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  • Comparing Strasburg and Gibson; What to Do?


    This morning, Nationals manager Davey Johnson told hard-throwing All Star right-hander Stephen Strasburg that he is being shut down. He then blamed his struggles on the media attention that the team's decision has drawn.

    Strasburg had his Tommy John surgery almost exactly one year to the day before Twins prospect Kyle Gibson had his Tommy John surgery. There have been many similarities between their recoveries. So, how should the Twins handle Kyle Gibson and his workload in 2013?
    Strasburg had his surgery the first week of September 2010. Gibson had his surgery the first week of September 2011.

    Gibson threw his first bullpen off of a mound in early June 2012. He spent 30 days rehabbing with the GCL Twins before pitching briefly with the Ft Myers Miracle and the Rochester Red Wings. In total, he worked 28.1 minor league innings.

    In 2011, Strasburg made four minor league starts. He thew 20.1 innings four four different Nationals affiliates. He ended the season by making five starts for the Nationals. In total, he threw 44.1 innings.

    Gibson is going to represent the Twins in the Arizona Fall League in October and November where he could pitch as many as 25-30 more innings. Last year, Cole De Vries was second on the Mesa Solar Sox with 26.0 innings pitched. Terry Doyle led the team with 27.1 innings. Each of them made eight starts. In other words, Gibson could throw as many as 55 innings in 2012.

    The Nationals very publicly announced that they would be limiting Strasburg's innings in 2012 to 180 or less. That meant he would be shut down in September and he would miss the playoffs. The Nationals have a solid starting rotation including Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler. They can place veteran John Lannan in his place. But to lose on of baseball's best pitchers for the playoffs, when he is still healthy, understandably has created a firestorm of controversy the last couple of months. Everyone has an opinion.

    So, what do you think? More importantly for Twins fans, what does it mean for Kyle Gibson and his 2013 season?

    Again, everyone has an opinion, but here are some of the options (in no particularly order):


    • No Innings Limit - Gibson will go to spring training with the Twins, compete for a big league rotation spot, and regardless of where he goes, he will pitch with no discussion of innings.
    • 160-180 Inning Limit - Same as the Nationals
      • Same as Strasburg - Just work his innings until he hits the limit. Will the Twins be competing in September? If not, shut him down then.
      • Miss Starts early - Gibson can go to spring training, but don't let him pitch in a game until May. In April, he could get 4-5 starts and pitch 20-28 innings.
      • Put him on the DL or Skip Starts - once or twice a year he could be put on the 15 day DL to miss 4-6 starts through the year.


    Obviously, there are other options or less innings.

    What do you think? How should the Twins handle next season with Kyle Gibson?

    One thing that I hope does happen is that the Twins and Gibson and his agents (and, GULP, the Twins medical staff!) and all involved talk it through and everyone is on the same page.

    Feel free to discuss.
    This article was originally published in blog: Comparing Strasburg and Gibson; What to Do? started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 37 Comments
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      +1 for Same as Strasburg
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by greengoblinrulz View Post
      on ESPN Boros is talkin about info he & team have on young pitchers & the innings they pitch at early ages. He cites clients Alex Fernandez/Steve Avery as 2 players who's arm didnt recover from early 20s abuse & why they need to limit innings (prolonging paychecks for him, of course).
      Found it funny that he didnt use another one of his clients, Greg Maddux, who debuted at age 20, pitched 5000 innings & never had an arm problem.
      There is nothing that you can do to limit arm problems.....most will get em, some wont. No doctor alive can predict who will/wont & when
      Greg Maddux, Cole DeVries, and Luis Perdomo are all listed as the same size and throw right handed. They all throw the same baseball with very different results. If someone knew the why of it they could make a lot of money being a coach.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      Boros is all about the money. Don't care about winning.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      The Twins philosophy has always been conservative. They don't rush their players through the minors. They keep their pitchers on a 100 pitch count. I would expect the same with Kyle Gibson. We will all be counting innings in 2013.

      To that end, would anyone here be DISAPPOINTED if Gibson ends up throwing 160 innings for the parent club in 2013?
    1. Buck Nasty's Avatar
      Buck Nasty -
      I don't know.....you can't really put it on the player to say if he's pitching or not. That's why you pay your medical staff. Players are an investment beyond one season. There should be some sort of plan in place to limit the risk of injuries. My advice....The Nats should ask the Twins medical staff what they'd do and then do the exact opposite.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      if the Twins want to limit Gibson's innings (which isn't a bad idea I'd add), it would be wise to shut him down the first month of spring training, then build up his strength in EST and send him to Rochester... that way he can finish out the season normally.
    1. notoriousgod71's Avatar
      notoriousgod71 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Twins Twerp View Post
      I heard Burt Blylevin on ESPN earlier this season blasting the Nationals and MLB in general about how much these kids (major league pitchers) are getting babied in the minors. He hypothesizes that these kids should be put into a 4 man rotation to build their arm strength up. Maybe that is what we should do with our other pitchers in the minors. Obviously, the guys coming off TJ surgery wouldn't go through this, but it is some food for thought.
      As long as it's not a 4 man rotation with a 75 pitch count per day.

      Having watched that Kaat video the most distressing thing was to hear Boras try to take claim of "putting this team together".
    1. notoriousgod71's Avatar
      notoriousgod71 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      Regardless of how this is spun, the Nationals messed up their handling of Strasburg. The team with the best record is shutting down arguably one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball in the middle of September. That's the reality.

