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Front Page: Damage Control: Pitching is Minnesota's Primary Advantage in ALDS

jose berrios jake odorizzi taylor rogers trevor may tyler duffey
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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 01 October 2019 - 09:07 PM

The two highest-scoring offenses in baseball will be squaring off when Minnesota meets New York in the ALDS later this week. When it comes to offensive prowess, it's nearly impossible to appoint an advantage between these evenly-matched bunches of sluggers.

But the Twins do have a clear edge in one area – one which appeared at the outset of the season (and even two months ago) to be their greatest weakness: pitching.STARTING PITCHING

The Twins have question marks in the rotation, yes, but the Yankees even more so.

Minnesota ranks 11th among MLB teams in starting pitching ERA, and seventh in WAR. New York ranks 11th and 17th, respectively.

While the Twins may lack a prototypical ace, their top two starters have easily outperformed their Bronx counterparts:

Jose Berrios: 200.1 IP, 3.68 ERA, 124 ERA+, 3.68 FIP, 1.22 WHIP
Jake Odorizzi: 159 IP, 3.51 ERA, 131 ERA+, 3.35 FIP, 1.21 WHIP

Here's take a look at New York's top two starters this year:

James Paxton: 150.2 IP, 3.82 ERA, 116 ERA+, 3.86 FIP, 1.28 WHIP
Masahiro Tanaka: 182 IP, 4.45 ERA, 100 ERA+, 4.27 FIP, 1.24 WHIP

The caveat here is that New York also has Luis Severino, who's likely their best starter on talent alone. But Severino missed almost the entire season with a shoulder injury, coming back to make three appearances in September. He pitched well in those appearances (1.50 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 12 innings) but still... he's barely pitched. CC Sabathia is no more than a mediocre long reliever at this point, and J.A. Happ has had a crummy season though he did finish it strong.

Interestingly, both rotations are without key third pieces due to self-created messes. The Twins are obviously missing Michael Pineda, who received a PED suspension in early September. Meanwhile, Yankees right-hander Domingo German was 18-4 with a 4.03 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 153-to-39 K/BB ratio before being placed on administrative leave in mid-September due to domestic violence allegations.

Depending on your level of belief in Randy Dobnak, the Twins have either a slight or considerable advantage in starting pitching in the first round – a chasmic difference from a scenario where they would've drawn Houston.

RELIEF PITCHING

The Yankees spent big to build a power bullpen, and to an extent it has paid off. The $39 million trio of Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton and Adam Ottavino has been phenomenal. New York has a couple of other rock-solid relief arms in Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle. But they're without an essential fixture in Dellin Betances, who suffered a partial Achilles tear and is done for the year.

Minnesota's top three bullpen arms – Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey and Trevor May – are roughly equivalent to New York's prime trio, at about 10% of the cost. But the next wave of depth is where the Twins start to pull away: Zack Littell, Cody Stashak, Sergio Romo, and the electric wild-card that is Brusdar Graterol... these guys have the performance and stuff to inspire confidence. The absence of deadline dud Sam Dyson barely even seems to factor – certainly not the extent of Betances for New York.

In terms of season numbers, these two clubs are very comparable. New York ranks second in bullpen WAR at 7.5, while Minnesota is third at 7.3. New York ranks ninth in bullpen ERA at 4.08, Minnesota ranks 10th at 4.17. Minnesota ranks first in bullpen FIP at 3.92, New York ranks ninth 4.15.

You could argue that the Yankees are equal or even superior in this department on some of those counts, but in present terms, overall numbers overstate the impact of Betances for New York, and understate the impact of guys like Duffey and Stashak for Minnesota. Since the All-Star break, the Twins edge the Yankees in basically every measure. In fact, since the All-Star break, Minnesota's bullpen is conquering the world according to certain metrics. For example...

Top Second-Half Bullpen WAR:

1. MIN - 4.8
2. TB - 3.7
3. NYY - 3.7
4. SD - 3.4
5. BOS - 2.7

That's some gap at the top. Rocco Baldelli told media on Tuesday, "Right now I think we have one of the best bullpens I've ever seen." And really, it's not a ridiculous statement. This unit is a strength unrivaled by any other team in this postseason mix. Given the immense relief struggles the Twins were facing around the deadline, and the total fizzling of their marquee addition at that time, this is a borderline miraculous development.

It may be the story of the season in a year where the Twins sent two starters to the All-Star Game and set the MLB home run record. Amidst all the talk of these two powerful lineups clashing, not enough attention is being paid to Minnesota's elite, spectacular bullpen. That depth will come heavily into play as Baldelli attempts to navigate this series with a shorthanded rotation.

In all likelihood, neither of these imposing lineups are getting silenced. In a series like this, it's about damage control. That happens to be Minnesota's primary advantage on paper.

