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Article: MIN 6, DET 4: Berrios Figures It Out, Bullpen Barely Hangs On

jose berrios mitch garver trevor hildenberger c.j. cron byron buxton
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#1 Tom Froemming

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 03:40 PM

This may have been Mitch Garver’s best overall game as a Twin. He was doing his thing at the plate, hitting a pair of hard doubles to go with a walk, but it was also impressive how he and Jose Berrios worked through an afternoon in which the Twins’ ace didn’t have his best command. Those two haven’t had much success together to this point, but they figured it out today.Box Score
Berrios: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 67.3% strikes
Home Runs: Cron (1), Rosario (3)
Multi-Hit Games: Rosario (3-for-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R), Polanco (2-for-4), Cruz (2-for-4, R), Garver (2-for-3, 2 2B, BB, R), Buxton (2-for-4, 2B, RBI)
WPA of +0.1: Hildenberger .283, Rogers .172, Cron .153, Berrios .142, Rosario .131, Buxton .103
WPA of -0.1: Schoop -.111, May -.175, Parker -.204
Download attachment: Win414.png
(chart via FanGraphs)

Berrios pitched to Jason Castro in all three of his previous starts coming into today. That combo seemed to make a lot of sense, as Berrios entered today’s game with a 4.56 ERA in 71 innings pitched to Garver, a full run higher than his ERA with Castro (he’s only pitched 18 2/3 innings to Willians Astudillo).

The Berrios-Garver duo got off to a bit of a rocky start, but there was no harm done. It took Berrios 27 pitches to get through the first inning, but the Tigers were held scoreless. They weren’t as lucky in the second, as Berrios gave up a double to Ronny Rodriguez, then a two-run homer to Gordon Beckham.

Regardless of any pitch calling or receiving elements, Berrios just didn’t look especially sharp early on after having six days off. His command of his offspeed pitches was nowhere near as good as it had been in his previous starts so far this season. He had been using his curveball a ton, increasing his usage of that offering from 30.4% last year to 42.9% so far this year, but that pitch wasn’t worthy of being featured as such today.

That lack of command didn’t show up in the box score, as his control was good enough to where he only walked one batter and hit another, but he was not spotting those offspeed pitches. But they figured it out.

Berrios (and Garver) decreased the dependency on that curveball and instead went to more sinkers today. Jose had been throwing that pitch 16.4% of the time so far this year, but threw the sinker 26 times today among his 98 pitches.

The result seemed to be that Berrios’ four-seam fastball really played up. Berrios got 14 swinging strikes, nine of which came on the four-seamer. That’s very unusual, as Berrios typically gets a much higher percentage of swings and misses on his offspeed offerings.

Berrios didn’t get a single swinging strike on a four-seam fastball in his last start against the Phillies, he got just one in his start before that at Kansas City and three on Opening Day against Cleveland. Add it all up, and Berrios had just four swinging strikes on 87 four-seam fastballs heading into today (4.6%). He had nine on just 35 four-seamers this afternoon (25.7%).

Assessing what’s working, what isn’t and making proper adjustments is typically a collaboration between the pitcher and the catcher. You may have some input from coaches between innings, but all the adjustments made on the fly are between those two guys on the field. It’s still very much worth monitoring how Berrios and Garver work together going forward, as I think we all expect those two to be playing together for quite some time, but it was a very encouraging afternoon.

Below you can see all the balls and called strikes for Berrios. We’ve had some fun analyzing and discussing these charts, which come from MLB’s StatCast data via Baseball Savant. It’s sort of like a work of art in that not everyone will see the same thing, and I always like to point out the top and bottom of the strike zone isn’t the same for every batter, but to my eyes Garver had a very good afternoon, especially by his standards. He also smothered several balls in the dirt with runners on in the eighth and ninth innings.
Download attachment: GarverChart.png
Garver was a force at the plate once again, something you’d have to figure the pitching staff also appreciates. He was 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a walk. That puts him up to 11-for-22 on the season with three home runs and three doubles.

Garver, C.J. Cron and Byron Buxton all hit two balls in excess of 105 mph. Altogether, the Twins combined for nine balls hit at a 105 mph exit velocity or harder. Cron’s first homer as a Twin was an absolute laser beam.

The Twins also played excellent defense today. Jorge Polanco made a web gem and Cron had several beautiful scoops, but nothing beats this great catch made by Buxton as he crashed into the wall.

