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Article: Through Ten Games, Twins On Pace For 97 Wins

joe mauer max kepler brian dozier jose berrios jake odorizzi
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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 12:13 AM

An NFL regular season involved 16 games played. An MLB season includes 162 games played. The Twins have now played ten games, or about 1/16th of their schedule, the equivalent of one NFL game. If it was an NFL schedule, the Twins - with their 6-4 record - would get a Win for the first game of the season. While 6-4 may not seem real exciting, if the team were to go 6-4 for all 16 ten-game samples, they would be on pace to go 97-65 on the season.

Today, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the trends that we’ve seen in the Twins pitching staff through the season’s first ten games.The Starting Pitchers

We all got pretty excited about the Twins starting rotation after the season’s first series in Baltimore. Why? Well, the three Twins starters went a combined 21 innings without giving up a run. In fact, they gave up just four hits, walked eight and struck out 19 batters. Odorizzi threw six scoreless. Kyle Gibson threw six no-hit innings. Jose Berrios threw a complete game shutout on Easter.

However, since that series, it has been a challenge for the Twins starters. While I do think it is fair to ‘credit’ the cold weather conditions for some of the struggles of the pitching staff, including the starters, there could be more to it.

In the past seven games, Twins starters have given up 21 runs (1 unearned) in 32.2 innings. They’ve give up 36 hits, walked 23 and struck out 32.
  • First 3 Games: 21.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 8 BB, 7 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.19 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, 8.1 K/9
  • Last 7 Games: 32.2 IP, 36 H, 20 ER, 23 BB, 32K, 5.51 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 6.3 BB/9, 8.8 K/9
While the first three starts all provided at least six innings, only one start since has been even that long. Jake Odorizzi’s Tuesday start against the Astros was six innings. Just one of the other six innings went five innings (Lynn’s 5.0 IP start on Monday).

Twins starters averaged seven innings per start over the first three games. Since then, they have averaged just 4 ⅔ innings per game. That is significant because, simply, it means that the bullpen will be used more, will be taxed more.


The Bullpen

It’s always interesting to start seeing the trends of pitcher usage by the manager and pitching coach. Five of the last seven starts have gone less than five innings. Who did Molitor go to first?

Molitor has had to go to a relief pitcher in the fifth inning in five of the last seven games. I think that the below chart is quite interesting and clearly illustrates a number of things, including the manager’s confidence.

Reliever Pitched In
5th inning: Taylor Rogers (3), Gabriel Moya (1), Trevor Hildenberger (1)
6th inning: Trevor Hildenberger (4), Taylor Rogers (2), Gabriel Moya (1)
7th inning: Zach Duke (4), Ryan Pressly (4), Addison Reed (2), Trevor Hildenberger (2)
8th inning: Addison Reed (6), Ryan Pressly (1), Trevor Hildenberger (1), Zach Duke (1)
9th inning: Fernando Rodney (4), Addison Reed (1), Ryan Pressly (1), Gabriel Moya (1), Tyler Kinley (1),
10th inning: Trevor Hildenberger (1), Fernando Rodney (1)
11th inning: Fernando Rodney (1)

While Taylor Rogers spent the first half of 2017 being one of the most reliable bullpen arms in the league versus lefties or righties, his second half struggles have pushed him back into early-inning relief duties to start the season. Gabriel Moya got a couple of those games as well, and now Trevor Hildenberger has found himself working in those earlier situations after struggling in more crucial moments.

It’s clear, when the Twins are close and late, Addison Reed is going to get the ball, unless he has strep throat, of course. He has been terrific so far. Paul Molitor has shown remarkable confidence in lefty Zach Duke early in the season as well. While his lefty-righty splits were not pronounced in 2017, Molitor has decided to use him often in situations where he will face multiple right-handers. Doesn’t seem like an ideal situation, but he has generally come through to this point. Ryan Pressly’s early success has kept him getting late-inning and close situations as well.

At this point, Gabriel Moya and Tyler Kinley are only used in games that are not close.

The Fernando Rodney Experience has been just that, an experience. While Joe Nathan did his lip quiver thing to relax, Fernando Rodney keeps fans and teammates on their toes. While he’s certainly got the fastball and the changeup to be effective, his control and command have not been great. He’s given up a couple of big hits. He’s in no danger of losing his job at this point, however, so just get yourself prepared for some late-inning intrigue when he comes into the games.