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#2 mrtwinsfan

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Posted 01 October 2019 - 09:24 PM

What a wonderful articleWho would of thoughtat the break,Great Job to the whole orginazation,

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#3 Aerodeliria

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Posted 01 October 2019 - 10:04 PM

I thought I read somewhere in TD a plea to attack the heart of the Yankee's lineup. I couldn't agree more--go right after them. Keep getting ahead in those counts. Make the Yankees beat you by swinging at pitches while they are behind in the count rather than ahead. If we can avoid the 3-0, 3-1 and 2-0 pitch counts, we'll be fine.

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#4 mikelink45

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Posted 01 October 2019 - 10:36 PM

How many teams sites are writing this same kind of article.It is the responsibility of all fans to think that they are the best.Tonight the Nationals and the Brewers were in one of those games where all the predictions and comparisons came apart when the rookie right fielder misplayed a ball in right field.The one thing none of us can do is predict the misplays, the errors, and the bounces that actually overwrite the factors that we try to analyze. 

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#5 KirbyDome89

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Posted 01 October 2019 - 11:06 PM

Jose Berrios 2nd Half: 4.46 ERA, OPS against went from .671 to .755 and his SO/W went from 4.52 to 3.25

James Paxton 2nd Half: 3.63 ERA punctuated by a 1.05 ERA over 5 September starts

 

Odorizzi has better numbers than Tanaka essentially all year, with each having their own rough patches so if you're a believer in him not giving up homers at Yankee Stadium that's your advantage. 

 

Severino is a no brainer over Dobnak. If Severino is healthy, and it appears he is, the lack of innings shouldn't matter. It seems silly to knock him for throwing only 12 innings when Dobnak has tossed 28 in his entire career. 

 

I'd take Rogers over any of the back end guys mentioned, but May and Duffey aren't on par with any of the 3 big arms at the back of the NY pen. May has turned it on this half and Duffey has been solid all year when given the opportunity and maybe this is their coming out party but IMO that's still advantage NY. 

 

As far as the rest of the bullpens go

NY: Gearrin, Hale, Cessa, Kahnle, Green, ect...

MN: Littell, Stashak, Romo, Graterol, Smeltzer, ect...

 

That feels like a push. I won't feel particularly confident watching some of those guys take the mound for the first time, although NY fans probably feel the same after watching that series at Target Field. 

 

If the Twins have an advantage, it's that they have an offense capable of keeping them in every game. They've shown time and agin this season they're capable of whittling away leads or downright exploding to take over games. I'm excited to watch them swing the bats, i'm anxious about how the pitching staff will perform, especially in NY. 

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#6 In My La-Z-boy

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 06:58 AM

MLB Tonight had a good piece on Berrios - When he is on - he is throwing it high and hard inside to right handers. When he is off - he isn't throwing high inside heat to righty's. Our advantage is also our lefty dominant lineup. NY will be throwing righty's at us all weekend.

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#7 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 07:15 AM

We certainly match up well enough with the Yankees to beat them, so that's good... I'm not ready to say that I'm confident yet... We know full well that the borderline strikes will go to NY and if Phil Cuzzi is working the game... well... we saw that too...

 

That's not an excuse though. I'm curious if Rocco's team will have a bit more swagger than Gardy ever had. Part of me will be happy if this just goes to game 5. 

 

As for beating them... I really think we're trying to talk ourselves up a bit. The pen is an obvious advantage. The lineups are a push (and it really may be the difference of who heals this week and who doesn't). I don't think we have the advantage with starters. Berrios has not been impressive of late... I'm hoping he's figured that out as his last few starts have been pretty good, but this half was forgettable. I don't like Odorizzi at all at Yankee stadium, and Dobnak is a really big wildcard. In my opinion, he's the unquestioned #2 right now, but he's never faced a team like this one. He's started all of 5 MLB games... Let's not forget that Romero was pretty good in his first 5 games... and look at him now. Yeah, I'm going into 2020 with him in the rotation, but he's not a lock by any means. This will be his toughest test yet. 

 

None of these guys have much in terms of playoff experience either (that's largely true of our pen and lineup too), so seeing a meltdown from 1 or 3 of the starters is not unreasonable. The Yankees do this every year. Perhaps Severino melts down like he did in 2017, but we could easily see any or all of our starters pull an Ervin. 

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#8 Riverbrian

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 08:07 AM

How many teams sites are writing this same kind of article. It is the responsibility of all fans to think that they are the best. Tonight the Nationals and the Brewers were in one of those games where all the predictions and comparisons came apart when the rookie right fielder misplayed a ball in right field. The one thing none of us can do is predict the misplays, the errors, and the bounces that actually overwrite the factors that we try to analyze.