The Twins led 6-2 heading into the eighth inning, but things got a little hairy with the bullpen. Trevor May ran into trouble, the Tigers managed to score two runs in the eighth, but Taylor Rogers ended up pitching out of a jam, leaving the bases loaded.

Blake Parker came out for the ninth to attempt to record his fourth save as a Twin. He had a bit of an adventure in picking up the save on Saturday and his career ERA on zero days rest is 5.18, so there was plenty of reason for anxiety.

Parker gave up a leadoff infield single on a hot grounder Polanco couldn’t quite handle. Parker walked the next batter, putting the game-tying run on base with no outs for Miguel Cabrera. Anxiety level rising.

Parker fell behind Cabrera 3-1 — teetering on a panic attack now — but battled back to strike him out. A nine-pitch battle with Christin Stewart followed, Parker walked him and was done for the day after needing 29 pitches to record one out.

Trevor Hildenberger came in and struck out the next two batters to strand the bases loaded and earn his first save of the season, the ninth of his career. After inheriting 25 runners in 73 appearances last year, Hildenberger has already inherited 14 runners in just eight games this season. His resurgence has been invaluable to the Twins’ bullpen thus far.

Postgame With Baldelli

Bullpen Usage
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Download attachment: Bullpen414.png
Next Three Games
Mon vs. TOR, 6:40 pm CT (Perez-Shoemaker)
Tue vs. TOR, 6:40 pm CT (Gibson-Sanchez)
Wed vs. TOR, 6:40 pm CT (Odorizzi-Thornton)

Last Game
MIN 4, DET 3: Bats Quiet, Bullpen Hangs On

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#2 Original Whizzinator

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 03:53 PM

"and his career ERA on zero days rest is 5.18, so there was plenty of reason for anxiety." I thought Hildy was the call for the ninth today but i guess that wouldn't be orthodox. Who could have ever guessed Rogers would become the weapon he is? Another bonus is the resurgence of Hildy.
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#3 PDX Twin

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 03:55 PM

One of the things I like a lot about this squad is its depth. The hitters can make a positive impact 1 through 9. The pitching staff less so, but if Gibson gets going and Odorizzi figures out how not to be wild after 4 innings, there are at least four guys who should give you a chance to win. Although the average quality in the bullpen could be better, we are not dependent on a Joe Nathan to clean up every game.

 

Winning games like yesterday's and today's makes a big difference at the end of the season. Two losses and we are .500. Two wins and we top the division.

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It's great to get out of the cellar ... as long as you bring something with you.


#4 The Mask of Zoilo

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 04:08 PM

I wonder how long it will take for the Twins to go to an 8 man bullpen. They could stick with 7 and rotate Vasquez and Harper down to AAA for fresh arms, but rotate with whom besides Romero? If youre going to have Harper and Vasquez in the pen youre going to have to trust them enough to use them or else you'll end up like Molitor and overuse 3 or 4 guys.
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#5 Jacksson

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 04:20 PM

Harper has at least shown SOMETHING.
Vasquez has earned a ticket back to Rochester.
Bring on Stewart or Romero.
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#6 The Mask of Zoilo

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 04:30 PM

Harper has at least shown SOMETHING.Vasquez has earned a ticket back to Rochester.Bring on Stewart or Romero.


Harper has pitched great, it just seems theyre using him mostly in low leverage situations. Since there has been so many close games, we're not seeing him much. Look ahead to the next three games with Perez, Gibson and Odorizzi. Likely going to need a lot of bullpen innings and Parker, Rogers and Hildy shouldn't be available tomorrow. Need at least one more arm they can trust in high leverage situations.
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#7 spycake

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 04:42 PM

 

Blake Parker came out for the ninth to attempt to record his fourth save as a Twin. He had a bit of an adventure in picking up the save on Saturday and his career ERA on zero days rest is 5.18, so there was plenty of reason for anxiety.

I wonder how meaningful that is -- ERA on zero days rest. For a middle reliever especially, it seems like it would have a bit of bias toward facing good hitting teams -- generally speaking, that a team would need to use the same middle reliever on consecutive days suggests the other team was hitting pretty well! (There are other circumstances too, of course.)

 

Not that I wouldn't expect some performance drop-off, but it might be hard to tease out the real magnitude of that drop-off, from all the noise.

