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Article: Twins Starting Pitcher Projections for 2018

jose berrios ervin santana lance lynn jake odorizzi kyle gibson
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#1 Andrew Thares

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 09:18 PM

With the 2018 season right around the corner, perhaps the biggest topic in baseball circles right now is player projections. Whether it is for fantasy purposes or for trying to predict how your favorite team is going to play this season, people can’t get enough of them. So, I decided to create my own projections for each player on the Twins 40-man roster, and then see how my projections stack up versus some of the other more prominent projection systems.The systems that I compared to are PECOTA, which is found on Baseball Prospectus, along with ZiPS and Steamer, which can both be found on FanGraphs. Please note that not all of the systems use the same formula when calculating WAR. Additionally, the ZiPS projections for playing time assume a full season's worth of work, even for players who will most likely spend most of the season in the minor leagues.

In the first edition we will be looking at the starting pitchers who are currently on the Twins 40-man roster.

RHP Jose Berrios

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These projection systems are notorious for underrating potential year-to-year improvement from younger players. Personally, I see Jose Berrios taking another step forward in 2018. If Berrios can make this step forward, the Twins could be looking at the potential ACE of their staff.

RHP Lance Lynn

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Much has been made about Lance Lynn’s 3.43 ERA in 2017 being much lower than his peripheral stats suggested it should have been. This explains a lot of low expectations that PECOTA and Steamer have for him. While I do see Lynn taking a step back this year, it is hard to see his ERA inflating by nearly a run and a half, especially from a guy who in his career has never had an ERA above 3.97.

RHP Jake Odorizzi

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In a very similar way to Lynn, Jake Odorizzi put up an ERA in 2017 that was a fair amount lower than his underlying numbers suggested. A couple of factors that led to this were the spike in his walk rate, which was nearly a walk per nine higher than his career average, and the increase in his HR/FB%, which rose from his 9.9% career average prior to 2017, up to 15.5% in 2017. If Odorizzi can bring these numbers back to his career norms, he should have no problem maintaining his numbers from last season.

RHP Ervin Santana

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Ervin Santana got off to a great start last season, posting a 1.75 ERA through May. However, over the last four months of the season, Santana had an ERA over four. Given Santana’s age and track record, it can be expected that we will see more of the latter from Santana in 2018. The big question mark for Santana entering this season will be his ability to come back from the injury and surgery to his pitching hand.

RHP Kyle Gibson

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Kyle Gibson is hoping to build off a strong end to 2017, where he posted a 2.92 ERA over his final eight starts of the season. While this could be looked at as a sign of optimism that Gibson has turned a corner, the truth is Gibson benefited from facing weak offenses in those starts, as not one of his eight opponents ranked higher than 19th in runs scored.

RHP Phil Hughes

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Phil Hughes is viewed at by many as a thorn in the side of the Twins pitching staff. His inability to stay healthy, along with poor performance when he is healthy, have provided a real weak spot for the Twins over the last couple of seasons. Unfortunately for the Twins, Hughes is still owed $26.4M over the next two seasons, which is about the only thing guaranteeing him a roster spot as we begin 2018.

LHP Adalberto Mejia

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Adalberto Mejia was a fine pitcher for the Twins last season and looked to be a lock for the Twins rotation entering the winter. However, Mejia fell victim to the surprisingly slow offseason, which enabled the Twins to add two new starters to their rotation. With Mejia’s flexibility, given that he could still be optioned, he has become the odd man out in the Twins rotation. Mejia will most likely serve as the first man called up from AAA when the Twins need a spot start throughout the season, or if they need depth due to injuries.

LHP Stephen Gonsalves

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If there is a minor league pitcher who I expect to break out this year and help the Twins in 2018 it is Stephen Gonsalves. It is hard to remember the last time that the Twins had a pitching prospect with as high of a floor as Gonsalves. Unlike Mejia, whose opportunities with the big club might mostly be dictated by opportunity, Gonsalves has the ability to force the front office to find a spot for him on the MLB roster if he is pitching well enough in Rochester.

