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Back End of the Rotation Battle--Duffey, Milone, Nolasco

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#1 stringer bell

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 12:18 PM

The Twins have all but guaranteed that the top three starters to begin the season are Ervin Santana, Phil Hughes, and Kyle Gibson. Three viable candidates remain for the final two rotation spots to start the season. Each has factors in their favor and each has deficiencies that might put him in the bullpen or the minors.

 

Tommy Milone-Milone finished 2015 in the rotation after earlier being sent to the minors and also missing time with minor arm issues. He finished the season with a 9-5 record and a 3.92 ERA. Milone would be classified as a young veteran-he's 29 and has logged 619 innings in just under four years of service time. He is a lefty, the only southpaw competing for a spot in the rotation. Tommy is not known as overpowering, featuring a <90 mph fastball and no dominating pitches. Milone can't be classified as durable, exceeding 160 innings only once in his career and he has only two complete games, the last in 2013. Milone fanned 6.4 per 9 innings in 2015, in line with his lifetime rate of 6.5 per nine. Milone has always achieved better results than his peripherals, compiling a lifetime 3.97 ERA despite a lifetime 4.23 ERA and having a better ERA than FIP every year since his cup of coffee with Washington in 2011.

 

Tyler Duffey-Duffey also finished 2015 in the rotation after a nice run in Rochester. He was very impressive in his debut season for the Twins, going 5-1 with a 3.10 ERA, fanning 8.2 per nine innings. Duffey features a couple of different curve balls that mystified hitters in his rather brief stint with the Twins last year. Duffey is 25 and was a relief pitcher in college. There is a possibility that hitters will catch up with Duffey in a full season, especially since he doesn't throw terribly hard. Duffey has options remaining and could be sent to Rochester without risk of being lost to another team.

 

Ricky Nolasco-No pitcher the Twins have had since Ron Davis has done more to be poorly regarded by the home fans than Ricky Nolasco. He came to the Twins with a reputation of being a solid mid-rotation starter who would log plenty of innings and he came with a big paycheck-over $12M per year. In his first two years with the club, he hasn't earned his paycheck, not even close. He's only pitched 196 innings and hasn't been effective-an 11-14 log with a bloated 5.64 ERA. Nolasco has whiffed 6.9 per nine with the Twins, in line with his 7.3 per nine average. Ricky has two years remaining on his big contract and is 33 years old. Significantly, in Nolasco's career, his achievements don't come close to his peripherals. He has a lifetime 3.81 FIP, but a lifetime 4.54 ERA. As a Twin, the difference is even more dramatic (4.15 FIP vs 5.64 ERA).

 

IMHO, at some point FIP loses it's luster as a predictor of performance and I think that is the case for both Nolasco and Milone. Milone will most likely exceed his peripherals and Nolasco will not. Milone has performed better more recently, is younger and is a lefty. In my book, he wins out for sure over Nolasco. Milone should be and probably will be the #4 starter.

 

Nolasco vs. Duffey is a bit tougher to call. Duffery ML experience is limited, he does have both bullpen experience and options remaining. Nolasco has a decent history plus that contract. Both Duffey and Nolasco have had a bad outing in Ft. Myers, while pitching better in their other appearances. I would predict that Nolasco is given a spot in the rotation and that Duffey is either optioned or sent to Rochester. I think Duffey should get that spot with Nolasco in the bullpen as a starter-in-waiting.


#2 Willihammer

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 12:37 PM

3 reasons I'd like to see Nolasco in the pen-

1. I doubt he's a better starter than Duffey at this point

2. I doubt his body is up to the task of 30+ starts anymore

3. To get him going.

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#3 Willihammer

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 12:42 PM

Milone is a lock. TR has said he wants a lefthanded starter for "balance," and considers MIlone's lefthandedness to be a factor in the competition. Also, Milone's pitched well, so there's that.

Well, there's that.

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#4 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 01:01 PM

IMHO, at some point FIP loses it's luster as a predictor of performance and I think that is the case for both Nolasco and Milone. Milone will most likely exceed his peripherals and Nolasco will not. Milone has performed better more recently, is younger and is a lefty. In my book, he wins out for sure over Nolasco.