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#8 TheLeviathan

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 05:00 PM

When can we just declare Garner is a capable backstop? Every time I see him behind the dish he looks light years ahead of last year.

It may be time to bury that question and see the upside his bat brings to the Twins at that position.
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#9 MN_ExPat

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 05:34 PM

Harper has at least shown SOMETHING.Vasquez has earned a ticket back to Rochester.Bring on Stewart or Romero.


1, one, o + 1. As in One appearance. Vasquez may or may not be ready to fully contribute at the MLB level yet, but we simply cannot make that call after just one appearance.
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#10 Tom Froemming

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 05:54 PM

 

I wonder how meaningful that is -- ERA on zero days rest. For a middle reliever especially, it seems like it would have a bit of bias toward facing good hitting teams -- generally speaking, that a team would need to use the same middle reliever on consecutive days suggests the other team was hitting pretty well! (There are other circumstances too, of course.)

 

Not that I wouldn't expect some performance drop-off, but it might be hard to tease out the real magnitude of that drop-off, from all the noise.

Not sure how telling it is, but that does cover a sample of 43 appearances and a grand total of 40 innings pitched heading into today. Since the year-by-year samples are pretty tiny there's some fluctuation when you break it down that way. For example, he had a much better 3.86 ERA on no days rest last season.

 

But here's some more info for context:

0 days rest: 5.18 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 2.33 K:BB in 40 IP

All other games: 2.85 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 4.02 K:BB in 189.1 IP

 

Also, Taylor Rogers, Trevor Hildenberger and Trevor May all have a better ERA on no days rest than their career ERA. So how meaningful is that stat of Parker's? I'm not sure, but to me I think there's enough there to avoid using him in high-leverage situations on no rest whenever possible.

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#11 Seth Stohs

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 06:16 PM

 

I wonder how meaningful that is -- ERA on zero days rest. For a middle reliever especially, it seems like it would have a bit of bias toward facing good hitting teams -- generally speaking, that a team would need to use the same middle reliever on consecutive days suggests the other team was hitting pretty well! (There are other circumstances too, of course.)

 

Not that I wouldn't expect some performance drop-off, but it might be hard to tease out the real magnitude of that drop-off, from all the noise.

 

Agreed. The one-day rest ERA for Parker doesn't mean a whole lot. Right now, he just is really struggling with control. That's the issue right now. But, over the last two years, he has 35 walks in 133.2 innings pitched (2.4 BB/9), so generally he has good control. At some point, he'll find it and he'll be fine. I mean, unless there is some sort of injury or underlying, but that doesn't seem to be it. 

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#12 Tom Froemming

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 06:28 PM

 

Agreed. The one-day rest ERA for Parker doesn't mean a whole lot. Right now, he just is really struggling with control. That's the issue right now. But, over the last two years, he has 35 walks in 133.2 innings pitched (2.4 BB/9), so generally he has good control. At some point, he'll find it and he'll be fine. I mean, unless there is some sort of injury or underlying, but that doesn't seem to be it. 

 

Including today he's walked 20 batters in 40 1/3 career innings on zero days rest, or 4.46 BB/9, over his career. There's a definite trend of him not pitching like himself on zero days rest, and it's not just in the ERA.

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#13 Shaitan

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 07:03 PM

 

I wonder how long it will take for the Twins to go to an 8 man bullpen. They could stick with 7 and rotate Vasquez and Harper down to AAA for fresh arms, but rotate with whom besides Romero? If youre going to have Harper and Vasquez in the pen youre going to have to trust them enough to use them or else you'll end up like Molitor and overuse 3 or 4 guys.

Hopefully not until somebody is pushing for that job. I'm not sure anyone in AAA is at this point.


#14 jtkoupal

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 07:15 PM

Ha, the Indians got swept by the ROYALS!! But they're the runaway favorites for the AL Central. That's ok, I'd prefer the media keep the Twins under the radar, less pressure.

 

That being said, I hope our bullpen comes around. They haven't been giving up a lot of runs for the most part, but they've been shaky at times and it has required using an extra pitcher or two. With less off days coming up, this becomes a bigger problem pretty quick.

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#15 Riverbrian

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 08:12 PM

 

When can we just declare Garner is a capable backstop? Every time I see him behind the dish he looks light years ahead of last year.

It may be time to bury that question and see the upside his bat brings to the Twins at that position.

