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Article: KC 6, MIN 4: Coming Down is the Hardest Thing

gabriel moya stephen gonsalves jake cave
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#1 Tom Froemming

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 09:44 PM

What a high the Twins were on. They beat up on the Yankees 10-5 Tuesday night thanks to a Joe Mauer grand slam, then bested them again Wednesday night 3-1 behind a near no-hit effort from Jake Oddorizzi in what may have been their best-played game all season.

Heading to Kansas City was going to be a piece of cake, right? Wrong. Let’s just say this one will not be mentioned among their better performances of the season.Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
Home Runs: Cave (11)
Multi-Hit Games: Cave (2-for-4, HR)
WPA of 0.1 or higher: Moya .104
WPA of -0.1 or lower: Busenitz -.437
Download attachment: WinChart913.png
The Twins went with the opener/primary picher strategy again today. Any time they roll that out I like to give an overview on how everything worked its way out from the top down.

Gabriel Moya was the opener. He pitched well, but was pretty inefficient. He threw two scoreless, no-hit innings and had a strikeout and a walk. The main problem was it took him 38 pitches to do so. With the expanded rosters that’s no big deal, but if the Twins were to test this during any of the other five months, that kind of an outing from a reliever would not be ideal.

Stephen Gonsalves followed as the primary pitcher. The good news: He pitched three no-hit innings and didn’t give up an earned run. The bad news: He walked four batters, which helped the Royals to score an unearned run thanks to a Jorge Polanco error. Gonsalves threw 69 pitches.

Alan Busenitz took over in the sixth. He gave up a double, then back-to-back home runs. Ouch. He threw 16 pitches, gave up three runs and failed to record an out. Matt Magill took over, but couldn’t get through the inning either.

Magill gave up a run on a pair of hits and a walk. He got two outs and threw 21 pitches. Andrew Vasquez took over and hit the first batter he faced, but the finally recorded the final out of the sixth. He threw 10 pitches.

Tally all that up and you get five pitchers combining for six innings, needing 154 pitches to do so. Not good.

Things settled back down from there, as John Curtiss pitched a scoreless seventh and Oliver Drake covered the eight, giving up an unearned run. An error was charged on Chris Gimenez’s throw to second base on a steal attempt, but it really should have been Polanco’s second error of the game. He whiffed on the catch, the ball just sailed right on by him.

The Twins held a 2-0 lead early thanks to a Jake Cave two-run homer in the second inning. They added two more runs in the eighth on an Eddie Rosario RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Robbie Grossman. That pulled them to within a run of KC, but the Royals added that insurance run in the bottom of the eighth and took care of business in the ninth.

Next Three Games
Fri at KC, 7:15 pm CT: Jose Berrios vs. Jorge Lopez
Sat at KC, 6:15 pm CT: Chase De Jong vs. Ian Kennedy
Sun at KC, 1:15 pm CT: Kyle Gibson vs. Jakob Junis

Last Three Games
MIN 3, NYY 1: Odorizzi Carries No-No Into 8th Inning
MIN 10, NYY 5: Joe Mauer Grand Slam Highlights Big Night for Bats
NYY 7, MIN 2: It Was Close, Until It Wasn’t

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#2 dougd

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 10:03 PM

Polanco needs to play outfield in winter league ball. 

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#3 caninatl04

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 10:25 PM

There was exactly one player in the lineup from the opening day line up:Kepler in RF.One out of eight.

 

(OK, 1 1/2 if one includes Rosario as a DH).

 

It brings to mind the line from the movie Major League:

 

"Who are these guys?"

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#4 Vanimal46

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 06:27 AM

Busenitz is pitching himself out of the Twins' plans next year.
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#5 MN_ExPat

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 06:32 AM

At this rate... I'd have to fully agree with that. Sigh.

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#6 MN_ExPat

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 06:38 AM

 

Busenitz is pitching himself out of the Twins' plans next year.

It's almost tragically comical in a sense. It seems like we see this so often with players throughout the league. A guy has good or even great "stuff", but he just can't fully harness it. I really hope that he can, and I'll continue to pull for him to do so, but... like you said, he just isn't getting it done right now.

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#7 stringer bell

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 07:05 AM

As noted in the Minor League section, Busenitz was very good in Rochester this year. He has been poor with the big club. Last year, he was pretty good with the Twins.
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#8 rdehring

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 07:09 AM

Everyone wanted to see all these young pitchers.Well, we got em.Maybe one of the reasons the front office wasn't pushing all these guys up is that they had a feeling they either aren't all that good or ready for the big show.