The pitcher of most concern through the small sample size of ten games to start the season remains Trevor Hildenberger. He was arguably the Twins most reliable bullpen arm in the second half last season, so much so that the manager used him very often. In reality, the manager is still using him often this season. He’s already thrown seven innings in six appearances. His ERA is just 3.86 and his WHIP is just 1.29. Neither number is good, but it certainly doesn’t tell the story of his struggles so far. The below listing will let you know what his problem has been.

Inherited Runners/Inherited Runners Scored

Addison Reed (5/0)
Fernando Rodney (3/0)
Taylor Rogers (2/0)
Zach Duke (2/0)
Gabriel Moya (1/0)
Trevor Hildenberger (6/6)

That’s right. There have been three games in which Hildenberger has come in mid-inning with runners on base. He’s come into a situation with one runner on base, and that guy scored. He’s come into a game with two runners on base, and both of them scored. And, he came into a bases loaded situation, and all three scored.

It’s not quite time to be concerned about Hildenberger, yet. Well, you can be concerned if you want, and it’s understandable. Spring training numbers don’t matter because they are often working on things. But the trends we saw in spring with Hildenberger, not throwing strikes and giving up home runs, have continued into the first ten days of the season. He’s fallen behind batters, and hitters have been ready when he does throw strikes. An adjustment will likely have to be made by Hildenberger (and his catchers).

The Rochester Red Wings have played just two games so far this season because of weather. Tyler Duffey’s first outing of the year was three hitless innings. The other relievers who might be considered for early-season call up, like John Curtiss, Jake Reed and Alan Busenitz, have all worked just once so far this season.


The Offense

The Twins are going to score runs this year. Like last year, they will likely be a Top 4 team in the American League in runs scored. Through ten games, the Twins have averaged 4.7 points per game. Only twice have they scored fewer than four runs. They scored just two on Opening Day in Baltimore, and they were shut out on Monday night by Justin Verlander.

Joe Mauer is on fire to start the season. He’s hitting .387 and has been on base 52.5% of the time. His OPS is 1.041. Max Kepler’s OPS is next in line at 1.020. He’s hitting .280 and getting on base just under 40% of the time. He’s got three home runs after hitting two on Wednesday including a walk-off. As impressive as that has been so far, he has five walks to go with six strikeouts and appears to have a much better approach. Brian Dozier is the third player with an OPS over 1.000. He’s hitting .293 with a .396 OBP and four early-season home runs.

Despite a nearly 50% strikeout rate, Miguel Sano has a .925 OPS. Simply put, when Sano puts the ball in play, good things tend to happen.

On the other side of the situation, Byron Buxton is again off to a slow start. He’s hitting just .184/.205/.237 with two doubles and two stolen bases.

Logan Morrison really struggled early. However, in this Astros series, even on Monday night when he didn’t have a hit, he took very good at-bats against Verlander. Each plate appearance he saw several pitches and just missed several others, fouling them straight back. In his first two at-bats on Tuesday against lefty Dallas Keuchel, he hit the ball 110+ mph. He was finally squaring up the ball. He lined out in his first at bat on Wednesday too before adding a hit. So while he’s still hitting just .097 (3-31), it does appear that he’s turning a corner. Hopefully he will warm up soon, along with the temperatures of these Twins games.

With a 6-4 record, the Twins would get a W in their 1/16th season mark, their first game of what would be the NFL schedule. Hopefully they can continue to perform.

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#2 h2oface

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 02:05 AM

Through 1 game, they were on pace to win 0.

Through 2 games, they were on pace to win 81.

Through 3 games, they were on pace to win 108.

Through 4 games, they were on pace to win 81.

Through 5 games, they were on pace to win 97.

Through 6 games, they were on pace to win 108.

Through 7 games, they were on pace to win 92.

Through 8 games, they were on pace to win 81.

Through 9 games, they were on pace to win 90.......

 

But seriously, I enjoyed your summary after the 10th game very much.

 

I got Hildenberger at 7/7 Inherited Runners/Inherited Runners Scored, not 6/6, and all in the last 3 outings that covered 5 days. Three on the 7th, 1 on the 9th, and 3 on the 11th. (Gave Duke 3 earned - double on his second pitch of the game, and homer on his 4th, Rodgers 1 - single on the 2nd pitch, Gibson 3 - single on the first pitch today for two, and the Escobar boot that was ruled a hit on the 5th pitch of the day). 7 out of 7 runners inherited scored in his last three appearances, plus don't forget the 3 earned of his own, including 2 home runs!

