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How the internal (back-end) pitching options stack up for the Twins this year

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#1 AlwaysinModeration

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 02:12 PM

There seems to be a general consensus that the Twins are in desperate need of at least one additional starting pitcher for their rotation. I think the options are familiar to most on this site. We know that they have Berrios and Odorizzi at the top of the rotation, and Michael Pineda will join them after 39 games. Beyond that, they have veteran Homer Bailey for the season, with Rich Hill hopefully coming back in the second half of the season from surgery. For the remainder of the rotation, the standard line is that the foursome of Dobnak, Smeltzer, Graterol and Thorpe will compete for innings. I'd thought I’d to take a look at the stats of these pitchers, going through a number of stats one by one, to see how these pitchers look. I'm going to add Fernando Romero into this analysis, as well.

Here are the stats I will look at, and since these five haven’t gotten much exposure in the majors, I will be focusing primarily on their minor league numbers: IP and age, ERA, WHIP, H/9, HR/9, BB/9, SO/9, SO/BB. I’ll also look at stats for the other starters for a comparison, seeing how their minors numbers match up, and how their numbers evolved when they moved to the majors.

To start with, IP and age:
On opening day, Graterol will be 21 and has logged 214 IP in the minors, Thorpe will be 23 with 423IP, Smeltzer 24 with 351IP, Dobnak 25 with 297IP and Romero 25 with 450IP. In terms of “earning” their opportunity with a large volume of minors innings, Romero and Thorpe are in front here, while Graterol has half as many innings. For comparison sake, let’s look at Berrios, Odorizzi, Pineda, Hill, Bailey, and for kicks, Zack Wheeler and Taijuan Walker. Among these established big-leagers, the only player with fewer than 400IP in the minors is Wheeler. Berrios had nearly 600IP in the minors. From this view, it makes sense that Graterol actually log more time in the minors, rather than start the season with the Twins.

ERA: Dobnak (2.57) and Graterol (2.48) were elite in the minors in this regard, both well below 3 for their minors career. Romero wasn’t far behind (3.20), while Thorpe was ok (3.50), but Smeltzer wasn't really good here (3.97.) In our comparison group, Berrios (2.77) and Pineda (2.55) were under 3 in the minors. On average, our seven veteran players have a 0.75 higher ERA in the majors compared to their minors numbers. If you add 0.75ERA to our contenders’ stats, Dobnak and Graterol’s ERAs would still look good, but Smeltzer’s would not.

WHIP: Dobnak (1.10) and Graterol (1.07) were again elite in this category, the only two of the five contenders under 1.20 in their minors career. Thorpe (1.21) is close, with Smeltzer (1.24) and Romero (1.26) trailing. Among our veterans, again we see that Berrios (1.08) and Pineda (1.09) were both elite in the minors. Pineda is the only veteran who has excelled in this regard in the majors; under 1.20 in his majors career. The veterans on average see their WHIP go up 0.05 when moving from minors to the majors.

H/9: Graterol (6.9) has been by far the best of the bunch in terms of limiting hits per nine. Romero (8.0) and Thorpe (8.0) have also been strong, with Dobnak (8.1) right there as well. Smeltzer (9.1) has been very hittable. Among the veterans in the minors, Hill (6.6) Berrios (7.2) and Wheeler (7.4) limited hits quite well, with Hill as the only vet to maintain an elite level (7.4) in the majors. The veterans saw a jump of 0.8 hits per nine when moving up to the majors. If this held true for the rookies, only Graterol would be strong in this category in the big leagues, with Smeltzer suffering to limit hits at an acceptable rate.

HR/9: Romero, Dobnak and Graterol have done a good job of keeping the ball in the park, all under 0.5 homers per game. This has been a problem for Smeltzer (1.0) and Thorpe (0.9), which could bode ill for their majors careers in this regard. The veterans in general saw a pretty consistent jump of 0.5 homers per game when they got to the show. If Smeltzer and Thorpe give up homer rates of about 1.5/9, they are going to have a hard time being successful in the big leagues.

