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Article: A Refreshing Shift in Twins Territory

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#1 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 05:30 PM

The Minnesota Twins will embark upon the 2019 major league baseball season with plenty of areas to improve. After a season in which expectations were not met across the board, a lot of soul searching needs to be done within the organization. Although no one expected a Wild Card team from 2017 to fall off so badly, the reality that many answers lie internally acts as a beacon of hope. Chief among the positives, is that the Twins appear to have a rotation for the first time in a long while.When the dust settles on the 2018 season, the Minnesota Twins will close out a September that has featured starters such as Kohl Stewart, Zack Littell and Stephen Gonsalves. Sure, all those guys have taken their lumps at times, but the coaching staff has used these meaningless games to get a handful of prospects some very important big-league exposure. When it comes to the rotation, depth is present, and there’s more than a couple of names ready to be written in.

Right now, today, we can safely suggest that Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi, and Michael Pineda will start the season in the Twins rotation. That foursome is plenty capable of leading a club to the playoffs, on paper, and that’s a very good place to start. Berrios has flashed the ability of a budding star, Gibson is rounding into his expected form, and the numbers suggest that Odorizzi isn’t far behind. Pineda didn’t debut due to a knee injury, but he should be virtually 100% this spring.

During 2018 Twins starters have posted an 8.25 K/9 which was the 14th best mark in the majors. A season ago, they ranked 26th in that category with a 7.08 K/9 mark. Although they’ve stepped back a bit in terms of ERA ranking, the 4.58 mark trumps the 4.73 tally they were at in 2017. To suggest that the front office has begun to make it’s mark on the bump would be an understatement.

Certainly, it’s Berrios who gets all the praise, and he’s been more than deserving of it. His 3.81 ERA on the year isn’t much of an improvement from the 3.89 mark set last year, but he’s fanning more batters and issuing fewer walks. Jose’s key will continue to be limiting the homers, having given up 1.2 per nine this year.

When dissecting both Odorizzi and Gibson, it’s hard not to look at both in a similar context. Gibson is the guy who appears to have taken the largest steps forward, but there’re a few areas of suggested regression. Nonetheless, he’s transformed himself into a reliable middle-of-the-rotation piece, and that has significant value for the Twins. Jake took his lumps for a while with his new team but has turned it on down the stretch. Since August 3rd, the former Rays starter owns a 3.83 ERA and 3.49 FIP. Another guy who is middle-of-the-road, Odorizzi is a solid option.

It’s certainly fair to question what the Twins will get in Michael Pineda. Although Tommy John surgery is plenty routine at this point, he hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since July 5, 2017. With the Yankees, he was a hard thrower who generally outshined his ERA with his FIP and could benefit from a more pitcher-friendly ballpark. Another strikeout arm, it’s a solid addition to the Minnesota stable.

Yes, you’ve counted correctly, that’s only four starters in total. Right now, Minnesota could opt to turn the reins over to Fernando Romero from the get go. He got a good deal of experience this season and has always been a guy projected to profile at the top of a starting rotation. The front office also will have significant money to spend, and while Dallas Keuchel is the household free agent name, Patrick Corbin is probably the cream of the crop.

With only one spot open, and internal depth built in, Minnesota has the luxury of not needing to load up on veteran retreads. Any arm brought in should be at the quality of Gibson and Odorizzi or better. Allowing the new guy to bump each starter back a rung only helps to further solidify the overall water level of the group. For the first time in a while, this organization doesn’t need to completely remake the position group, and they really shouldn’t want to.

The Twins are doing a lot of things well on the mound. They’re striking batters out, and they’ve got sustainable answers on a rolling weekly basis. When it comes to searching from within, the likes of Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, and others need to display a notion that they’re capable of more. That piece of the puzzle remains to be seen, but it looks like the Twins have the bump covered.

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#2 jtkoupal

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 06:05 PM

I agree. The rotation is in pretty good shape. Maybe a solid #2/#3 guy would be ideal to allow Odo and Pineda to occupy 4/5.

 

Corbin, Eovaldi, Keuchel, & Richards come to mind. They are all Free Agents-to-be. 

 

The real concern needs to be relief pitchers. I think it is sufficient to say they need help in the pen, and LOTS of it.

 

Thank you, Ted.

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#3 mikelink45

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 06:39 PM

Wow is this optimism over the top.Pineda, who the hell knows what he will bring.This is not a former Cy Young pitcher.He has been injured then injured again.Do you think that the Yankees wanted to keep him?Odorizzi has really risen to the top versus the Tigers and Royals!Sorry the old SSS comes in to play when we look at his top efforts.I want him to succeed, but lets see.I take Berrios and Romero and then I have my fingers crossed.

 

Stewart had a great game against the Tigers.Gonsalves had a great game against - you guessed it the Tigers.Lets see this against the Yankees, Red Sox, Astros, Indians. 

