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Article: It’s Time to End the Tyler Kinley Experiment

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#1 Andrew Thares

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Posted 24 April 2018 - 08:48 PM

There were some eyebrows raised last December when the Twins left Nick Burdi and Luke Bard exposed to the Rule 5 Draft so they could select Marlins prospect Tyler Kinley. At the time, Kinley was a relatively no-name relief prospect who had only accumulated 9 2/3 career innings at Triple-A.

What was interesting about Kinley to the Twins was his out of this world stuff. He has a fastball that can reach triple digits, and a slider that sits in the upper 80s with an above average amount of spin (averaging 2479 RPM this year).However, the problem with Kinley has always been his inability to control his pitches. Over his five-year minor league career, Kinley had averaged 3.5 BB/9.

It is quite apparent, early on, that Tyler Kinley is not a major league-ready pitcher, and that Paul Molitor has zero trust to use him in a game unless it is already out of reach. His control has been awful, having thrown just 59.8% of his pitches for strikes.

In an era where most major league hitters are seeing pitchers with an upper 90s fastball paired with a wicked breaking pitch on a nightly basis, Tyler Kinley’s stuff isn’t exactly blowing them away. In fact, opposing hitters are hitting .474 off him with a double and two home runs.

Kinley does have a 10.80 K/9 rate, but that is a little misleading with all the batters he has faced. In total his strikeout rate sits at just 17.4%, which is well below the league average, especially for a reliever.

So, what is keeping the Twins from cutting ties with Tyler Kinley? The biggest hang-up is that since Kinley was a Rule 5 draft pick, the Twins would have to either DFA him or offer him back to the Marlins if they don’t want to keep him on their 25-man roster. So, if the organization still has faith that Kinley can one day be a presence in the Twins bullpen they are hesitant to get rid of him. While that reasoning makes sense, there are plenty of other reasons why getting rid of Tyler Kinley now makes sense too.

With the Twins in the hunt for another playoff berth in 2018, every roster spot is valuable, and to waste one on a pitcher who has zero impact on meaningful games only hurts their chances. His roster spot could easily be taken by other relievers like Alan Busenitz (who was sent back down to Rochester and replaced by Tyler Duffey on Tuesday), John Curtiss, Jake Reed or D.J. Baxendale. Both Reed and Baxendale would need to be added to the Twins 40-man roster, which isn’t an issue since they can just replace Kinley’s spot.

Another reason why it would make sense to move on from Tyler Kinley is his age. At 27, his potential upside for the Twins is limited, even if he does figure out his control issues. Relief pitchers have a very sharp aging curve that starts to show real decline from the age of 25. Here is a comparison what starting pitcher aging curves look like compared to relief pitcher aging curves.
Download attachment: Starting Pitcher Aging Curve.PNG Download attachment: Relief Pitcher Aging Curve.PNG
Aging Curves courtesy of FanGraphs.



As you can see from these graphs the aging process for relief pitchers is a lot more drastic than it is for starting pitchers. Stats like BB/9, BABIP, HR/9 and FIP all see sharp increases around the age of 27 for relievers, while stats like K/9, velocity and swinging strikes all see declines at that same age. With Kinley already at that 27-year-old threshold it might be too late for the Twins to sit around and hope he becomes something that he has never even been as a minor leaguer.

At the end of the day, running a baseball team is just like running a business. Sometimes you make good investments and sometimes you make bad investments, and what separates good businesses from bad businesses is the good businesses understand when it is time to get out from under on a bad investment. That is exactly what the Twins need to do with Kinley.

SEE ALSO
Is it Time for a Roster Reshuffle?

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#2 Danchat

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Posted 24 April 2018 - 10:08 PM

Good stuff, Andrew. It's interesting to see Kinley's at the point where his velocity could potentially start declining. It's just another reason to end the experiment.

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#3 h2oface

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 01:30 AM

I still can't believe what this FO let go or made available in the rule 5 to keep this guy. So much for pitching experts.

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#4 SarasotaBill

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 04:48 AM

Twins also lost Chargois while keeping Kinley on the 40.

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#5 killertwinfan

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 05:27 AM

I think the more astute baseball fans saw this as a mess right out of the gate.It's OK to criticize this move while at the time have a lot of respect for what the front office has done in a very short time.Considering how many moves the FO has had to make in a relatively short time, you can't expect them to get them all right.However, I think this situation has turned the corner from being, let's hang on to him as long as we can to see if he can get it together to the FO being slow or unwilling to admit their mistake.Kudos writer!