BB/9: Smeltzer (2.0) and Dobnak (1.8) have been excellent at limiting free passes, Graterol middling (2.7), while Thorpe (2.9) and Romero (3.1) has been the worst at it. This is a tough category to judge what will happen with the jump to the majors, though, as there is a split in the veterans between those who have walked fewer batters in the majors (Bailey, Hill, Wheeler, Walker), while some have stayed the same or walked more (Odorizzi, Berrios, Pineda). This seems like a key for young pitchers as they move up to the big leagues – do they reduce their walks, or increase them? Will Berrios improve in this category going forward?

K/9: Thorpe (10.9), Graterol (9.7) and Smeltzer (9.2) have done well in this category, while Dobnak (6.5) has really struggled to generate Ks. Five of the seven listed veterans had K/9s over 9 (including Hill at 11.6!) in the minors, with Pineda (8.8) and Bailey (8.7) also close. However, upon moving up to the majors, only Hill and Pineda have been able to maintain a rate of more than a K per 9 in the majors. So we’d expect the rookies to do worse in this regard.

SO/BB: Lastly, in strikeout/walk ratio, Smeltzer really stands out, with the best K/BB (4.5) rate of any of the 12 pitchers in the minors. Only Pineda (4.5) or Hill (4.0) in the majors are at 4.0 or above. The next best is Thorpe in this category, while Romero (2.8) doesn’t fare that well. Of the veterans, some have gotten better and some have gotten worse. Berrios hasn’t been able to match his minors ratio (3.8) in the majors (3.0), but hopefully the best is yet to come with him as he works to reduce free passes.

So, after going through all of these numbers, where does that leave us? I started this exercise thinking Thorpe would come out looking better than people have been giving him credit. I'm not sure that's the conclusion to draw, however. It really seem that Graterol is quite strong across the board, limiting hits, homers, while also generating elite K rates, too, leading to strong ERAs and WHIPs, despite too many walks. On balance, Dobnak is probably the second strongest contender here, strong in all categories except strikeouts. If he could increase his K-rate, he could turn into something special.

Of the rest, it is mixed. Thorpe has great K rates and limits hits, but he gives up an alarming number of homers and to some extent, walks. Romero keeps the ball in the park and limits hits, which has yielded a low ERA, but walks too many guys and doesn’t generate elite strikeout rates. Smeltzer is strong in some categories, like BB/9, K/9 and K/BB, but he is hittable and quite homer-prone.

Interestingly, there are some natural pairings when looking at the veterans and the rookies minor league careers. Graterol and Berrios have extremely similar minors numbers. Dobnak and Pineda have very similar minors numbers, with the exception of strikeouts (8.8 to 6.5/9 advantage to Pineda, although Dobnak walked fewer). Thorpe and Odorizzi have mirror-image minors numbers (Thorpe better Ks). And finally, Romero and Wheeler have pretty similar minors numbers. Bailey would be in a tier below all of them, as would Smeltzer.

We now know that Graterol is destined for the bullpen. And we know that two of the four others will likely start the year in the rotation. Based on their numbers, I’d give Dobnak the inside track for a spot, and then Romero and Thorpe neck-and-neck for the other spot. I don’t think Smeltzer measures up.

If I were going to rank these guys for the coming year, it would be:
1. [Graterol]
2. Dobnak
3. Romero
4. Thorpe
5. Smeltzer

What do others think?
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#2 jud6312

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 02:23 PM

I think it's going to be a long season once you get past Berrios and Odo.

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#3 Doctor Gast

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 02:56 PM

I think they all have somethings to work on. Romero has more to lose so I`m cheering for him. I`ve already shared my views on Graterol. W/ all the runs we are capable of all our prospect hopefully will get a lot of opportunity to work out all their problems. W/ this opportunity we could get other high upside projects


#4 tvagle

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 03:16 PM

I'm thinking we might see a Stack for the 5th spot in the rotation to start the season

 

Thorpe or Smeltzer with Graterol (one time through the lineup for each)

 

On a good day that get's you 6 innings on a bad day maybe 4

 

Good Day

 

1- Thorpe

2- Thorpe

3- Thorpe

4- Graterol

5- Graterol

6- Graterol

7- Romo

8- Duffey

9- Rogers

 