Agreed. Using FIP to make the case for Nolasco especially doesn't work. Nolasco's actual ERA is higher than his "fair" ERA in every season in the majors he has pitched. He pitches better on paper than when actually on the mound and if he starts again this year there's no reason to think it will be any different.

#5 Dantes929

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 01:22 PM

The way baseball goes is that Nolasco will start the season in the rotation and everyone will hate it but then he will be a contender for :Cy Young and everyone will talk about how they always liked this guy. Ok, probably won't happen but it did to some extent with Perkins and May.  I would like to see a rotation of Santana, Gibson, May, Duffey and Milone with Hughes the 8th inning guy and Nolasco long relief and Barrios the first guy on deck for the rotation with Nolasco the 2nd guy.  Liriano was sent down when struggling and so was Jesse Crain.  They both earned their way back. Its a gut check to be ready when the team needs you rather than just feeling entitled for the spot.  It could happen. Nolasco should just work hard and he will get his opportunity. Earn the respect. Being paid a lot doesn't entitle you to a spot. It imposes a responsibility to earn the money.

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#6 Rezzy

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 04:43 PM

I think this is a good take on the rotation situation. There are 5 guys, 6 including May, who have earned a starting role.

May has to go the pen because he's good at it. And then, hopefully, Nolasco gets shipped out when he voices his feelings about being moved to the pen.

#7 Twodogs

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 06:08 PM

Im a little worried about Santana making it a full season, I thought I saw somewhere where he at one point had a partial tear in his arm.I wonder if the PED's were masking that?last year he pitched about half a season, it will be interesting to see if he will make it through the whole season.If someone like that gets hurt the Twins will need all of their guys to perform at a decent clip.

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#8 stringer bell

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 06:17 PM

 

Im a little worried about Santana making it a full season, I thought I saw somewhere where he at one point had a partial tear in his arm.I wonder if the PED's were masking that?last year he pitched about half a season, it will be interesting to see if he will make it through the whole season.If someone like that gets hurt the Twins will need all of their guys to perform at a decent clip.

Common knowledge that Santana has pitched several years with a torn UCL. It is a valid question whether Ervin without PEDs can pitch effectively for an entire season.


#9 nytwinsfan

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 09:01 PM

It is widely acknowledged, both by Duffey and the Twins, that Duffey is tinkering with his changeup. As long as the Twins don't see any problems with his fastballs and curveball, it would take a hell of a performance by both Milone and Nolasco for the Twins not to keep him as a starter. As it should. That has not happened, certainly not from Nolasco. I really don't understand how anyone can think Duffey will not or should not be one of the starting 5. Right now, it will by Duffey and Milone. I think it is extremely unlikely to change, and would give someone really good odds on that being the case.

Edited by nytwinsfan, 20 March 2016 - 09:02 PM.

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#10 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 09:44 PM

Like it or not, Nolasco is being paid 12M to play for the Twins, so I suspect, baring a collapse, that he beats Duffey. 


#11 jorgenswest

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 10:01 PM

It might make sense to give Nolasco the start of the season and see if he can perform close to league average. They should expect to need at least 7 starters with 8 or more starts. It helps if Nolasco is one of them with Duffey and Berrios ready at AAA when injuries strike.

#12 FormerMinnasotan

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 10:14 PM

I don't understand why the Twins didn't really give Berrios more of a chance to compete for a rotation spot now. I get starting his clock early, ect. But if you look at Berrios' career he initially struggles once he makes a jump from one level to another. If Berrios started with the club now, by the stretch run he probably would be caught up to speed with big league hitters and once again looking like the Jose Berrios we call have heard about by MLB scouts. I guess I see Berrios as good if not better than Tyler Duffey, it's just the FO and the Twins staff didn't have any plans to start him with the team even though he is the most legit pitching prospect we have right now. He's already dominated AAA, there is nothing more he can learn there anyway.
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#13 Champuckett

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 11:48 PM

I like the idea of starting Nolasco in the pen, with incentive to earn his way to the starting rotation.  He thinks he is the real deal, prove it tough guy.  It sort of did temporary wonders for Pelfrey as he seemed to have a fire lit under his behind for the first half of 2015.  Nolasco seems to be an even hotter head than Pelfrey, so maybe this will fire him up to give him something he hasn't had since joining our team: motivation.