      I would like to see the Twins bring him along slowly (start in Rochester on a strict innings/pitch limit until the middle of May). He should come to Minnesota with about 40 innings under his belt. Then I would like to see the Twins pencil him in every Friday night for the rest of the season. That's about 20 weeks and about 100 more innings pitched, maybe less.

      I realize this messes up a traditional rotation, but the Twins aren't in a position to jog five starters out all year and call it good anyway. They'll juggle just like they did this year. What's it matter if you add another ball in the air?
      So you want him to pitch less than five innings per start?
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      I don't think anyone has any scientific evidence when they talk about post-TJ workloads. Can anyone even name a pitcher that needed Tommy John twice? There are a few rare exceptions, but it's not like these guys are having surgery and then having the procedure failing on them 2 yrs later. It almost doesn't happen.

      Still, this is a non-issue for the Twins next year because I would be fairly surprised if we're in a pennant race AND Gibson is a big reason we're in it.

      People forget that the Nationals WERE babying Strasburg's arm before he got hurt, and it still happened. I'm not a big fan of 100+ pitch counts on a regular basis, but there does come a point where healthy pitchers just need to pitch. But if there's nothing for the team to gain in 2013, sure, limit his innings if it makes you feel better.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      I wish I could find the link--but with all the commentary on Strasberg--there is one person who should know. That is somebody who was abused and overworked and lost a long career--like a Steve Avery mentioned above. A month ago I read an interview with the Os version of Strasberg 15 or 20 years ago--Ben McDonald--he was as hyped then as Strasberg is now. He said--no choice--Strasberg has to be shut down--no questions asked--he wishes the Os had done it for him all those years ago. Again I wish I could find the link.

      I think the Twins need to be careful with Gibson--yes 160IP max between majors and minors--keep him in AAA till mid may--pitch him here in June (assuming he is ready)--DL him in July around the AS break (the Nats should have done that with Strasberg)--pitch him here from July 20--till he reaches 160IP total. He will have a long career--the Twins will be contending (hopefully) in 2014 and he should be ready to go...
    1. Dilligaf69's Avatar
      Dilligaf69 -
      I just think you wait and see... . See how he gets thru AFL and what he looks like in ST. Maybe keep him in extended ST til the weather warms up but I don't think any specific pitch limit should be thrown out there just yet, way too early right now. I don't see him throwing 200 innigs obviously but once a week as someone suggested makes NO sense for anybody.
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      Is this really going to be an issue? What are the odds he gets beyond 180 innings even without a limit?
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      I think it's pretty simple. start Gibson slowly in spring training and then hold him back in instructionals for a few weeks before sending him to AAA. I don't know exactly what the Braves did with Medlen this year but it looks like it is working. If the Twins did bring back Baker then I would do the same. It might be a rough start to the season but the Twins could have a halfway decent rotation by the end of the season.

      Conveniently it would delay his FA by one year and possibly super 2.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by StormJH1 View Post
      I don't think anyone has any scientific evidence when they talk about post-TJ workloads. Can anyone even name a pitcher that needed Tommy John twice? There are a few rare exceptions, but it's not like these guys are having surgery and then having the procedure failing on them 2 yrs later. It almost doesn't happen.

      Still, this is a non-issue for the Twins next year because I would be fairly surprised if we're in a pennant race AND Gibson is a big reason we're in it.

      People forget that the Nationals WERE babying Strasburg's arm before he got hurt, and it still happened. I'm not a big fan of 100+ pitch counts on a regular basis, but there does come a point where healthy pitchers just need to pitch. But if there's nothing for the team to gain in 2013, sure, limit his innings if it makes you feel better.

      Brian Wilson.

      But you're absolutely correct on the rest of it (and honestly, I was just showing off that I could name someone). There is no science that supports these one-size-fits-all policies on pitchers. Every human is unique. Pitchers should attune themselves to their own bodies and communicate with their managers. It should be their responsibility and no one else's. Likewise, there is no way of knowing whether a Steve Avery type wouldn't have broken down at the same time (or even earlier!) if he had been shut down when younger.

      Thinking probabalistically, we have to acknowledge that mistakes are made before we judge the outcomes. Shutting pitchers down on a one-size-fits-all system is a mistake. For those pitchers who don't break down, it likely had nothing to do with the workload. For those who do break down, it likely had nothing to do with the workload. People are discounting things like pitching mechanics, frame size, arm strength, genetic proclivities towards ligament strength or weakness, and most importantly of all, blind luck.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      I agree that the one-size-fits-all approach is not optimal for managing a pitcher's workload. Things like 100 pitch counts, no more than 20% IP workload increase per year, etc. still don't seem to be working well enough for any team, let alone the Twins or the Nationals.

      I think the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of protecting pitchers to the point where limiting how and when they pitch, and what pitches they throw can backfire. If you condition a pitcher to throw less and fewer innings then it's possible that their bodies aren't prepared for and can't handle the overexertion that occurs on the mound all the time and frequently with each pitch.

      As for Gibson, if he's going to pitch a certain number of innings then I'd just as soon have him start with the big club if he shows he's ready. I wouldn't have him pitch over the offseason at all.
    1. Jack Torse's Avatar
      Jack Torse -
      First lets see if he can get MLB hitters out and then worry about his innings. He's going to be 25 so its about time to get on with it. The Twins starters are terrible and they aren't likely to contend in 2013. If he's healthy and can't make this team as a starter out of ST you have to wonder. He has had a decent statistical minor league track record but not anything too mind blowing.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      i don't think that any comparison is really valid with strasburg. dates of the year. ok. so they both had the same type of surgery. so i ride a motor cycle. that doesn't make me comparable to all the others that ride. and to think the twins took gibson.......... and could have taken mike trout.
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