Bad Day

 

1- Thorpe

2- Thorpe

3- Graterol

4- Graterol

5- Smeltzer/Littel

6- May/Clippard

7- Romo

8- Duffey

9- Rogers

 

Assuming this is the pitching staff:

Berrios, Jose
Odorizzi, Jake
Pineda, Michael
Bailey, Homer
Thorpe, Lewis
Smeltzer, Devin
Littell, Zack
Graterol, Brusdar
Rogers, Taylor
Duffey, Tyler
May, Trevor
Romo, Sergio
Clippard, Tyler

I'm going to need a Falvine definition of the word IMPACT in regards to MLB Hurlers


#5 howieramone2

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 03:21 PM

We can win the Central in our sleep. Dobnak and Thorpe are more than good enough until the full crew arrives. At some point in time Falvey will come up with a #3, then we will deal with the Yankees.

#6 AlwaysinModeration

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 03:35 PM

We can win the Central in our sleep. Dobnak and Thorpe are more than good enough until the full crew arrives. At some point in time Falvey will come up with a #3, then we will deal with the Yankees.


I think it sets up well. It’s always good to be getting stronger as the year goes on, and with Pineda and Hill coming on in staggered fashion, they will have that. In the meantime, they can see how Dobnak, Thorpe, Romero and Bailey do.

I think they could actually be viable options for the team going forward.

I also think that Berrios has yet to show what he is fully capable of. If he starts getting closer to his minor league stats, he is going to turn into a top-tier ace.

#7 mikelink45

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 03:44 PM

Nicely done comparison.I would have Graterol start so I am already off on the predictions. I think Dobnak, giving a post season start, has the management team giving him some extra credit. I also think Romero has disappointed too many times and would do better in another organization.Thorpe is a big question mark. I don't like his consistency, but maybe he will turn the corner.Smeltzer was a good story, but I do not see him making much improvement.This leaves me close to your order.

Graterol

Dobnak

Thorpe

Smeltzer

Romero


#8 4twinsJA

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 07:22 PM

 

I like Dobnak, look for him to pass Bailey in rotation. Other starter will only be needed for 5-6 starts until Pineda gets back. I am all for a nontraditional approach to the 5th starter, 3-4 inning opener,followed another 3-4 inning pitcher. Smeltzer and Thorpe usually looked good the first time through the order last year. Twins want to limit Graterol's IP. Seems like a good match. Could see one of Thorpe, Graterol, or Smeltzer eventually passing Bailey also. I don't have much confidence in Romero. Hope I am wrong about him.


#9 DocBauer

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 08:27 PM

Before I comment, I want you to know I understand and appreciate all the work you have done here. It is very thorough and very smart analysis.

But I just can't buy in.

Smeltzer may or not make it as a SP or RP, granted. And when acquired by the Twins, he was in the pen. They kept him there initially for obvious reasons. Then they told him what to work on. And he did. And he had an amazing turnaround in 2019 that lead him to the ML and he made a nice, though limited, contribution.

I am not being nasty or mean or dismissive when I say Dobnak was a virtual nobody when 2019 began. And who knows what he is capable of. But right now, SSS or not, he has the appearance of being a "pitcher" who "gets it" vs being a thrower.

In contrast, Romero has an amazing arm who can make the baseball do some great things. But he is still a "thrower" in my mind. IMHO, the key to his potential is simple...yeah, like it's really that simple...repeat your delivery and throw it over the plate, and trust your natural arm talent to make things happen.

My point is, baseball is hard. I'm not so sure being a pitcher isn't the hardest thing to do. But there are countless BIG TIME arms who fall short or wash out. And there are just as many decent prospects who refine skills and learn how to pitch and turn out to be good-great.

I like an awful lot of these kids, who might not even be the cream of the crop we have coming up. I can't wait to see how they develop this season. Wouldn't bet against any of them at this point.
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#10 Thrylos

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 09:37 PM

Berrios, Dobnak, and Odorizzi were 0-3 in the last postseason against the Yankees.

 

They still need one or two better pitchers than Berrios/Odorizzi to be relevant next postseason.Can Graterol be one of them?Maybe, unless they keep him in the pen.Regardless, they will need to make a trade at the deadline to acquire an ace.