 

Since it's only my wish for that to happen, it's likely he ends up as the 5th starter due to paycheck priorities.  I don't think the Twins have enough of a spine to demote a whiny brat down to the bullpen, that has done nothing positive for this team since joining, but I guess we'll have to wait and see.


#14 DaveW

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 07:56 AM

Like it or not, Nolasco is being paid 12M to play for the Twins, so I suspect, baring a collapse, that he beats Duffey.

Then have him "play" in the bullpen.

Starting Nolasco over Duffey will more than likely cost the Twins victories. Who gives a **** what his salary is. The goal is to win games, or at least it is supposed to be the goal.
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#15 nytwinsfan

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 08:02 AM

 

Like it or not, Nolasco is being paid 12M to play for the Twins, so I suspect, baring a collapse, that he beats Duffey.

 

You are wrong. Just listen to Rob Antony and Paul Molitor. They are clearly indicating that barring something dramatic, Duffey is going to be in the rotation. And thank goodness for that.

Edited by nytwinsfan, 21 March 2016 - 08:03 AM.


#16 spycake

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 08:25 AM

 

You are wrong. Just listen to Rob Antony and Paul Molitor. They are clearly indicating that barring something dramatic, Duffey is going to be in the rotation. And thank goodness for that.

I don't know if it's that clear.  Molitor's comments were before spring training started, and could have been geared to calm Duffey for the competition.  And this is from the Rob Antony interview at Twinkie Town the other day:

 

 

 

Ricky is still in the mix for the rotation. Paul talked about Tyler Duffey early in the spring, he believes that off of what he did last year, he kind of had him pencilled in. And I would say he’s in the mix with Ricky for that other starting spot. I don’t think it’s locked in and nothing’s been given to him. Paul just said that “All things being equal right now, I would expect Tyler to be part of the rotation.”

So, Ricky has pitched well this spring. Duffey has pitched well and struggled, but you can’t get too carried away with spring training because, in particular, Duffey’s throwing a lot more changeups

 

 

In the same interview, Jesse Lund said TR all but confirmed Milone will be the 5th starter during a recent TV broadcast.  So if there is still any kind of legit rotation competition going on, it's between Nolasco and Duffey.

 

Maybe they are just delaying the inevitable with Nolasco, in case another starter gets injured in the next week or two, but I don't think Duffey's performance and track record have his spot safe quite yet.


#17 Blackjack

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 08:55 AM

 

Right now, it will by Duffey and Milone. I think it is extremely unlikely to change, and would give someone really good odds on that being the case.

What kind of odds would you give me??I'd bet you even up that it will be Nolasco in the rotation. Right or wrong there is that $12 million dollar salary and Duffy having an option. 


#18 nytwinsfan

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 08:58 AM

 

What kind of odds would you give me??I'd bet you even up that it will be Nolasco in the rotation. Right or wrong there is that $12 million dollar salary and Duffy having an option. 

I'd give you 5 to 1 odds. That's how sure I am it will be Duffey. And some chunk of that is if Duffey gets injured (knock on wood that doesn't happen).

Edited by nytwinsfan, 21 March 2016 - 08:59 AM.


#19 Willihammer

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 09:41 AM

 

I'd give you 5 to 1 odds. That's how sure I am it will be Duffey. And some chunk of that is if Duffey gets injured (knock on wood that doesn't happen).

Can I get in on this?

 

At 5/1 I'll bet you 5 baseballs.

I could use a fresh bucket of balls.

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Well, there's that.

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#20 nytwinsfan

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 09:48 AM

 

Can I get in on this?

 

At 5/1 I'll bet you 5 baseballs.

I could use a fresh bucket of balls.

Sure.

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