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  • Twins Take a Hard Turn With Deduno

    Even before his three-hit shutout on Sunday, I felt that the time had come to promote Kyle Gibson to the major leagues. The Twins seemingly positioned themselves to do so Monday when they announced the removal of Pedro Hernandez from the rotation, opening up Friday's start. But on Tuesday the club ended any such speculation by informing us that Samuel Deduno will be the one to get the nod.

    Even as a confirmed Gibsonite, I can't feign to be overly upset with this move. Because more than I wanted to see the top prospect get a chance, I wanted to simply see the Twins make some sort of change to their stagnating formula. Deduno qualifies in a major way; a step in the exact opposite direction.

    The trademark of Minnesota's rotation was obvious before the season began. This was a group that was going to throw the ball over the plate and allow tons of contact.

    Certainly the starting corps has lived up that expectation, as they've allowed fewer walks than all but one AL team and they rank last in strikeouts by a country mile. Unsurprisingly, this staff makeup has yielded terrible results, as Twins starters have recorded the second-worst ERA in the majors at 5.42. Last year the rotation finished with a 5.40 ERA. The bar was set incredibly low and they've still come up short.

    For the first six weeks of the season, the Twins managed to stay afloat in spite of their shortcomings, thanks in large part to some timely hitting and sterling efforts from the bullpen. But recently, with other units beginning to falter, the rotation's warts have become more exposed as the season has quickly begun to spiral out of control. The Twins have lost seven straight and are in the early stages of their toughest stretch to date; 15 of 20 games on the road, including trips to Atlanta, Detroit and Washington.

    Change was long overdue, and Hernandez in the rotation was a logical starting point given that he probably shouldn't have been starting in the majors to begin with. While Gibson would have been my first choice, Deduno was the next one on my list.

    The 29-year-old Dominican has intrigued me since last season, when he came up and enjoyed a run of success for the Twins. Since then, he has made a name for himself by helping carry his native country to an impressive title run in the World Baseball Classic.

    I'll admit that perhaps I overrate the significance of this event because I was watching it live and was riveted, but in my mind Deduno's performance in that tournament's championship game earned him an extended shot. Pitching against a potent lineup, in the pouring rain, in a game that mattered immensely to him and his teammates, the erratic yet effective righty delivered five dominant innings, standing out in a 3-0 victory.

    A groin injury suffered while toughing out those conditions sidelined Deduno and cost him his chance at an Opening Day roster spot with the Twins, but since returning to the field he's been back to his old tricks. In three starts at Rochester, he's posted a 2.70 ERA despite issuing 10 walks in a 16 2/3 innings.

    In the past I've likened Deduno, whose pitches dart to different locations seemingly at random, to knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Both are unconventional pitchers with unique styles. Dickey didn't hit his stride until his mid-30's, so I like the decision to try Deduno, who turns 30 in a month, and see if he might prove to be a late bloomer. Certainly there have been positive signs to that end over the past year.

    And in any case, it's nice to see the Twins take such a hard turn from their previous path. The pitchers that have comprised their rotation up to this point – Vance Worley, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Correia, Scott Diamond, Liam Hendriks and Pedro Hernandez – have obviously enjoyed varying levels of success but have been virtually indistinguishable in approach. Change speeds, try to hit your spots, hope for the best.

    Deduno couldn't be farther on the other end of the spectrum. He unleashes electric heaters and breaking balls that essentially have minds of their own and end up who-knows-where. The result is very many walks and very little hard contact. When he's going good, he can be nearly unhittable.