 

They are fine in the division, but that's not the goal here...

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#11 Vagnavs

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 09:53 PM

 

There seems to be a general consensus that the Twins are in desperate need of at least one additional starting pitcher for their rotation. I think the options are familiar to most on this site. We know that they have Berrios and Odorizzi at the top of the rotation, and Michael Pineda will join them after 39 games. Beyond that, they have veteran Homer Bailey for the season, with Rich Hill hopefully coming back in the second half of the season from surgery. For the remainder of the rotation, the standard line is that the foursome of Dobnak, Smeltzer, Graterol and Thorpe will compete for innings. I'd thought I’d to take a look at the stats of these pitchers, going through a number of stats one by one, to see how these pitchers look. I'm going to add Fernando Romero into this analysis, as well.

Here are the stats I will look at, and since these five haven’t gotten much exposure in the majors, I will be focusing primarily on their minor league numbers: IP and age, ERA, WHIP, H/9, HR/9, BB/9, SO/9, SO/BB. I’ll also look at stats for the other starters for a comparison, seeing how their minors numbers match up, and how their numbers evolved when they moved to the majors.

To start with, IP and age:
On opening day, Graterol will be 21 and has logged 214 IP in the minors, Thorpe will be 23 with 423IP, Smeltzer 24 with 351IP, Dobnak 25 with 297IP and Romero 25 with 450IP. In terms of “earning” their opportunity with a large volume of minors innings, Romero and Thorpe are in front here, while Graterol has half as many innings. For comparison sake, let’s look at Berrios, Odorizzi, Pineda, Hill, Bailey, and for kicks, Zack Wheeler and Taijuan Walker. Among these established big-leagers, the only player with fewer than 400IP in the minors is Wheeler. Berrios had nearly 600IP in the minors. From this view, it makes sense that Graterol actually log more time in the minors, rather than start the season with the Twins.

ERA: Dobnak (2.57) and Graterol (2.48) were elite in the minors in this regard, both well below 3 for their minors career. Romero wasn’t far behind (3.20), while Thorpe was ok (3.50), but Smeltzer wasn't really good here (3.97.) In our comparison group, Berrios (2.77) and Pineda (2.55) were under 3 in the minors. On average, our seven veteran players have a 0.75 higher ERA in the majors compared to their minors numbers. If you add 0.75ERA to our contenders’ stats, Dobnak and Graterol’s ERAs would still look good, but Smeltzer’s would not.

WHIP: Dobnak (1.10) and Graterol (1.07) were again elite in this category, the only two of the five contenders under 1.20 in their minors career. Thorpe (1.21) is close, with Smeltzer (1.24) and Romero (1.26) trailing. Among our veterans, again we see that Berrios (1.08) and Pineda (1.09) were both elite in the minors. Pineda is the only veteran who has excelled in this regard in the majors; under 1.20 in his majors career. The veterans on average see their WHIP go up 0.05 when moving from minors to the majors.

H/9: Graterol (6.9) has been by far the best of the bunch in terms of limiting hits per nine. Romero (8.0) and Thorpe (8.0) have also been strong, with Dobnak (8.1) right there as well. Smeltzer (9.1) has been very hittable. Among the veterans in the minors, Hill (6.6) Berrios (7.2) and Wheeler (7.4) limited hits quite well, with Hill as the only vet to maintain an elite level (7.4) in the majors. The veterans saw a jump of 0.8 hits per nine when moving up to the majors. If this held true for the rookies, only Graterol would be strong in this category in the big leagues, with Smeltzer suffering to limit hits at an acceptable rate.

HR/9: Romero, Dobnak and Graterol have done a good job of keeping the ball in the park, all under 0.5 homers per game. This has been a problem for Smeltzer (1.0) and Thorpe (0.9), which could bode ill for their majors careers in this regard. The veterans in general saw a pretty consistent jump of 0.5 homers per game when they got to the show. If Smeltzer and Thorpe give up homer rates of about 1.5/9, they are going to have a hard time being successful in the big leagues.