 

All those walks last night was worse than being in a dentist chair waiting for him to pull a tooth. 

 

Maybe the real pitching talent in the organization is further away, Class AA and lower.

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#9 USAFChief

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 07:14 AM

Add Polanco to the list of Twins players for whom 2018 has been a year to forget. 

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Cutting my carbs...with a pizza slicer.


#10 mikelink45

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 07:29 AM

I have written in a blog about SS that Polanco is a bad fielder, last night was another example. 12 errors in 61 games and it would be at least one more if they got the call right on his miss of Gimenez throw to second. He also had no hustle and cannot claim to be tired since he missed half the season.  

 

Nice bat, 2B is open Logan Forsythe is reducing his average after a nice quick start with the club and Polanco should slide over here.SS is too valuable for him to be our starter.

 

Busenitz is really disappointing, the opener idea is a farce, Gonsalves has disappointed.Magill is not the answer. 

 

Play Astudillo to entertain the fans. 

 

Jake Cave is the one who is really standing out right now.He continues to hustle and that is fun to watch.Is Buxton watching?  

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#11 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 08:05 AM

I don’t understand having an opener go more than one inning. If the theory behind the opener is to have him pitch to batters 1-3 (or 4) in the first inning, allowing the primary to begin his day with 4 or 5, and thus start his third time through the order with batter 4 or 5, getting two innings from an opener defeats this purpose. Since most pitchers have whips over 1, statistically speaking, if the opener goes two innings, the primary will start with batters 9,1, and 2, therefore negating most of the supposed benefit of the opener.
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#12 rileyroy

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 08:15 AM

How long do we continue with Kepler in right field? Maybe a platoon of Kepler and Buxton next year, with Rosario and Cave starting the other outfield positions?
I agree that they should be playing Polanco at second to see if that is a viable option. Lewis and Gordon are probably a year away from being our middle infielders (or longer to save service time!)

#13 jtkoupal

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 08:26 AM

In retrospect, maybe there is a reason why Alan Busenitz was stashed away in AAA while guys like Belisle were getting innings! I'm a little bit joking, of course, but really, Buze has had a tough year with the Twins. 

 

You really notice how AAA success doesn't always correlate with MLB success. A lot of guys light up AAA. Many of them don't stick at the MLB level. When guys don't get the call when we think they should, it very likely means that they aren't as convinced it can translate to the bigs like we do. 

 

Based on his AAA numbers this year, I figured he would be in a good spot for a bullpen spot in 2019. That looks to be in doubt, as there will almost definitely be bullpen additions in the offseason, and probably several of them.

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#14 jtkoupal

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 08:39 AM

Another thing,

 

It's amazing to me how walk-prone the entire staff has been, really.

Gonsalves: 17 BB in 15.1 Innings!!!!

Stewart: 15 BB in 24.2 Innings

Berrios (Post-ASG): 22 BB in 46.1 IP

Gibson (Post-ASG): 27 BB in 61 IP

Odorizzi: 64 BB in 155 IP

 

They all look fine compared to Gonsalves, but this walk rate, especially lately, is high for all of them. Some of it is simply September fatigue. Some is that you have some young pitchers getting their feet wet. All that said, the starters/primarys have not been good at limiting walks. 

 

Some bullpen notes:

Busenitz: 13 BB in 23.1 IP

Moya: 12 BB in 30.2 IP

Magill: 20 BB in 51.2 IP

 

Some work to be done there too

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#15 stringer bell

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 08:48 AM

Aren’t the high walks the expected downside for getting away from pitch-to-contact and having a staff full of “strikethrowers”?

Another thing is that “putaway pitch”. Without it, long counts and eventually walks. Certainly, this is the case for Gonsalves. Some of the others have had the same phenomenon, probably Odorizzi more than anyone else.
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#16 Tom Froemming

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 09:07 AM

 

I don’t understand having an opener go more than one inning. If the theory behind the opener is to have him pitch to batters 1-3 (or 4) in the first inning, allowing the primary to begin his day with 4 or 5, and thus start his third time through the order with batter 4 or 5, getting two innings from an opener defeats this purpose. Since most pitchers have whips over 1, statistically speaking, if the opener goes two innings, the primary will start with batters 9,1, and 2, therefore negating most of the supposed benefit of the opener.

Great line of thinking here. I embrace tinkering with new ideas, but the opener (at least the way the Twins have tried it so far) isn't really doing it for me. Your point above is another strike against it.

 

I definitely see the value in trying to avoid overexposure of your starter/primary pitcher, but this doesn't seem to be the way to accomplish that goal.