Agree with your overall sentiment. It’s baseball and weird things happen. Everyone is expecting a slugfest between the Yankees and Twins and we may end up with pitching duels and if that happens I won’t be shocked because the baseball gods love that sort of thing. The game isn’t played on paper and this is small sample size on steroids. The Nats Brewers last night was exhibit 20,689 of the baseball gods at work. I won’t have time to list the other 20,688 examples.

When it comes to this article... Roles no longer matter... it’s all hands on deck. Do we have enough pitching? Do the Yankees? I don’t know. Let’s find out.

P.S. I disagree with the misplay characterization on the rookie in RF. That was crazy spin on a ball in a situation that any RF would charge full speed to make a throw home to nail the tying run if possible. I think nearly every RF would be in danger of a similar result. Bad hip provided by the baseball gods. Much like the broken bat bloop hit from Zimmerman.
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#9 Dantes929

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 08:08 AM

 

How many teams sites are writing this same kind of article.It is the responsibility of all fans to think that they are the best.Tonight the Nationals and the Brewers were in one of those games where all the predictions and comparisons came apart when the rookie right fielder misplayed a ball in right field.The one thing none of us can do is predict the misplays, the errors, and the bounces that actually overwrite the factors that we try to analyze. 

I think the best odds before the series starts is that the Yankees win 3-2.Next most likely result is the Twins win 3-2.Third most likely is the Yankees win 3-1.4th most likely is the Twins win 3-1. 5th most likely is a Yankees sweep.6th most likely is Twins sweep. Like you say, wind, nerves, bounces, missed calls (even balls and strikes), heroics and failures all come into play and make mockery of predictionsbut the Yankees are still slight favorites to win the first game. If the Twins win Friday they eliminate the least favorable result (Yankees sweep) and turn all the other odds around., but before the series starts the Yankees are favored no matter how much spin you want to put on it.If you want silver lining I would say the Twins have a better chance against the Yankees than against the Astros and they have a better chance against the Yankees this year than the Twins had against the Tigers in 87.

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#10 birdwatcher

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 08:18 AM

I'm less qualified to venture an opinion on the subject than most. Maybe this is why I'm failing to see and be convinced that the Twins, on paper, hold an advantage in any area in this series. In fact, I'm not convinced the Yankees don't hold a slight advantage in the bullpen, rotation, and lineup, and maybe game management too.

 

I'm neither pessimistic or optimistic. We need Kepler at semi-full strength and making contributions, Arraez healthy, and for the players to stay composed and to step up in those big situations.

 

I'm hoping for a memorable 5-game affair.

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#11 Linus

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 08:41 AM

All the quirkiness of baseball is true. Especially if Phil Cuzzi has the left field line
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#12 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 08:44 AM

 

Jose Berrios 2nd Half: 4.46 ERA, OPS against went from .671 to .755 and his SO/W went from 4.52 to 3.25

James Paxton 2nd Half: 3.63 ERA punctuated by a 1.05 ERA over 5 September starts

 

Odorizzi has better numbers than Tanaka essentially all year, with each having their own rough patches so if you're a believer in him not giving up homers at Yankee Stadium that's your advantage. 

 

Severino is a no brainer over Dobnak. If Severino is healthy, and it appears he is, the lack of innings shouldn't matter. It seems silly to knock him for throwing only 12 innings when Dobnak has tossed 28 in his entire career. 

 

I'd take Rogers over any of the back end guys mentioned, but May and Duffey aren't on par with any of the 3 big arms at the back of the NY pen. May has turned it on this half and Duffey has been solid all year when given the opportunity and maybe this is their coming out party but IMO that's still advantage NY. 

 

As far as the rest of the bullpens go

NY: Gearrin, Hale, Cessa, Kahnle, Green, ect...

MN: Littell, Stashak, Romo, Graterol, Smeltzer, ect...

 

That feels like a push. I won't feel particularly confident watching some of those guys take the mound for the first time, although NY fans probably feel the same after watching that series at Target Field. 

 

If the Twins have an advantage, it's that they have an offense capable of keeping them in every game. They've shown time and agin this season they're capable of whittling away leads or downright exploding to take over games. I'm excited to watch them swing the bats, i'm anxious about how the pitching staff will perform, especially in NY. 

I agree with a lot of what you said here except for a few points:

 

- I'd put Duffey against any reliever right now. He might be the best reliever in baseball in the second half of 2019: 1.53 ERA, .468 OPS against, 14.4 K/9. That's absurd.

 

- Berrios has struggled in the second half but started to improve as more rest was given. What Berrios will we get on Friday? I have no idea but there's a good chance he looks more like the first half Jose than the second half Jose.

 

- What worries me most is the Minnesota offense limping into the postseason due to injury while New York appears to be sailing into the postseason. When healthy, these two offenses can go toe-to-toe and mash. But right now, I'm not sure what kind of Minnesota offense we're going to get.

