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Article: Jose Berrios Flashes Something Special

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#1 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 01:47 PM

In his second start of the 2017 Major League Baseball season, Jose Berrios looked like a well tested veteran for the Minnesota Twins. Not only was he taking on one of baseball's best teams in the Colorado Rockies, but he thoroughly and completely dominated them.

Sure, there was the 11 strikeouts. Yeah, he lasted into the 8th inning, working 7.2 IP. And economical, definitely, as he needed just 106 pitches to get that work in. More than the surface numbers though, Berrios' results were punctuated by some truly exceptional moments.Over the course of his outing, he got 20 swinging strikes. To put that into context, he threw 72 strikes in total. That means 28% of the pitches he threw for strikes had Rockies batters swinging right through. Truly an incredible amount, it's not all that surprising given the movement on his pitches. There was the frisbee of a curveball that he tossed to Ian Desmond. The Rockies first basemen was quoted postgame suggesting that Berrios reminded him of the late Jose Fernandez on the mound.



It wasn't just the curveball that Berrios had working though, his fastball has some seriously incredible move. In a pitch to Raimel Tapia, that turned into a strike em' out, throw em' out double play, Berrios' fastball got more movement than anything I've seen since Ubaldo Jimenez's magical season with Colorado. The ball starts on the edge of the plate, and Tapia literally has no chance as the ball casually darts away from his bat.

When looking at what it was that cause Rockies hitters to swing and miss, Berrios didn't discriminate. He was generating whiffs on three of his four pitches (excluding his changeup) and the curveball consistently was getting batters to chase way out of the zone.

Download attachment: Schwerzler_berrios_pic1.png

That bender is something Berrios is obviously confident in as well. He threw it in a handful of different counts, and the 36 curveballs he tossed accounted for 34% of his total on the night. In fact, Berrios virtually operated with a two pitch mix. His fastball (which he does throw both a four and two seam) was used right around 50% of the time. That curve was really his only other offering, as he used his changeup on just six different occasions.

It's been a pretty incredible two start sample size, especially considering how his first 14 career starts went. While it's unfair to assume this level of dominance as the norm going forward, we've now seen why Berrios has had such a long hype train following him through the minor leagues. He should safely settle in as a third starter for the Twins, and he has the ability and drive to push the envelope.

Download attachment: Schwerzler_berrios_pic2.png
As he continues to take the ball every 5th day, the keys to focus in on will remain pitch economy as well as just how impressive the movement he gets on his pitches is. Short in stature, it is in that movement that hitters are deceived, and that will help to allow Berrios opportunity to stay ahead of opposing batters. The pitch plane isn't ever going to work in his favor, but when his ball darts the distance of the zone, even the best big leaguers are going to struggle.

May 18, 2017 was among the best starting pitching efforts ever recorded in a Twins uniform. For an organization void of strikeouts for so long, it appears Berrios will pile them up in bunches. If he's going to continue bringing a frisbee to the ballpark, this should be a lot of fun.

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#2 Respy

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 02:14 PM

That 'slurve' was filthy, as appeared to be his 2-seam fastball.  And in fairly cold weather, nonetheless.  I don't remember Berrios throwing a breaking ball like that before.  The slider he threw during the WBC looked much more traditional.  If he can keep locating pitches, he could be fantastic this year.

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#3 bakreutzfeldt5409

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 02:23 PM

 

That 'slurve' was filthy, as appeared to be his 2-seam fastball.  And in fairly cold weather, nonetheless.  I don't remember Berrios throwing a breaking ball like that before.  The slider he threw during the WBC looked much more traditional.  If he can keep locating pitches, he could be fantastic this year.

I was thinking the same thing. It seemed like there was an extra inch or two on the breaking ball and it broke later than usual. I went back and watched highlights from last year and it seemed to be a sweeping curve and last night it started straight with a hard late break. I was at the game when Johan struck out 20 Rangers and last night brought a lot of those memories back. 


#4 Darius

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 02:27 PM

During the game, in the game thread, I made a statement that I though I'd get pounded for:

I said that was seeing a lot of similarities between how Berrios was pitching in that particular start, and the late Jose Fernandez.

Low and behold, after the game, Ian Desmond corroborated it by saying the exact same thing.

Of course, things could go downhill in a hurry. But, considering Fernandez was unhittable, and maybe the best pitcher in the game, while at his best....that's extremely exciting.