#17 AceWrigley

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 09:07 AM

I wonder if Greg Maddux could make a come back. Had pretty average stuff. Didn't throw that hard, but owned the edges of the plate. He'd throw it to either the inside edge or outside edge with great command, with just enough late movement in or out to keep the hitters guessing. And he seemed to be able to keep one step ahead of whatever the hitter's plan was. Very fun to watch him carve up a game.


#18 spycake

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 09:16 AM

 

As noted in the Minor League section, Busenitz was very good in Rochester this year. He has been poor with the big club. Last year, he was pretty good with the Twins.

Pretty good results last year, but not peripherals. Busenitz had a 19% K rate in MLB last year. The Twins didn't bring back any reliever with a lower mark in 2017.

 

Similarly, I wonder how good his Rochester performance was this year, in context. 28.7% K rate looks good, but it was below that of Anderson, Harper, and Eades at the same level.

 

Good reliever performances like this don't seem to be predictive of much, if anything.


#19 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 09:28 AM

 

I have written in a blog about SS that Polanco is a bad fielder, last night was another example. 12 errors in 61 games and it would be at least one more if they got the call right on his miss of Gimenez throw to second. He also had no hustle and cannot claim to be tired since he missed half the season.  

 

Nice bat, 2B is open Logan Forsythe is reducing his average after a nice quick start with the club and Polanco should slide over here.SS is too valuable for him to be our starter.

 

Busenitz is really disappointing, the opener idea is a farce, Gonsalves has disappointed.Magill is not the answer. 

 

Play Astudillo to entertain the fans. 

 

Jake Cave is the one who is really standing out right now.He continues to hustle and that is fun to watch.Is Buxton watching?  

Agree with almost all of this (I like the opener better than you do). It's great that we're bringing up the young guys in Septemeber, not so great that most of them stink. Sooooo, what have we learned?The positive:

 

1) Cave looks like he may be a starting OF in the big leagues with 20 plus HR stuff. .265/.335/.450 kind of guy, good corner OF, average in CF. That guy starts on my team. 

 

2)Stewart may be better than we thought. 4th or 5th starter some day?Maybe but probably not next year. 

 

3) Austin may be a 1B/DH type on a good team.A .250/.325/.475 type guy with 25 plus HRs. He and Cave could be the 5 and 6 or 6 and 7 hitters. Kind of a butcher with the glove, maybe can improve over time. 

 

4) DeJong may be a decent long man in the pen/6th starter. Austudillo could be a 25th man - 3rd C, super utility who can hit a little. 

 

5) Mejia belongs in the Bigs. Not sure if a starter or bullpen guy, but he belongs. Romero too.  

 

6) Garver belongs as half of a 2 man Catching group and can be the better half. 

 

Now, the bad:

 

1).Gonsalves, Littel, Stewart and Slegers are all nowhere near ready to contribute as starters next year and only Stewart has shown that he might ever be ready. That's your 2019 Rochester rotation with Thorpe and they should all be trade bait with bad teams looking for controllable pitching. Sadly, only Stewart and maaaaybe Littlel will bring much. Should have left Gonsalves in AAA and sold high on potential before we exposed his reality. 

 

2) Polanco stinks in the field and isn't getting better. Good bat, move to 2B. We will have to find a SS in free agency. Iglesias? Starlin Castro? Adrianza is actually not bad but best used as a UTL.

 

3) Time to rebuild the Bullpen ... Again. May, Hildenberger, Rogers, Reed (contract), stay. Moya maybe. Like me some Busenitz but he has to be in AAA until he shows he can get the curve over consistently.They sit on his fastball. Magill is reverting to mediocre form, Drake is a journeyman and both are really just BP filler. Curtiss? How knows, maybe a back of the BP guy. Need at least one FA for the bullpen, ideally 2. 

 

4)No closer. Hildenberger isn't really that guy and is better as a fireman type. Have ot get one in FA, don't have one in the minors. 

 

Sooo, once again the Twins have somewhere between a 1/2 to 2/3 of a contending team and the rising minor leaguers aren't good enough to fill the gaps. Big offseason coming if 2019 is going to be a contention year. 


#20 nicksaviking

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 09:35 AM

 

Aren’t the high walks the expected downside for getting away from pitch-to-contact and having a staff full of “strikethrowers”?

Another thing is that “putaway pitch”. Without it, long counts and eventually walks. Certainly, this is the case for Gonsalves. Some of the others have had the same phenomenon, probably Odorizzi more than anyone else.

 

I think the good strikeout pitchers have stuff that can miss bats while staying in the zone. The pretender strikeout pitchers constantly try to get guys to chase. 

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