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#3 slash129

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 05:25 AM

I don't know which Zach Duke you're watching, but he has not generally come through. The numbers don't lie. He has no command. The Zach Duke Experience has been worse than the Fernando Rodney Experience. The Twins may need to employ Devan Dubnyk as a special assistant for Castro and Garver to keep up on their blocking skills.
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#4 theBOMisthebomb

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 05:27 AM

World Series, homeboy.
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#5 mikelink45

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 06:33 AM

This is a grey and somewhat depressing weather morning - your optimism is as welcome as the sun would be.If only I could believe it.

 

"Good things happen to Sano when he hits the ball" but that is as profound as saying good things happen when we out-score the other team.At this point 50% strikeouts is completely unacceptable.He and Buxton are the big two, but it is Mauer, Rosario, Kepler, and Dozier who are carrying the team and they are going to need some help. 

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#6 jud6312

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 06:38 AM

Nice analysis, but I don't think you're giving Hildy the credit he deserves ... I think it's actually 7 for 7 on inherited runners. Minor quibble, but let's give him credit for all of it. Haha (that's actually a sad laugh).


#7 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 07:00 AM

This has been a rather wild ride, that's for sure. I hate to keep beating at the drum of "weather" but I just don't see how we can glean much of anything at this point. Particularly on this home stand, we've seen some really volatile pitching performances from both the home and visitor dugouts, some of them coming from really good pitchers.

 

Odorizzi is getting by on smoke and mirrors.

Lynn is Wild Thing and you have no idea what you're going to get.

Hildenberger is just painful right now.

Reed is amazeballs.

Gibson teeters between very good and very bad almost pitch-to-pitch.

Rodney is kinda what we expected, except maybe a bit moreso.

 

All in all, I don't see a lot of evidence telling us one thing or another, particularly when the opposing team has had nearly the same volatility.

 

I'm really looking forward to May so we can get a real look at the potential (or lack thereof) of this team.*

 

*and I haven't even mentioned the offense in this post

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#8 Doctor Wu

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 07:18 AM

Yeah, the weather factor ... is a factor. As Brock suggest, we need to wait another month before jumping to conclusions and tidy observations. But one thing I am in agreement on: Fernando Rodney is an unpredictable closer!


#9 Han Joelo

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 07:18 AM

If everybody on the team was totally kicking ass, they'd be on pace to win 162.  Luckily (or statistically?) things have broken in their favor, despite a few sub-par performances.  This is a really exciting team to follow right now.

 

Nonetheless, it is pretty easy to second guess some of the FO's offseason roster constructing right now, particularly as regards to the bullpen.  I'm sure they'd do it a bit differently if they had it to do over.  


#10 wsnydes

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 07:20 AM

I feel like I'm still holding my breath with this team.I'm not sure what to make of them.I guess that really shouldn't be a surprise 10 games in, but I haven't really been able to see a hint of a what this team's identity is.There are things that I like and things I don't like at all.The offense is making me nervous with its inability to get runners in and the bullpen scares me.I don't like that Molitor has to hide two guys in the bullpen.I love the fight shown in the team.As a Molitor critic, that is one thing I give him a lot of credit for; his teams do not give up.They'll fight to the end and that will always serve a team and it's fans well.The rotation seems to have improved, but not enough to make a serious jump forward.I like that this team has held up well against some really hot teams so far this season.  

 

Short story long is that I guess that I'm still trying to figure this team out.Though, in fairness, I think the team is still doing the same thing.It's April, plenty of baseball remaining.

"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains." - Meat 


#11 Old Twins Cap

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 07:40 AM

Twins have a long line-up, where power and rallies can spring up at any time.

 

That's like the old days when they made the playoffs.

 

So, offense is not going to be the issue.

 

Pitching, they got horses now.Sure there's been inconsistency in both starters and relievers.But there's also been more Ks, and they've stood up to some good lineups and held their own.

 

Rodney can come or go, depending on results, and they can add an arm from AAA or at the trade deadline.So, I think we are in this for real this year.

 

The main thing I always look at is Buxton.If Buxton emerges, we go somewhere special. If he doesn't, we have an unexpected hole in the lineup, and we all shake our heads about what could have been.


#12 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 07:43 AM

 

Nonetheless, it is pretty easy to second guess some of the FO's offseason roster constructing right now, particularly as regards to the bullpen.  I'm sure they'd do it a bit differently if they had it to do over.  

Would they, though? We're talking about 4-5 performances from the team's most heavily-used relievers.

 

A good front office doesn't make/regret decisions ten games into a season, especially a season as volatile as this one has been.

 

And it's hard to blame the front office for things like Molitor putting Duke in against righty after righty... after righty. I just don't get it.