 

Am I bitter, damn right, this team has under performed by every measure and what we see in September does not mean a damn thing. Will I get censored for Damn? 

 

The lineup has a lot of guys who would be great in the 7/8/9 slots but guess what there are six more to fill.Put in Polanco and Rosario and Cave and then what?This is not refreshing.We are ninth in the AL and the teams below us have chosen to Tank. 

 

Tell me Kiriloff and Lewis are ready, that Gratol is going to make the jump.Then I get excited.Otherwise we are fooling ourselves and the Twins love it.

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#4 Mike Sixel

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 06:40 PM

There are reasons for optimism, but then "everyone" thought the Twins would hit this year, and pitching would be the question.....so I'm not sure I'm as far as Ted yet. Let's see how healthy Pineda is, then we can dream.

Edited by Mike Sixel, 20 September 2018 - 06:41 PM.

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I remain hopeful on Buxton and Sano.....but I'd not bet the franchise on them.


#5 jkcarew

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 07:14 PM

In 2018, the pitchers have benefited from having three historically awful teams in the division. Nearly 60 starts against lineups that were barely better than AAA. Those lineups will be getting better. The staff lacks a true #1. While Berrios may take that step in 2019, he didn’t in 2018...and I wouldn’t mind at all the FO going aggressively for whatever #1 types (or #1-ish) might be available in the off-season.
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#6 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 07:19 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tell me Kiriloff and Lewis are ready, that Gratol is going to make the jump.Then I get excited.  

Kiriloff and Lewis are ready.Gatorade is going to make the jump. It's time for you to get excited.

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#7 DocBauer

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 07:35 PM

In theory, I agree with you Ted. Despite a strong finish from Odorozzi...possibly having something to to with his sudden fondness for pitching from the stretch...this season and history really seems to mark him as a 5th SP on a good staff. And that's fine.

Pineda not getting a chance to finish the year in the bigs clouds his opportunity somewhat for 2019. But milb or not, he seemed to be healthy and throwing pretty well during his rehab.

To me, Romero is a key. In a year or so, he could surpass Berrios even in the rotation.

I still wonder about a quality addition. If it happens, I could see Pineda or Odorizzi becoming an excellent bullpen piece.
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#8 ScooterDance

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 07:41 PM

A lot of things went wrong this year. A lot of things went right last year. If things go somewhere comfortably in between next year, we're probably above .500 and at least have a shot.

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#9 Tomj14

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 08:17 PM

"Any arm brought in should be at the quality of Gibson and Odorizzi or better."

You mean like Lance Lynn?


#10 Jacksson

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 08:40 PM

What would be the ERA's of the starters if you adjusted the earned runs by subtracting all of the inherited runners that were allowed to score by our relief corps? Hence, the real problem, which is actually two fold. The starters are throwing too many pitches and not getting deep enough into games. This puts more pressure on the bullpen on a night after night after night basis. Instead of just having to cover innings 8 & 9, the bullpen is having to cover innings 6, 7, 8, 9. In some cases the bullpen is used in inning #5. Not only were the 2018 veteran additions to the bullpen an absolute failure; once the team moved on from that and started to use some of the "kids" they were found to be either mentally or ability unable to step up. The biggest problem seems to be between their ears. Either that, or (as in the case with Alex Pressly) the Manager, Pitching Coach, Bullpen Coach and assorted catchers have no clue as to how to properly utilize their bullpen resources.
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#11 The Wise One

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 11:51 PM

There will always be some reason for optimism. The people who want it will embrace what can go right. There is the other side of the coin.

#12 The Wise One

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 11:55 PM

What would be the ERA's of the starters if you adjusted the earned runs by subtracting all of the inherited runners that were allowed to score by our relief corps? Hence, the real problem, which is actually two fold. The starters are throwing too many pitches and not getting deep enough into games. This puts more pressure on the bullpen on a night after night after night basis. Instead of just having to cover innings 8 & 9, the bullpen is having to cover innings 6, 7, 8, 9. In some cases the bullpen is used in inning #5. Not only were the 2018 veteran additions to the bullpen an absolute failure; once the team moved on from that and started to use some of the "kids" they were found to be either mentally or ability unable to step up. The biggest problem seems to be between their ears. Either that, or (as in the case with Alex Pressly) the Manager, Pitching Coach, Bullpen Coach and assorted catchers have no clue as to how to properly utilize their bullpen resources.

when I looked at the site someone had posted the Twins had given up something like 24 inherited runners. Not good, but not so much as to change starter era significantly

#13 rdehring

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Posted 21 September 2018 - 05:55 AM

Good presentation of where the starting staff is at, Ted, thanks.

 

I have thought for some time that the FO doesn't need to do anything to the starting staff this winter.But, will they?Certainly don't need to go out and get any retread starter or another Lance Lynn.Could see them roll the dice on a AAAA guy, hoping to catch another Kluber.Also could see them upgrading Odorizzi with a trade including him, one of the seven potential young starters not named Romero, and another lower level prospect...perhaps one of the players obtained in July.

