Yesterday, we reviewed the top pitching performances in June by the relief pitchers
. Today, we’ll look at the top five starting pitchers in June. There were some strong performances, though there aren’t enough to need an Honorable Mention section. June is often a month when you start seeing some pitchers tire. There is a chance that some guys who have been starting to this point will miss a start, or spend some of the second half of the season working out of the bullpen. By next month, we may have some nominees from Elizabethton and the Gulf Coast League Twins.
Southpaws are prominent in this list, which is always nice to see as. More specifically, lefties who went to the University of Kentucky are quite prominent!
One thing that isn’t very prominent… strikeouts. Here’s a list of the Top 5 pitching performers from June.
Number 5 – Ft. Myers – LHP Taylor Rogers
- 4 GS, 2-1, 3.48 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 20.2 IP, 23 H, 6 BB, 7 K
The first of three lefties from the University of Kentucky in the top five, Rogers has been terrific since his move up to the Miracle. He has made 11 appearances for the team since being promoted and is 6-2 with a 2.04 ERA. He gave up just four earned runs in his first three starts in June before giving up four earned runs in four innings in his final start. Rogers has good stuff. He throws in the low 90s, and he has a very good slider. With that combination, one would think he'd have some notable splits. While right-handers are hitting .272 against him, lefties are hitting .274. However, it’s also important to point out that against lefties, he has issued one walk with 18 strikeouts. Against (many more) right-handers, he has walked 11 while striking out 15. So, there is a difference. He was the Twins 11th round pick in 2012. Last month, he was runner-up for starter of the month.
Number 4 – Cedar Rapids – LHP Brett Lee
- 5 GS, 2-1, 3.48 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 31.0 IP, 35 H, 7 BB, 23 K
Lee was the Twins 10th round pick in 2011, out of St. Petersburg College. Last year with Elizabethton, he made four starts and twelve times came out of the bullpen. Overall, he went 4-0 with a 2.78 ERA and a 4:1 K:BB ratio. He has been in the Kernels six-man starting rotation this year. He is 5-4 with a 3.89 ERA. In 72.1 innings, he again has a 4:1 K:BB rate, with 56 strikeouts and 19 walks. He has good stuff and has been fairly consistent each month. I shouldn’t, but will, point out that in his second June start, he gave up eight runs in four innings. Without that rough start, he gave up just four earned runs in 27 innings, for an ERA of 1.33. Certainly a strong month and something he can build on as the season goes forward.
Number 3 – New Britain/Rochester – LHP Logan Darnell
- 5 GS, 2-3, 2.87 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 31.1 IP, 30 H, 7 BB, 25 K
Darnell spent most of the month of June eating a lot of innings for the Rock Cats. Really, he was just biding his time until there was an opening with the Red Wings. Gibson’s promotion meant there was a spot; Darnell made one start for the Red Wings but in the third inning he suffered a blister that could keep him out for a while. Darnell has a good mix of pitches and generally throws strikes. He won’t be a big strikeout pitcher, but he has the ability to miss some bats. The southpaw has found a way to be more efficient and eat more innings. The 24 year old was the Twins 6th round pick in 2010 from the University of Kentucky.
Number 2 – Rochester – RHP Kyle Gibson
- 4 GS, 3-0, 2.08 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 26.0 IP, 22 H, 9 BB, 20 K
It was a very good month for Gibson. He generally pitched well for the Red Wings, and when Mike Pelfrey was put on the disabled list (and after Pedro Hernandez made a spot start and was then optioned), Gibson finally received the call he has been waiting two years for. Consider: he would likely have been a big leaguer about two years ago if not for the Tommy John surgery. It’s been a long, but so far, successful recovery from the surgery for Gibson. In his first big league start, he gave up two runs in six innings. He showed that he has some Deduno-like movement on his pitches with a better idea of where they are going. He will get ground balls while striking out enough. It will be fun to watch how he now develops.
And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is:
Beloit – LHP Andrew Albers
- 6 GS, 5-1, 2.97 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 39.1 IP, 34 H, 8 BB, 31 K
Albers has probably been the best, most consistent starting pitcher for the Rochester Red Wings this season. He has seen PJ Walters, Sam Deduno and now Kyle Gibson promoted to the Twins. It hasn’t fazed him as he is now 7-3 with a 3.13 ERA in 16 starts. In 92 innings, he has walked just 24 and struck out 80. The lefty is very aggressive and likes to use his defense which makes his strikeout rate surprising, yet encouraging.
At this point, I’m certain everyone has heard the incredible story of the 27 year old from Saskatchewan. He was my choice for Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year in 2011. He has starred for Team Canada in international competition since then, including the 2013 WBC. We hope he'll get an opportunity at some point this season to pitch for the Twins.
What do you think? Please feel free to discuss and ask questions.