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#13 Dantes929

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 07:49 AM

Most statistics are flawed in some way and one of the ways ERA is flawed is the inherited runners thing. If Reed comes in when bases are loaded maybe Gibson gives up 1 run in 4.3 innings.Instead he is credited with 4 runs. That is a pretty big difference in a situation Gibson has no control over. In fact, I am sure he is thinking he should have just been left out there and could have done better.I know I was thinkingthat.

Sano with a .925 OPS is ok with me. Some will say it is not sustainable given his K rate through 10 games and I will say it is his K rate that will not be sustained. .925 with lots of strikeouts means there will be lots of times fans will be disgusted and a fair share where he makes the difference in a good way on a game. His home runs have been the difference a couple times already.I will accept a .925 OPS in whatever form it comes unless for long stretches the good comes in blowouts and the the bad comes in close losses. That is not the case so far. When Dozier and Mauer come back to earth Sano might very well step up.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff ... and it's all small stuff.

#14 Tom Froemming

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 07:54 AM

Here's some fun bullpen nerdery to pass along:

 

gmLI (avg. leverage index when pitcher enters the game)

1.74 Rodney

1.64 Reed

1.50 Hildenberger

1.47 Duke

1.06 Rogers

0.84 Pressly

0.16 Moya

0.01 Kinley

 

WPA (pitcher's impact on win expectancy)

0.61 Reed (ranks 12th among all relievers)

0.19 Rogers

0.04 Pressly

0.02 Moya

0.00 Kinley

-0.12 Hildenberger

-0.19 Duke

-0.28 Rodney

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#15 Brandon

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 07:59 AM

Looks like the Twins are on pace for a 10 - 6 NFL season according to Seths projections. Thats a team that can win the division or be a top wild card team.
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#16 Dantes929

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 08:00 AM

"While 6-4 may not seem real exciting, if the team were to go 6-4 for all 16 ten-game samples, they would be on pace to go 97-65 on the season."

I love 6-4 especially given the competition, no Santana and a closer I don't trust.I always love how in playoff races the wild card team fans talk about how their team only has a 2 game lead and needs to go 10-6 to get the wild card when all the teams have been about .500 through 146 games. You never know how many you need cuz any team can go on a run but statistically that team has a good chance if it just goes 8-8 and a fair chance if it goes 7-9.Give me 6-4 all season with a few 5-5 sprinkled in.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff ... and it's all small stuff.

#17 slash129

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 08:11 AM

 

Here's some fun bullpen nerdery to pass along:

 

gmLI (avg. leverage index when pitcher enters the game)

1.74 Rodney

1.64 Reed

1.50 Hildenberger

1.47 Duke

1.06 Rogers

0.84 Pressly

0.16 Moya

0.01 Kinley

 

WPA (pitcher's impact on win expectancy)

0.61 Reed (ranks 12th among all relievers)

0.19 Rogers

0.04 Pressly

0.02 Moya

0.00 Kinley

-0.12 Hildenberger

-0.19 Duke

-0.28 Rodney

 

So maybe a little more Pressly ® and Moya (L) with the game in balance and a little less Duke(L) and Hildenberger®.... The Rodney Experience will have to play itself out at least until the marketing department recoups the expense for putting together his entrance show (which is actually pretty cool)


#18 clutterheart

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 08:33 AM

folks

There are 0.0 "nerdy" stats that matter right now.There are no trends at this point.

 

Baseball is about patience.So be patient.  

 


#19 Thrylos

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 08:36 AM

 

Here's some fun bullpen nerdery to pass along:

 

gmLI (avg. leverage index when pitcher enters the game)

 

 

 

gmLI is really a measure on management trust and not pitching performance.It is all about Molitor's belief on his pitchers.

 

A couple days ago, I used Situational Run Expectancy (RE24) which measures how close to the average pitcher in a particular situation (bases loaded or empty, 8 runs up etc) a particular pitcher performs and Fangraphs "Clutch" which measures how much better or worse a player does in high leverage situations than he would have done in a context neutral environment, to analyse the Twins' pen.They are both WPA-based measurements.Results and conclusion here.These 2 measurement offer an interesting insight.I did not check them after yesterday's game, but I think that the conclusion is pretty close...

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#20 Thrylos

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 08:37 AM

 

 

folks

There are 0.0 "nerdy" stats that matter right now.There are no trends at this point.

 

Baseball is about patience.So be patient.  

 

I'd say that 7/7 runs inherited scored is statistically significant even with sample size = 7.

 

As is calling something that might be over one's head "nerdy", instead of making an effort to understand what it might mean.

 

As far as trends go, you only need 3 data points to have one...

Edited by Thrylos, 12 April 2018 - 08:39 AM.

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