Berrios might just save a pitching staff that is in free fall. My only concern is how many games were sacrificed by leaving him in the minors too long.
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#5 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 03:02 PM

 

Berrios might just save a pitching staff that is in free fall. My only concern is how many games were sacrificed by leaving him in the minors too long.

Not many. The Twins gave three starts to Mejia, which objectively was not a terrible call. They gave a single start to Tepesch, which probably was.

 

Berrios wasn't ready for Opening Day after spending a bunch of time on the bench in the WBC. He was absolutely terrible last season and the front office obviously needed a better look at him in person before promoting him to Minnesota. They didn't get that in Spring Training so their next option was Rochester (never mind that Mejia had a strong ST and earned his spot, as much as a player can/should earn a spot out of Spring Training).

 

The Twins gave just one start to their fifth starter between April 23rd and the day Berrios was called up.

 

One of the stranger talking points running around this board is the implication the Twins sat on their hands for weeks while Berrios was dominating. The guy was called up and started the team's 33rd game, which is just a hair over 20% of the season. And the Twins used a fifth starter just once after their 17th game of the season (just a hair over 10% of the season).

 

So, in essence, I guess we could lament that single Tepesch start but that seems somewhat silly to me. Gibson was going to have an opportunity to get his feet under him and he last pitched May 4th, the team's 26th game of the season. He was yanked from the rotation after six starts, which is pretty close to the minimum a team will give a struggling starter. So, if we really want to pick nits, I guess you could toss one Gibson start in there, suggesting the Twins should have pulled him after five games.

 

So... two games? It still seems silly when framed that way.

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#6 Rhino and Compass

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 03:09 PM

If I am this excited about a "solid #3" I can't imagine what I would be like if the Twins developed a true ace

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#7 drjim

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 03:22 PM

 

Not many. The Twins gave three starts to Mejia, which objectively was not a terrible call. They gave a single start to Tepesch, which probably was.

 

Berrios wasn't ready for Opening Day after spending a bunch of time on the bench in the WBC. He was absolutely terrible last season and the front office obviously needed a better look at him in person before promoting him to Minnesota. They didn't get that in Spring Training so their next option was Rochester (never mind that Mejia had a strong ST and earned his spot, as much as a player can/should earn a spot out of Spring Training).

 

The Twins gave just one start to their fifth starter between April 23rd and the day Berrios was called up.

 

One of the stranger talking points running around this board is the implication the Twins sat on their hands for weeks while Berrios was dominating. The guy was called up and started the team's 33rd game, which is just a hair over 20% of the season. And the Twins used a fifth starter just once after their 17th game of the season (just a hair over 10% of the season).

 

So, in essence, I guess we could lament that single Tepesch start but that seems somewhat silly to me. Gibson was going to have an opportunity to get his feet under him and he last pitched May 4th, the team's 26th game of the season. He was yanked from the rotation after six starts, which is pretty close to the minimum a team will give a struggling starter. So, if we really want to pick nits, I guess you could toss one Gibson start in there, suggesting the Twins should have pulled him after five games.

 

So... two games? It still seems silly when framed that way.

 

And the way it ended up shaking out with lack of need on both ends of the start, even the Tepesch start was somewhat defensible, keeping everyone else on a regular schedule.

 

Santana, Santiago and Hughes weren't going to skip a start for Berrios this early, and Gibson after 6 starts is a pretty quick hook.

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#8 Lee-The-Twins-Fan

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 03:23 PM

Right now, Berrios is pitching behind Santana and ahead of Santiago and Hughes in the rotation. One could argue that he is the team's number 2 pitcher – in more ways than one.

 

I hope Santiago and Hughes get back on track. It's hard to get anywhere in the playoffs with just two decent pitchers. 

 

(Yeah, I'm thinking playoffs. I know there's a lot of baseball to be played yet, but hey – the Twins are in first place!)

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#9 KirbyDome89

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 04:53 PM

I don't think its strange at all....

 

Santiago threw 8.2 innings and Berrios threw 6.2. If Hector can be ready in time to slot into the 2 spot I'm sure Jose could've made it work as the 5. Had the Twins wanted Berrios in the rotation to start the season they certainly could have made that happen. They had 0 interest in that option. 

 

They didn't have to skip the 5 spot in the rotation, the Twins chose to do that so they wouldn't have to bring him up. 

 

The Tepesch start was just the cherry on top.

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#10 theBOMisthebomb

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 05:07 PM

 
...The Tepesch start was just the cherry on top.