RHP Fernando Romero

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The other minor league candidate who has a real shot of forcing his way into the 2018 Twins rotation is Fernando Romero. Romero was lights out throughout the spring and has the stuff to be a front of the rotation starter for the Twins. Romero isn’t as refined of a pitcher as Gonsalves quite yet, but he is quickly closing the gap.

RHP Aaron Slegers

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Much like Mejia, Aaron Slegers is another pitcher who was hurt by the Twins additions of both Odorizzi and Lynn. If it wasn’t for that, Slegers would have had an opportunity to serve a bigger role for the Twins this year than he did in 2017. Though, as it stands, it is looking like Slegers will be pegged into the role of a spot starter again this season.

RHP Felix Jorge

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Felix Jorge made a surprise start for the Twins in 2017, after getting called up from AA. After an unsuccessful outing, he was sent back to Chattanooga, where he continued his strong 2017 for the Lookouts. Jorge will most likely spend much of 2018 in Rochester and may get a spot start or two as a September call-up.

LHP Dietrich Enns

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Acquired as part of the trade that sent Jamie Garcia and cash to the Yankees, Dietrich Enns is a pitcher who has had a lot of success at the minor league level, with a 1.88 ERA over six career minor league season. Enns will spend most of the season as part of the deep Rochester pitching staff, but if he is pitching well he will be in consideration to receive a spot start or two throughout the season.

RHP Zack Littell

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As the other piece that the Twins received in the Jamie Garcia trade, Zack Littell is a little bit further away from the bigs than Enns. However, at just 22, and 2/3 of a season at AA under his belt, Littell is a pitcher with definite upside for the Twins. Despite this, Littell still remains a long shot to break through with the Twins before September.

RHP Lewis Thorpe

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Lewis Thorpe was surprised himself when the Twins added him to the 40-man roster last November. It is hard to believe that Thorpe will have much of a shot at helping the big-league team in 2018, as he is still working his way back after missing all of 2015 and 2016 with injuries and an illness. Thorpe could see a few relief outings for the Twins in September if he stays healthy.

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#2 MN_ExPat

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 06:48 AM

Great write up. Looking forward to the rest of the 40 Man roster.


#3 Doubles

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 07:42 AM

Thares, Pecota, Zips, & Steamer sound like a formidable pitching rotation.

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#4 ashbury

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 07:44 AM

Thares, Pecota, Zips, & Steamer sound like a formidable pitching rotation.

Or a Marx Brothers law firm.

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We laugh at gypsies, fortune tellers, and horoscopes, yet we trust baseball prospect lists.


#5 HitInAPinch

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 09:07 AM

Boy, I sure hope some of those MiLB Starting prospects are ready to go sometime this year.  

It's not my fault !


#6 TFRazor

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 10:36 AM

 

Or a Marx Brothers law firm.

 

They're right up there with Howard, Fine & Howard when it comes to personal injury


#7 Dave The Dastardly

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 11:24 AM

 

They're right up there with Howard, Fine & Howard when it comes to personal injury

I have Hookem, Crookem and Snookem on retainer. Very reputable.


#8 USAFChief

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 11:32 AM

Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe is my personal favorite law firm.

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Cutting my carbs...with a pizza slicer.


#9 USAFChief

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 11:33 AM

Oh, and nice work, Mr Thares.

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#10 Andrew Thares

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 01:53 PM

 

Or a Marx Brothers law firm.

It's an extension off the Babip, Pecota, Vorp, & Eckstein Law firm from Parks and Rec


#11 Doctor Wu

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 06:11 AM

the truth is Gibson benefited from facing weak offenses in those starts, as not one of his eight opponents ranked higher than 19th in runs scored.

 

Yikes! I hadn't realized that Gibson had faced so many weak lineups during his hot streak late last year. Nevertheless, I remain cautiously optimistic that maybe he DID finally discover some magic extra something, and hoping he can start the season off on a promising note.


#12 twinfan

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 07:56 AM

Interesting article. I think Berrios will be a top pitcher this year while the others will be fair to middlin. It will be interesting to see if we will need help from the minor league pitchers and how much they will contribute. Mejia should have made the team but will benefit from pitching regularly. Enns looks like a good prospect.




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