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#6 adorduan

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 06:38 AM

Can't the front office, if they really want to keep him, offer something to the Marlins ( it can't cost much) and send him down?He doesn't belong on the MLB roster.

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#7 Seth Stohs

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 07:13 AM

 

Can't the front office, if they really want to keep him, offer something to the Marlins ( it can't cost much) and send him down?He doesn't belong on the MLB roster.

 

Yeah, ,they'd have to put him through waivers and see if he clears. If he does, he needs to be offered back to the Marlins for $50K or in a trade for a player. I don't have a problem with them keeping him in the organization. Clearly he's got a ton of talent. But age and minor league track record indicate that it may never happen.

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#8 Andrew Thares

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 07:14 AM

 

I think the more astute baseball fans saw this as a mess right out of the gate.It's OK to criticize this move while at the time have a lot of respect for what the front office has done in a very short time.Considering how many moves the FO has had to make in a relatively short time, you can't expect them to get them all right.However, I think this situation has turned the corner from being, let's hang on to him as long as we can to see if he can get it together to the FO being slow or unwilling to admit their mistake.Kudos writer!

I completely agree. The new front office has done an excellent job in my opinion, and no you can't expect them to give everything right, because well that's just not how the world works.


#9 Seth Stohs

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 07:25 AM

I'm as guilty as anyone. I bashed the move at the time, ,just based on who the Twins lost in the Rule 5 and who they added. Kinley had little success in the minor leagues up to this point,, regardless of obviously having a huge arm and a good slider and being durable. 

 

That said, stepping back a bit, there are a few things to note:

 

1.) Decisions on who to protect from the Rule 5 draft are independent of the decision of who to pick in the Rule 5 draft. They happen at different times and they don't know who other teams will leave unprotected. 

2.) The Twins clearly made starting pitching their focus in terms of protecting guys. They protected Gonsalves, Littell and Thorpe, and I think we're all on board with those guys. 

3.) We also have to remember that guys who get protected in November can't be removed from the 40-man roster until sometime in spring training. So, if they had added more, they would have had to drop other guys that they may have preferred to keep on the roster. So, they made choices, knowing there was the possibility of losing guys. But, another factor in that is whether those guys would be able to stick on the other team's 40-man roster. Bard's already off of the Angels 40-man. Man, it would be nice to bring him back to Rochester. 

4.) I think the Chargois decision, while I don't think I get the full picture of it, was made early enough in spring training that it really wasn't even related to Kinley... though I know some want to play it that way. Chargois was clearly behind several others including Hildenberger, Busenitz, Curtiss and others. And, I still contend that there may have been more to that decision than baseball. That may have been a case where a change of scenery was good for both sides. 

5.) Rule 5 picks can be a good thing, even for a winning team. It doesn't hurt to have a bullpen guy hidden if two things are done. First, the rest of the bullpen has to be doing its job so that the Rule 5 guy doesn't have to pitch in key situations. And, the Rule 5 guy has to be able to work an inning or two in a blowout situation. To this point, Kinley hasn't been able to show even that. 

 

So at the end of the day, I definitely don't consider taking a shot on a guy with a big arm a bad decision at all. Like most Rule 5 guys, you take a shot on a relatively inexpensive way to acquire some talent and you find out. At this point, or whenever, I'm' fine with that experiment ending and moving forward. 

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#10 Craig Arko

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 07:32 AM

I don't really have any strong feelings on this either way.

 

But I don't think removing Kinley will suddenly cause the starters to go 5+ innings, or the hitters to begin driving people in.

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#11 KGB

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 07:54 AM

I completely agree. The new front office has done an excellent job in my opinion, and no you can't expect them to give everything right, because well that's just not how the world works.

Can you explain why you think the front office has done an excellent job? I get the feeling people like the idea of a young and analytical front office and think that is great, but based on what they done so far, I don’t see anything great.
1. They went to the playoff last year, but that was more in spite of the front office moves then because of the moves. At the trade deadline, they acquired a starter then one bad week, they traded him. Then they traded the closer. Unless you think picking up Barton Colon was the move the team needed, it sure looks like they were not trading to make a playoff push.
2. They had a highly regarded draft, but that usually happens when you have the first overall pick. It’s going to take a few more years to really evaluate the draft, but I think it going to be interesting how the draft is rated this year when they are middle of the pack in the draft.
3. They were unable to sign any of the young players to extensions this off season. I don’t know if the offers were low or if all the players just decided to bet on themselves, but going missing out on 5 offers doesn’t sound great.
4. I know signing Morrison and Lynn were popular moves, but as of yet have not paid off. And the Rule 5 draft and roster moves with the relief pitchers are looking bad.
Everything is still early, so there is time for things to turn around. But I think if Terry Ryan was still here and made these moves, most people would be looking to fire him
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#12 Thrylos

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 08:00 AM

It is not time yet, until we see what his numbers are when the 40.0 HR/FB%, .538 BABIP, and 39.2 LOB% land towards Earth values...