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#13 SpicyGarvSauce

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 09:15 AM

Good, informative article...but I am skeptic to get too excited about Minnesota having any advantage over the Yankees. Berrios's numbers are a bit skewed too, and Paxton has been damn good in September. SSS, but still.

 

Maybe it is the previous heartbreak that I have endured when watching the Twins play the Yankees, but I am just not too confident at this point.


#14 dex8425

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 09:58 AM

If I've learned anything from watching baseball for 28 years, it's that baseball is weird and unpredictable. Exhibit A would be last night. HOF pitcher gives up three runs early. Brewers best reliever gives up three runs in one inning and the Nationals win. 

 

I could foresee a scenario where Berrios is dominant or where Berrios gives up 4 runs and goes 5 innings. Heck, I could say the same thing about Dobnak and Odorizzi. I could see us scoring 10 runs in game one and I could envision us scoring 2. Anything can happen in a 5 game series. 

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#15 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 10:01 AM

 

If I've learned anything from watching baseball for 28 years, it's that baseball is weird and unpredictable. Exhibit A would be last night. HOF pitcher gives up three runs early. Brewers best reliever gives up three runs in one inning and the Nationals win.

To be fair, the Brewers reliever isn't the one who inexplicably ran right past the baseball.

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#16 dex8425

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 10:06 AM

 

To be fair, the Brewers reliever isn't the one who inexplicably ran right past the baseball.

Ha! True, but Hader really did struggle with control last night. The Zimmermann hit was super cheap though. 

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#17 KFEY93

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 10:07 AM

 

Agree with your overall sentiment. It’s baseball and weird things happen. Everyone is expecting a slugfest between the Yankees and Twins and we may end up with pitching duels and if that happens I won’t be shocked because the baseball gods love that sort of thing. The game isn’t played on paper and this is small sample size on steroids. The Nats Brewers last night was exhibit 20,689 of the baseball gods at work. I won’t have time to list the other 20,688 examples.

When it comes to this article... Roles no longer matter... it’s all hands on deck. Do we have enough pitching? Do the Yankees? I don’t know. Let’s find out.

P.S. I disagree with the misplay characterization on the rookie in RF. That was crazy spin on a ball in a situation that any RF would charge full speed to make a throw home to nail the tying run if possible. I think nearly every RF would be in danger of a similar result. Bad hip provided by the baseball gods. Much like the broken bat bloop hit from Zimmerman.

In regards to the RF play. Not true, at least, not if you're thinking right. There were two outs, bases loaded, down late in the game. Every single runner was off with the crack of the bat, as soon as that ball left the bat, two runners are scoring...period..end of discussion no one is going to get hosed at home. Best case scenario you get the ball into home plate right after the 2nd runner scores. He should have got in front of the ball, regardless of nasty spin on it and kept it in front of him and keep the game tied and live to see another batter, or possibly get the game to extras. That was a rookie way to approach a hit to the outfield with two outs. 


#18 Kelly Vance

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 10:08 AM

Yanks are favored and should be. Opening at Yankee stadium is a mixed blessing. Twins are road warriors this year, but the Yankees are home and will get close calls on balls and strikes.

 

I think the Yankees have the experience "been there before" factor. Berrios and Odo have been inconsistent lately. But either one, if he is on, can shut down the Yankees. 

 

We have a lot of injuries and even if Keps and Marwan are back, it takes a while to get in a groove.Its going to be like opening day for them.We won't see Luis until next week.So I think Rosario and Sano are the key.If they are more selective at the plate and swing only at strikes we could see two homer games from either. I think the Yankees try to pitch around Cruz. 

 

Thing for me is, we have dangerous hitters 1-9. No easy outs anywhere. I want to believe that Marwan comes back like he did a few weeks ago and rakes in his first at bats. If Keps has his timing, he might be the difference maker.

Edited by Kelly Vance, 02 October 2019 - 10:16 AM.

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#19 Nick Nelson

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 10:40 AM

 

Severino is a no brainer over Dobnak. If Severino is healthy, and it appears he is, the lack of innings shouldn't matter. It seems silly to knock him for throwing only 12 innings when Dobnak has tossed 28 in his entire career. 

It's about stamina and length. Dobnak threw 135 (dominant) innings in the minors this year in addition to his 28 with MIN. Severino has literally thrown 13 innings all year, total, and he hasn't been stretched out past 80 pitches in an outing. 

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#20 KirbyDome89

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 11:44 AM

 

It's about stamina and length. Dobnak threw 135 (dominant) innings in the minors this year in addition to his 28 with MIN. Severino has literally thrown 13 innings all year, total, and he hasn't been stretched out past 80 pitches in an outing. 

Dobnak has made 9 appearances and in 5 of those games he threw 3 or fewer innings. Two weeks ago was the first time he's thrown more than 4 innings in a game. Severino, even with a pitch count of 80, can give NY that kind of distance, so we're really talking about talent, and that easily favors NY.  

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