The Tepesch start was an abomination, trust me I abused myself and sat through the entire thing and still feel sick thinking about it.
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#11 drjim

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 05:21 PM

I don't think its strange at all....

Santiago threw 8.2 innings and Berrios threw 6.2. If Hector can be ready in time to slot into the 2 spot I'm sure Jose could've made it work as the 5. Had the Twins wanted Berrios in the rotation to start the season they certainly could have made that happen. They had 0 interest in that option.

They didn't have to skip the 5 spot in the rotation, the Twins chose to do that so they wouldn't have to bring him up.

The Tepesch start was just the cherry on top.


There was no reason the Twins should have forced him into the opening day rotation. Good move by the front office.
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#12 KirbyDome89

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 06:49 PM

 

There was no reason the Twins should have forced him into the opening day rotation. Good move by the front office.

If you ignore the dominance in AAA over 2 years, and the fact he's one of their best pitchers then sure, there was no reason he should have given a shot at the rotation to start the season....


#13 snepp

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 07:30 PM

 

If you ignore the dominance in AAA over 2 years, and the fact he's one of their best pitchers then sure, there was no reason he should have given a shot at the rotation to start the season....

 

Let's also add the fact he barely pitched during the spring.

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#14 drjim

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 07:46 PM

Let's also add the fact he barely pitched during the spring.


And that he was terrible in the bigs the year before. It's really not unreasonable for the front office to want to get a good look at him and make sure he was in a position to succeed.

They might have waited too long, but opening day was unrealistic.
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#15 KirbyDome89

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 07:49 PM

 

Let's also add the fact he barely pitched during the spring.

2 fewer innings than Santiago? It certainly wasn't an issue of "getting stretched out," which was what we were told. 

 

Everybody rails against using ST as a metric for measuring regular season success (likely the rational thing to do) but the second a player misses some time there it's a disqualification from the 25 man? In every other scenario ST is considered a SSS against lesser competition, so why is it now so important? 

 

If the argument is the Twins weren't able to see as much of him I would remind you that it's basically the same group of people who drafted him and brought him up through the minors. If anything they were much more familiar with Berrios than Mejia. 

 

 

 

 


#16 drjim

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 07:56 PM

2 fewer innings than Santiago? It certainly wasn't an issue of "getting stretched out," which was what we were told.

Everybody rails against using ST as a metric for measuring regular season success (likely the rational thing to do) but the second a player misses some time there it's a disqualification from the 25 man? In every other scenario ST is considered a SSS against lesser competition, so why is it now so important?

If the argument is the Twins weren't able to see as much of him I would remind you that it's basically the same group of people who drafted him and brought him up through the minors. If anything they were much more familiar with Berrios than Mejia.


Santiago had little to do with Berrios, he was in his 7th year, not trying to establish himself after a terrible debut.

The Twins front office rightly gave the veteran more trust in preparation.
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#17 jimbo92107

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 08:08 PM

I see Santana, Berrios, and behind them I see several other guys just trying to get by, including Santiago. Maybe he's your #3, but not by much. I'd rather see Tyler Duffey get another shot, now that he's found a better angle to pitch to righties. 

 

I group Santiago with Mejia and Gibson as contenders for #4 and #5, if Duffey does just a little better as a starter. 

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#18 Thrylos

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 08:11 PM

 

 

My only concern is how many games were sacrificed by leaving him in the minors too long.

 

Well, the "too long" is a speculation.What if he were up in April and threw the way he did last season? 

 

Hard to tell.It is what it is and great to see.  

 

Now the Twins need another pitcher to step up

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#19 Thrylos

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 08:13 PM

 

 

2 fewer innings than Santiago? It certainly wasn't an issue of "getting stretched out," which was what we were told.

 

 

Santiago pitched in the WBC.Berrios sat on his ass

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#20 Thrylos

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 08:18 PM

 

 

 the fact he's one of their best pitchers

 

The fact is that at the major league level in 2016, his 8.02 ERA, 1.869 WHIP, 6.20 FIP was below Santana, Gibson, Duffey, Nolasco, Milone, Dean, Santiago, Hughes, and Albers (other than the WHIP on the latter).

 

That would make him their worst pitcher (as far as starters go) in 2016.

 

Dunno what other facts there are, but that's the fact.Potential has nothing to do with performance.

 

Hopefully he got it and will stay at the same level for a decade.Or more.

 

 

Edited by Thrylos, 19 May 2017 - 08:19 PM.

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