 

Maybe the biggest news we could hear this winter is signing Gibson and Berrios to extensions...get this done.

 

But as pointed out above, to improve in 2019 the bullpen has to get better.And all indications are the guys we all have wanted to see from Rochester aren't the answer, at least for 2019.

 

 

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#14 USAFChief

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Posted 21 September 2018 - 06:44 AM

In general, every team should be trying to improve every area over the winter. Standing still is how you get passed.

 

In the case of the Twins, I don't agree the Twins "have the bump covered." None of Stewart/Gonsalves/Littell should be counted on for a single productive MLB inning. Same for Pineda. They'll all likely get a chance to prove themselves, because a team doesn't just use 5 starters, but they should all be fallback options, not primary ones. I hope the Twins are looking to add, at the TOP of the rotation, at least one starter. 

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#15 TNTwinsFan

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Posted 21 September 2018 - 07:16 AM

My 2019 Hot Take: Lewis Thorpe will surprise next year. He'll be up around mid-season and stick.
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#16 RatherBeGolfing

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Posted 21 September 2018 - 08:28 AM

This team has an ok starting rotation, which yes is better than we've seen for a decade now they have to build upon it. We have two probably top 40 starters in the league in Berrios and Gibson and even they have question marks. Every other guy on our staff has serious question marks. Relying on that and having the logic of "they should be fine/we should be ok there/I think we're good enough to get by" is a good way to just stay average but not actually improve.

 

And don't get me started on the bullpen...

Edited by RatherBeGolfing, 21 September 2018 - 08:28 AM.

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#17 clutchhittin18

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Posted 21 September 2018 - 09:08 AM

 

when I looked at the site someone had posted the Twins had given up something like 24 inherited runners. Not good, but not so much as to change starter era significantly

 

I would also add that not having Buxton in center for much of the season does make a difference on pitcher's ERA as well.For reference, Buxton played 140 games last season, but only 28 this season.I know our other players are good, but sometimes Buxton makes a play nobody else does.

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#18 Original Whizzinator

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Posted 21 September 2018 - 10:27 AM

[quote name="mikelink45" timestamp="1537490370"]Wow is this optimism over the top. Pineda, who the hell knows what he will bring. This is not a former Cy Young pitcher. He has been injured then injured again. Do you think that the Yankees wanted to keep him? Odorizzi has really risen to the top versus the Tigers and Royals! Sorry the old SSS comes in to play when we look at his top efforts. I want him to succeed, but lets see.


Odorizzi took a shut out into the 8th against the Yanks I think.

#19 JLease

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Posted 21 September 2018 - 10:41 AM

 

In general, every team should be trying to improve every area over the winter. Standing still is how you get passed.

 

In the case of the Twins, I don't agree the Twins "have the bump covered." None of Stewart/Gonsalves/Littell should be counted on for a single productive MLB inning. Same for Pineda. They'll all likely get a chance to prove themselves, because a team doesn't just use 5 starters, but they should all be fallback options, not primary ones. I hope the Twins are looking to add, at the TOP of the rotation, at least one starter. 

 

I think by "covered" Ted is suggesting that for the first time in a long while we don't have the same kinds of desperate needs to sign a starter. There's a legitimate possibility that the twins could cover their starting pitching through internal assets, which is something that would have been ridiculous to state as recently as a year ago.

 

I'm sure the Twins will explore adding another starter, and almost certainly one that would fit closer to the top than the bottom. But part of the point here is we don't have a team that absolutely needs to sign a back of the rotation guy just to be able to fill out the staff. That's a good thing and a real improvement.

 

I'm not in the "we need an ace or it's all a bust!" mode that some Twins fans seem to be in. I'd be happy to add a guy who falls into the category of "better than Kyle Gibson" if we can't sign one of the upper-upper-echelon guys; there has to be a realization that there are very few of those and betting the house on landing one isn't much of a strategy.

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#20 Dantes929

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Posted 21 September 2018 - 11:03 AM

Ok, the Twins are middle of the pack in strikeouts which is an improvement but they are 23rd in ERA. I know a lot of fans and advanced stats people love strikeouts. I like them but I HATE walks and judging by the games I watched and my review of MLB on games I missed every guy the Twins walked ended up scoring. Ok, big hyperbole there but middle of the pack in strikeouts and toward the bottom in run prevention is not a good trade off for me and I consider a main culprit to be that we are near the top in walks allowed.We are third in the AL behind Whites Sox and the Orioles. I don't think it is coincidence that those are two of the few teams that have a worse ERA and it is not the kind of company I would like to keep.Seriously, it seemed like walks were involved in nearly all the key rallies by the other team during the season.I was never a critic of the theory of pitch to contact just a critic of the Twins execution.I am not a critic of the miss the bat theory but I think the Twins are doing a poor job of that also.They are missing bats enough but missing the zone way too much.

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