on a short leash.If he does not figure it out early this year, he could be a mid season release candidate.

    • rogrulz30, Danchat, DocBauer and 1 other like this
Photo
Parker Hageman
Feb 19 2018 10:47 AM

Excellent write-up. 

 

I also want to stress how good Gibson's slider was last year.

 

    • gil4, rogrulz30, Hosken Bombo Disco and 2 others like this

If you look up meh in the dictionary, Gibson's picture appears. He is an entity that leaves you feeling meh. He is a nice guy, so it's hard not to like him as a person and maybe get the benefit of all the doubts. As a pitcher, he throws hard enough and has good movement so you wonder why he doesn't succeed. He must lead MLB in crooked numbers as he seems to either get shelled in the first inning and then settles down (albeit too late) or he puts up goose eggs for a few innings only to hit the sweet spot of every bat in one very bad inning.

 

I was happy he lost his arbitration case. Hopefully it made him hungrier as this has to be his "good results or goodbye" season.

Photo
Jamie Cameron
Feb 19 2018 03:07 PM

Definitely understand the lack of enthusiasm. I tend to think this year will be interesting as the second half of 2017 was the first time he changed his MO as a pitcher. Showing he can adapt hopefully means he can do so if necessary.

Still do not have much hope here.Gibson has had stretches where he seems to do well followed by a year or two of hopelessness.He has to be in the rotation to start, but I would have him on a short leash.If he does not figure it out early this year, he could be a mid season release candidate.

 

Photo
Jamie Cameron
Feb 19 2018 03:09 PM

Thanks for reading, Parker!

 

Great point about the slider. Gibson with something approaching an out pitch is definitely a different ceiling than the Gibson we are used to. 

 

Excellent write-up. 

 

I also want to stress how good Gibson's slider was last year.

 

 

Photo
diehardtwinsfan
Feb 19 2018 04:49 PM

great article. Hope it gets moved to the front page. 

    • Jamie Cameron likes this

 

Thanks for reading, Parker!

 

Great point about the slider. Gibson with something approaching an out pitch is definitely a different ceiling than the Gibson we are used to. 

I'm more optimistic about Gibson than I ever have been in the past. That may be a bit of damning with faint praise, but I also think he might have made some changes that can lead to sustained success. That bit about the slider is encouraging as well. Hopefully he doesn't forget how to do everything that works like he and Buxton seem to do in the off-season.

    • Jamie Cameron likes this
I am an eternal optimist by nature. Usually works out, but also been burned a few times. (Still rather be that than a pessimist). A couple things really fill me with hope for Gibson going forward though:

1] He changed everything from his training regime to tweaks in his delivery and preparation to some of his mechanics. That has to take some time to see results. (His second half).

2] He was bounced to the minors a couple times. He was "politely" chastised, publicly, on the mound in a game against Seattle where he was spotted a big lead. He seemed to come back up, and spoke about, a different attitude.

3] His second half numbers, as talked about here, might be a half season, but I'm not sure they can be called SSS considering past flashes and the other points made here.

I'm actually really excited, with some guarded optimism, to what and who he is this season.
    • Jamie Cameron likes this

I like Gibson. I have high hopes for Gibson.  I am very suspicious of his start in 2018.  Will he be able to start up the way he ended 2017 ?  I doubt it.

 

Gibson seems to have to re-learn how to pitch each season.  The Twins have to throw Gibson onto the mound every 5 days and live with the results.  I doubt the results will be consistent until June.  We can hope for better, but we shouldn't expect it.  :)

    • Jamie Cameron likes this
Photo
Jamie Cameron
Feb 20 2018 08:26 AM

Thanks for reading!

 

great article. Hope it gets moved to the front page. 

 

Photo
Jamie Cameron
Feb 20 2018 08:27 AM

These are all great points that I wish I had included in this piece lol!

I am an eternal optimist by nature. Usually works out, but also been burned a few times. (Still rather be that than a pessimist). A couple things really fill me with hope for Gibson going forward though:

1] He changed everything from his training regime to tweaks in his delivery and preparation to some of his mechanics. That has to take some time to see results. (His second half).

2] He was bounced to the minors a couple times. He was "politely" chastised, publicly, on the mound in a game against Seattle where he was spotted a big lead. He seemed to come back up, and spoke about, a different attitude.

3] His second half numbers, as talked about here, might be a half season, but I'm not sure they can be called SSS considering past flashes and the other points made here.

I'm actually really excited, with some guarded optimism, to what and who he is this season.