    Even if that "unhittable" comes with a considerable caveat, it's still a welcome term for this starting staff.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Take a Hard Turn With Deduno started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 39 Comments
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Quote Originally Posted by jun View Post
      Deduno should be up first. He has been more consistent than Gibson. He had some success last season. He has been dominant in WBC against best hitters in the world. His weakness is that he is not as efficient and he could not pitch deep into the game. Gibson should be the next to be called up if he could be more consistent. Walters and Albers should also get their chance.
      Absolutely right--when Gibson throws back-to-back quality starts (which he has NOT done this year) he should be called up. While most people here think that Gibson is our next ace, I dont, I think he is our next Kyle Lohse who will give us a good game then a horrid one.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson View Post
      Career K% for the following:

      Vance Worley - 18.5%
      Sam Deduno - 17%
      Kevin Correia - 15.1%
      Mike Pelfrey - 12.7%
      League Average in 2013 - 20.0%

      Deduno is hardly a strikeout pitcher and the only reason he doesn't qualify as a "pitch-to-contact" pitcher is because he walks so many batters.
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Career opponents' batting average / slugging:

      Worley - .280 / .424
      Deduno - .248 / .399
      Correia - .273 / .430
      Pelfrey - .287 / .419
      League average in 2013 - .255 / .413

      Deduno may not be a pure strikeout pitcher but he's legitimately tough to hit, and that's been true everywhere -- minors/majors/whatever. He might pitch to contact when he's not issuing walks but he doesn't pitch to hard contact. In contrast to the current suspects, that intrigues me. I also suspect he'll be above his career K-rate this year if he keeps throwing the way he has been.
      Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson View Post
      Career innings pitched:

      Worley - 322.2
      Deduno - 84.2
      Correia - 1123.2
      Pelfrey - 936.2
      So the small sample size arguement only applies to people countering your point?

      He is a strikeout pitcher, his minor league numbers show that. Unlike the the other starters, he can miss bats, so if he can start getting the 3-2 pitch over the plate his K% will go up. The other Twins arms don't have the ability to miss bats, and there generally isn't a solution for that. In other words, Deduno can improve on his K%, the othes cannot.

      Besides, I'd take a walk over a hit any day. Runners don't advance as far.
    1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
      Brad Swanson -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      So the small sample size arguement only applies to people countering your point?

      He is a strikeout pitcher, his minor league numbers show that. Unlike the the other starters, he can miss bats, so if he can start getting the 3-2 pitch over the plate his K% will go up. The other Twins arms don't have the ability to miss bats, and there generally isn't a solution for that. In other words, Deduno can improve on his K%, the othes cannot.

      Besides, I'd take a walk over a hit any day. Runners don't advance as far.
      That is an absolutely fair point. You are right, he has a K/9 over 9 in 800 career minor league innings. To me, the second number says a lot more about Deduno than the first.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson View Post
      At AAA this season:

      Start 1 - 5.1 innings - 4 Ks, 4 BB, 5 hits, 0 ER, 100 pitches
      Start 2 - 5.2 innings - 5 Ks, 4 BB, 4 hits, 1 ER, 99 pitches
      Start 3 - 6.1 innings - 8 Ks, 2 BB, 5 hits, 4 ER, 93 pitches

      He had little to no success last season:

      6.5 K/9
      6.0 BB/9
      4.44 ERA, 1.544 WHIP
      15 starts - 79 innings

      The WBC was an exhibition and he made three starts, totaling 13 innings.
      Of the 14 hits he allowed in those three Triple-A starts, 12 were singles. Deduno will allow base runners but by and large they only get to first base.

      Pointing out his high pitch counts is a valid point, but that's just a part of his game, and not one that differentiates him much from the current group. It took Hernandez like 100 pitches to get through four innings in his last start. Pelfrey is pretty much good for 20 pitches/inning. The difference is that Deduno might actually be effective while using all those pitches.

      As for Gibson, he's had his issues with efficiency as well, and in his case it's more of a problem because the Twins will be far less willing to let him run up high pitch counts than a guy like Deduno.

      Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson View Post
      I don't really have a problem with anyone being excited for Deduno. The argument that he was a better choice than Gibson doesn't make sense to me. And I do realize that Gibson's hasn't thrown an inning yet. Personally, I'd rather watch Gibson pitch on Friday.
      No disagreement there, but for whatever reason -- whether it's consistency, service time or whatever -- the Twins aren't ready to give Gibson a shot. If it's not going to be him, Deduno is the best choice.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson View Post
      That is an absolutely fair point. You are right, he has a K/9 over 9 in 800 career minor league innings. To me, the second number says a lot more about Deduno than the first.
      I like guys that can acknowledge other posts that counter their arguments. Nicely done.
    1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
      Brad Swanson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post

      No disagreement there, but for whatever reason -- whether it's consistency, service time or whatever -- the Twins aren't ready to give Gibson a shot. If it's not going to be him, Deduno is the best choice.
      This is also true. I certainly prefer Deduno to De Vries or Hernandez. If Deduno can harness his stuff, I'll gladly admit that I was wrong.
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      I'm excited to watch Deduno. I got my wish. I can wait for Gibson. It won't be long before his turn is up, but I feel like Deduno has paid enough dues and had enough success that he deserves a shot -and, holy moly, I do enjoy watching his crazy starts.
      My favorite blogger disagrees with me, but he's living in a world where Scott Diamond is carried off the field after each victory, so we can agree to disagree. You'll get your wish soon enough, Brad.
    1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
      Brad Swanson -
      Quote Originally Posted by PopRiveter View Post
      I'm excited to watch Deduno. I got my wish. I can wait for Gibson. It won't be long before his turn is up, but I feel like Deduno has paid enough dues and had enough success that he deserves a shot -and, holy moly, I do enjoy watching his crazy starts.
      My favorite blogger disagrees with me, but he's living in a world where Scott Diamond is carried off the field after each victory, so we can agree to disagree. You'll get your wish soon enough, Brad.
      I tell you what, if Deduno proves me wrong (and I really do hope he does, I am a fan of the Twins at heart), then I will run out and carry him off the field. Someone will just need to kindly bail me out of jail.
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      As I read through this thread, I see some parallels (imperfect to be sure) between comments about Gibson and the whole debate we had on Liriano last year. Both have/had the potential to be the best starter in the rotation. But in both cases consistency was an issue.

      As a general rule, I prefer a pitcher who is perhaps a less electric but more consistent - that's why I thought it was a good thing to dump off Liriano last year and was glad to get anything for him. That's also why I would feel a lot more comfortable in promoting Gibson now if there was a little more consistency. Here are Gibson's starts this year -

      4/5 - 5.0ip, 1ER
      4/11 - 4.1ip, 5ER
      4/16 - 6.0ip, 1ER
      4/21 - 5.0ip, 3ER
      4/27 - 6.2ip, 0ER
      5/3 - 4.2ip, 5ER
      5/8 - 9.0ip, 0ER
      5/14 - 3.0ip, 4ER
      5/19 - 9.0ip, 0ER

      He has to be able to put at least two solid starts together before he's ready to face MLB hitters.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by jun View Post
      Walters should get Worley's spot. Albers should be the 6th starter.
      What on earth makes anyone think that Walters is going to be a better pitcher than Worley?

      The guy is three years older than Worley, has a very pedestrian minor league track record, and has a pretty spotty track record (mostly bad) in limited MLB innings.

      Worley is the only guy in the rotation who should have a lengthy leash at this point (along with Diamond, obviously). Yes, he's been bad. But he's still only 25 and has a pretty good MLB track record and he's getting completely hosed in the luck department this season.