BB/9: Smeltzer (2.0) and Dobnak (1.8) have been excellent at limiting free passes, Graterol middling (2.7), while Thorpe (2.9) and Romero (3.1) has been the worst at it. This is a tough category to judge what will happen with the jump to the majors, though, as there is a split in the veterans between those who have walked fewer batters in the majors (Bailey, Hill, Wheeler, Walker), while some have stayed the same or walked more (Odorizzi, Berrios, Pineda). This seems like a key for young pitchers as they move up to the big leagues – do they reduce their walks, or increase them? Will Berrios improve in this category going forward?

K/9: Thorpe (10.9), Graterol (9.7) and Smeltzer (9.2) have done well in this category, while Dobnak (6.5) has really struggled to generate Ks. Five of the seven listed veterans had K/9s over 9 (including Hill at 11.6!) in the minors, with Pineda (8.8) and Bailey (8.7) also close. However, upon moving up to the majors, only Hill and Pineda have been able to maintain a rate of more than a K per 9 in the majors. So we’d expect the rookies to do worse in this regard.

SO/BB: Lastly, in strikeout/walk ratio, Smeltzer really stands out, with the best K/BB (4.5) rate of any of the 12 pitchers in the minors. Only Pineda (4.5) or Hill (4.0) in the majors are at 4.0 or above. The next best is Thorpe in this category, while Romero (2.8) doesn’t fare that well. Of the veterans, some have gotten better and some have gotten worse. Berrios hasn’t been able to match his minors ratio (3.8) in the majors (3.0), but hopefully the best is yet to come with him as he works to reduce free passes.

So, after going through all of these numbers, where does that leave us? I started this exercise thinking Thorpe would come out looking better than people have been giving him credit. I'm not sure that's the conclusion to draw, however. It really seem that Graterol is quite strong across the board, limiting hits, homers, while also generating elite K rates, too, leading to strong ERAs and WHIPs, despite too many walks. On balance, Dobnak is probably the second strongest contender here, strong in all categories except strikeouts. If he could increase his K-rate, he could turn into something special.

Of the rest, it is mixed. Thorpe has great K rates and limits hits, but he gives up an alarming number of homers and to some extent, walks. Romero keeps the ball in the park and limits hits, which has yielded a low ERA, but walks too many guys and doesn’t generate elite strikeout rates. Smeltzer is strong in some categories, like BB/9, K/9 and K/BB, but he is hittable and quite homer-prone.

Interestingly, there are some natural pairings when looking at the veterans and the rookies minor league careers. Graterol and Berrios have extremely similar minors numbers. Dobnak and Pineda have very similar minors numbers, with the exception of strikeouts (8.8 to 6.5/9 advantage to Pineda, although Dobnak walked fewer). Thorpe and Odorizzi have mirror-image minors numbers (Thorpe better Ks). And finally, Romero and Wheeler have pretty similar minors numbers. Bailey would be in a tier below all of them, as would Smeltzer.

We now know that Graterol is destined for the bullpen. And we know that two of the four others will likely start the year in the rotation. Based on their numbers, I’d give Dobnak the inside track for a spot, and then Romero and Thorpe neck-and-neck for the other spot. I don’t think Smeltzer measures up.

If I were going to rank these guys for the coming year, it would be:
1. [Graterol]
2. Dobnak
3. Romero
4. Thorpe
5. Smeltzer

What do others think?

 

I like Romero. He throws around 98+. They just have to get him straightened out..


#12 The Wise One

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 08:46 AM

 

Berrios, Dobnak, and Odorizzi were 0-3 in the last postseason against the Yankees.

 

They still need one or two better pitchers than Berrios/Odorizzi to be relevant next postseason.Can Graterol be one of them?Maybe, unless they keep him in the pen.Regardless, they will need to make a trade at the deadline to acquire an ace.

 

They are fine in the division, but that's not the goal here...

Berrios did not lose game 1, He did not put them in a position to win, either.Odorizzi's pitching did not lose game 3, the lack of timely hits did. 

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#13 The Wise One

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 08:50 AM

Pitch, teach, learn. I guess the results will come in spring training when the team sees what Dobnak, Thorpe and Smeltzer learned last year