 

BTW, I hear a lot about Luke Bard and Nick Burdi.Where are they now?

At least Molitor is using him as a mop up pitcher.There are bigger fish to fry in the Twins' pen than their mop up pitcher.

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#13 slash129

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 08:21 AM

Kinley is an easy scapegoat right now.There are other investments that need to be eaten ahead of Kinley, but outside forces may be coming into play (e.g. How much pressure do Falvine and Molitor have to squeeze value out of Hughes?).

 

Losing Bard shouldn't be in the argument anymore.If the Twins want him back, he's there for $50K.

 

The way decisions are going down seems to be in line with an FO more concerned about viability for 2019 and beyond than 2018 playoff hopes.  

 

Next year Kinley can be dropped in Arteaga's lap for half a season or so and maybe that stuff turns into production.

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#14 Tom Froemming

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 08:37 AM

The biggest problem Kinley has created is he's taking up space on the 25-man and 40-man rosters. Sure, the last guy in your bullpen is only going to pitch in super low-leverage situations, so it doesn't matter all that much who that guy is ... unless he can pitch his way out of that role. I don't think Kinley has any chance of doing that.

 

I certainly think Busenitz/Moya/Curtiss or even some guys not on the 40 man like Jake Reed/Mason Melotakis/D.J. Baxendale/Nick Anderson would have a better chance of getting their footing than Kinley. 

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#15 Nick Nelson

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 08:38 AM

 

It is not time yet, until we see what his numbers are when the 40.0 HR/FB%, .538 BABIP, and 39.2 LOB% land towards Earth values...

 

BTW, I hear a lot about Luke Bard and Nick Burdi.Where are they now?

At least Molitor is using him as a mop up pitcher.There are bigger fish to fry in the Twins' pen than their mop up pitcher.

Yep, once Kinley's ERA gets back in line with his 6.70 xFIP (which accounts for all the things you mentioned) he'll be good to go.

 

Luv 2 have a "mop-up pitcher" who can't give me more than one (terrible) inning at a time.

 

Bard looked fairly good in his short time with the Angels, the Twins would be lucky to get him back. I'm not sure what the point is in bringing up Burdi. He's on the DL, recovering from surgery, as we all knew he would be. 

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#16 Nick Nelson

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 08:40 AM

This is shaping up as the first colossal whiff from the new front office, IMO, and they just continue to make it worse by refusing to cut bait. 

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#17 Vanimal46

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 08:43 AM

This is shaping up as the first colossal whiff from the new front office, IMO, and they just continue to make it worse by refusing to cut bait.


Logan Morrison wants to be in that conversation too. Not the refusing to cut bait line, but biggest whiff acquisition.

#18 spycake

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 08:50 AM

 

Logan Morrison wants to be in that conversation too. Not the refusing to cut bait line, but biggest whiff acquisition.

Morrison has certainly struggled, but the thinking behind his acquisition wasn't bad. Unlike Kinley, who was suspect from the get-go.

 

I suppose in all their talks with the Rays, they could have added Corey Dickerson instead of LoMo? Wasn't quite as good as Morrison at the plate last year, but a bit more consistent track record plus the ability to play outfield.

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#19 Nick Nelson

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 08:53 AM

 

1.) Decisions on who to protect from the Rule 5 draft are independent of the decision of who to pick in the Rule 5 draft. They happen at different times and they don't know who other teams will leave unprotected. 

I wouldn't exactly say this is true. Clearly they left one 40-man spot open with the intention of adding a player in the Rule 5, right? And while you're right that they didn't know who would be available, what caliber of player did they really expect to get with the 20th selection?

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#20 bobs

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 08:58 AM

Kinley does not belong in the bigs.We all know that.The FO took a swing and appears to have missed.However, Tyler Kinley isn't the problem right now.What happened to Taylor Rogers?Trevor Hildenberger?Tyler Duffey?Addison Reed is going to continue to be terrific.Fernando Rodney is exactly who he is.But if those other guys don't turn things around quickly, this bullpen is going to be a mess.Again.

 

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