      Replacing him with Walters solves nothing in the long-term and probably solves nothing in the short-term, to boot. It's the kind of "win 70 games NOW" move that the Twins shouldn't even consider in 2013.
    1. spideyo's Avatar
      spideyo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson View Post
      At AAA this season:

      Start 1 - 5.1 innings - 4 Ks, 4 BB, 5 hits, 0 ER, 100 pitches
      Start 2 - 5.2 innings - 5 Ks, 4 BB, 4 hits, 1 ER, 99 pitches
      Start 3 - 6.1 innings - 8 Ks, 2 BB, 5 hits, 4 ER, 93 pitches

      He had little to no success last season:

      6.5 K/9
      6.0 BB/9
      4.44 ERA, 1.544 WHIP
      15 starts - 79 innings

      The WBC was an exhibition and he made three starts, totaling 13 innings.
      Little to no success? He was second on the team in wins, third on the team in H/9 (behind only Burton an Perkins), 2nd on the team and above league average for QS%.

      His high walk rate certainly inflates a lot of the stats, but from actually watching the games, he did pretty well. Part of what makes him exciting to watch is that he defies traditional pitching logic. With his walk rate and wildness, his state "should" be a whole lot worse. For better or worse, he was either the second or third best starter last year, depending on how you feel about DeVries
    1. spideyo's Avatar
      spideyo -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      How is it rushing? If he's healthy at the start of the year, he's already on the roster. he's going to be 26 this year. How is pitching in AAA less impactful to his arm? Or are you suggesting he's not mentally ready?
      Yes, I'm suggesting he isn't mentally ready.

      As far as getting shelled by Detroit, they are leading the AL in hits, runs, BA, OPB, and 4th in SLG and TB. There is a decent chance ANY pitcher we throw out there will get shelled by Detroit.
    1. jay's Avatar
      jay -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Deduno may not be a pure strikeout pitcher but he's legitimately tough to hit, and that's been true everywhere -- minors/majors/whatever. He might pitch to contact when he's not issuing walks but he doesn't pitch to hard contact. In contrast to the current suspects, that intrigues me.
      Painful/funny part is, that's exactly how you're supposed to be able to describe those current suspects with all those sinkers and groundballs... but that sure hasn't turned out so well.
    1. mikelink45's Avatar
      mikelink45 -
      I am fascinated with this discussion. The complaint is that Gibson does not put enough good games together in consecutive starts. Look at the Twins starters - if we could get one to have a good game every other start we would consider them the team ace. Get Gibson up here, use his arm up if we need to and bridge the big gap between what we have and what we need to win.
    1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
      Brad Swanson -
      Quote Originally Posted by spideyo View Post
      Little to no success? He was second on the team in wins, third on the team in H/9 (behind only Burton an Perkins), 2nd on the team and above league average for QS%.

      His high walk rate certainly inflates a lot of the stats, but from actually watching the games, he did pretty well. Part of what makes him exciting to watch is that he defies traditional pitching logic. With his walk rate and wildness, his state "should" be a whole lot worse. For better or worse, he was either the second or third best starter last year, depending on how you feel about DeVries
      Well, I don't really care about wins because I am a stereotype, but you could make the opposite argument that his stats should be worse because of the walks but he was lucky and they will regress. I don't know which side is correct, but either option is at least equally likely right now.
    1. spideyo's Avatar
      spideyo -
      I'm just really hoping he turns out to be the next RA Dickey kind of story. A pitcher who defies conventional logic, and turns into a great pitcher far later than should ever happen
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by PopRiveter View Post
      I can wait for Gibson. It won't be long before his turn is up
      This Sunday at the pace we're going
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson View Post
      At AAA this season:

      Start 1 - 5.1 innings - 4 Ks, 4 BB, 5 hits, 0 ER, 100 pitches
      Start 2 - 5.2 innings - 5 Ks, 4 BB, 4 hits, 1 ER, 99 pitches
      Start 3 - 6.1 innings - 8 Ks, 2 BB, 5 hits, 4 ER, 93 pitches

      He had little to no success last season:

      6.5 K/9
      6.0 BB/9
      4.44 ERA, 1.544 WHIP
      15 starts - 79 innings

      The WBC was an exhibition and he made three starts, totaling 13 innings.
      I'd love to have a 4.44 ERA on the 2013 team right now.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      It will be refreshing to finally watch someone throw a pitch that spins
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