 

I agree with you. 

 

First impressions are hard to shake. 

 

I admit that I wasn't very comfortable with Garver defensively last year. I thought he was noticeably struggling during the first few months.

 

I never worried about it much because defense can be improved with a little elbow grease. Just because someone is like something at age 26... doesn't mean he has to be that way at age 27. 

 

Garver seems to be proving that. This is what all the coaches get paid to do... to teach and develop and look what he have in Garver... Someone who is developing.:)

 

 

 

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#16 Jacksson

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 08:22 PM

Another example how Lady Luck can overcome players that choke in the clutch and a manager who hasn't a clue.
Inning #1 - Kepler on @B ZERO out.
No sacrifice to move Kepler to 3B to score on a sac fly
Polanco looks slow and strikes out looking on a Fastball that was inches away from the previous curve ball.
Missed opportunity. Bailed out by Cruz and Rosario.
Same inning Rosario on 2B, Two out.
Gonzalez bounces a low and away Curve to 1B for the final out
Inning #2 - Garver on 2B, ZERO Out.
No sacrifice by Schoop. He pops out to 1B. Wasted at bat.
Buxton picks up the slack and plates Garver
With one out, both Kepler and Polanco choke and fly out.
ATTN: MANAGER, BENCH COACH, HITTING COACH = 5 players saw a total of 9 pitches.
What's up with that - in the second inning?????
INNING #3 - ONE out, Gonzalez on 2B, Garver on 1B.
Schoop chokes and grounds a low and away curve ball into an inning ending double play.
Missed scoring opportunity.
ATTN: MANAGER, BENCH COACH, HITTING COACH = 5 players saw a total of 10 pitches.
Not including Garver who saw 5 pitches himself - and walked.
What's up with that - in the third inning?????
INNING #4 - Buxton on 1B ZERO out.
NO sacrifice, no attempt to steal 2B
Kepler chokes and grounds into a double play.
The DP is followed by 2 singles, before Rosario pops out to SS n a low and away Fast ball.
INNING #5 Garver on 2B, TWO OUT.
A hit means a run and Schoop grounds out to 3B on the first pitch he sees, a slider inside.
INNING #6 - Polanco on 2B via single and wild pitch. Two Out.
Cruz whiffs on a low inside slider on his 9th pitch of the at bat.
INNING #7 - Cron on 1B ZERO out.
No sacrifice, runner is not advanced.
Gonzalez flys to LF, Garver hits a DP to 2B.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY.
ATTN MANAGER, BENCH COACH, PITCHING COACH, BULLPEN COACH:
Poor decision on bringing May in to face 1 batter in the 7th and then haul him out again to begin the 8th.
Poor decision on bringing in Parker to start the 9th, since he worked on Saturday.
FLAVINE => Get some arms Baldelli can trust, otherwise this is a repeat of Molitor's bullpen use.

#17 Sconnie

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 08:39 PM

I wonder how long it will take for the Twins to go to an 8 man bullpen. They could stick with 7 and rotate Vasquez and Harper down to AAA for fresh arms, but rotate with whom besides Romero? If youre going to have Harper and Vasquez in the pen youre going to have to trust them enough to use them or else you'll end up like Molitor and overuse 3 or 4 guys.

likewise with Mejia who hasn’t pitched in over a week.

#18 Riverbrian

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 08:49 PM

I'd like to add that Byron Buxton hasn't been striking out at past levels. 

 

If he makes more consistent contact... the world is about to become his oyster.

 

Even if I don't understand the phrase or it's oyster origin. I sincerely mean it. 

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#19 Original Whizzinator

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 09:12 PM

I think Byron Buxton might be pretty good. After all the sturm und drang I guess he just starts playing like a star? Hilarious. Is he still a Twin? Good thing they treated him like crap last fall ☺. Pretty good stuff. Makes me wonder what's in store when Sano finally starts playing this year.

#20 Old Twins Cap

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 09:24 PM

You know Buxton is different when, in the 8th, he gets down 0-2 and takes three straight close pitches and doesn't offer.

 

Then fouls off three straight pitches.

 

Then just misses on a fast ball and hits a huge fly to center.

 

If he barrels that, it goes upper deck.

 

But, he playing the game now.

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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: jose berrios, mitch garver, trevor hildenberger, c.j. cron, byron buxton