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2020 ST Rotation Primer/Falvey and Levine Era

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#1 DocBauer

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 10:57 PM

Spring training is about here, thank the baseball gods! And we have one of the best and most intriguing teams in all of MLB to root for. And while there is much to look forward to, debate and discuss let's be honest that the rotation remains the #1 talking/sticking point. And while I it might be fun/interesting to do something like this for each area of the team...who knows, maybe, time and effort may not be there...I just really wanted to examine the rotation situation since that seems to be at the forefront of so much discussion, hope and angst.

Kind of hoping this doesn't lead to an overload of "what if" yet again. But it WILL be a part of any discussion, and that's OK.

This post is not just about 2020, but how we have arrived at where we are at this point after 3 1/2 years with Falvey and Levine in charge of the team, albeit with two different managers and pitching coaches involved. But we also need to reflect on how we got here, and to do that, I think it's important to also reflect on the 2016 season before they came on board. Below you will see a listing of every pitcher who started a game for the Twins from 2016 through last season. And while I still believe ERA has value, and I am not a pure WAR believer, I see the value. So I am including ML WAR rankings based on what I found on FanGraphs website. Now, how much you value that site or WAR is not the be all of anything. Just trying to offer up perspectives.

Bear with me, I think this is all very interesting.

2016 ROTATION BY GS:

Ervin Santana 30
Tyler Duffey 26
Kyle Gibson 25
Jose Berrios 14
Tommy Milone 12
Phil Hughes 11
Hector Santiago 11
Pat Dean 9
Andrew Albers 2
Alex Meyer 1

RANKING BY WAR: 23MLB/13AL/7.6

Notes: Berrios's rookie season. Last year of the old FO. Actually forgot Meyer started a game.

2017 ROTATION BY GS:

Ervin Santana 33
Kyle Gibson 29
Jose Berrios 25
Adalberto Mejia 21
Barolo Colon 15
Hector Santiago 14
Phil Hughes 9
Aaron Slegers 3
Nik Gurley 3
Dillon Gee 3
Jaime Garcia 1
Dietrich Enns 1
Adam Wilk 1
Tim Melville 1
Nick Tepesch 1

RANKING BY WAR: 24MLB/ 11AL/ 7.1

Notes: First season with the current FO. Not surprising there were a lot of limited starts due to that fact, plus lack of depth. Colon was not only fun, but he actually produced. Not sure we make a WC without him. Oh what could have been with Mejia,

2018 ROTATION BY GS:

Jose Berrios 32
Jake Odorizzi 32
Kyle Gibson 32
Lance Lynn 20
Fernando Romero 11
Gabriel Moya 6
Ervin Santana 5
Kohl Stewart 4
Stephen Gonsalves 4
Adalberto Mejia 4
Chase DeJong 4
Phil Hughes 2
Zach Littell 2
Aaron Slegers 2
Tyler Duffey 1
Trevor May 1

RANKING BY WAR: 17MLB/ 7AL/ 9.1

Notes: Despite a frustrating and disappointing season, you are starting to see some greater stability in the rotation. You also see the Tampa influence as the Twins played some with openers at both the milb and ML level. I admit, I completely forgot about Moya actually starting 6 games. A mistake? I guess, they were at least trying something different.

2019 ROTATION BY GS:

Jose Berrios 32
Jake Odorizzi 30
Kyle Gibson 29
Martin Perez 29
Michael Pineda 26
Devin Smeltzer 6
Randy Dobnak 5
Lewis Thorpe 2
Kohl Stewart 2
Cody Stashak 1

RANKING BY WAR: 7MLB/ 4AL/ 16.6

Notes: Really, especially considering the past 10 years plus, unparalleled success from the rotation, overall, even considering Perez being mediocre beyond his first couple of months and the Gibson slide due to weakness, and a so-so start to the season as he built up endurance for a time. Despite success in 2019 from this rotation, it could easily be argued the one flaw was maybe sticking with Perez and Gibson as long as the Twins did vs just letting Dobnak, Smeltzer and Thorpe get their opportunity and let fly. Would that opportunity and experience really impacted the final results?

FORWARD TO THE 2020 ROTATION:

All of this is context to where we have arrived as to where we have been. Were I a complete nut job vs a partial one, I might have included the top SP prospects over the past 4 year perspective I have written. But I'm just not ready for the straitjacket and padded walls...yet.

To at least begin 2020 we have the following:

Berrios
Odorizzi
Pineda
Hill
Bailey
Chacin
Dobnak
Thorpe
Smeltzer

Some of these names repeat over the 4 year arc I have presented. And some of the names previously presented were good performers, even on disappointing teams. Some were virtual throw ins, to be honest. While a prospect remains a prospect until proven, when was the last time the Twins had names like this, proven vets, prospects who have shown ability and potential, a flier or two that might actually produce?

We're not where we want and need to be just yet. But if you look at where we are now, and where we have been, you have to see changes in the make.

But all of this is reflection and perspective to debate. Have at it.
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#2 IndianaTwin

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 11:21 PM

Did you mean to leave Maeda off the list?

 

What I like about the recent moves is the flexibility they provide when it comes to thinking in segments. 

 

April-May 10: In Berrios, Odo, Maeda, Bailey, Chacin, Dobnak, Smeltzer, Thorpe, they have eight legitimate options to start, with two or three good options a flight from Rochester away (depending on whether Chacin has an opt out). 

 

May 10: By then, someone will be hurt or ineffective, but it’s an easy swap for Pineda. If the MLB five are all rolling, go to a six-man rotation for a bit. If two guys are hurt, you’ve still got options to call up in Rochester.

 

Sometime this summer: Stuff happens, but you hopefully add Hill to the mix. And if we’re suffering from an embarrassment of riches, there’s the possibility of turning one or more into prospects.

 

You never hope for suspensions or injuries, but in some sense it provides opportunity, since six weeks is about the time when a team is often looking for upgrades, but most times they aren’t available. Similarly, there’s logical reason to think that Hill might not make it back, but if he does, that’s another reinforcement. 

 

Romero has also been completely off the radar in discussions, but with the depth in the bullpen that could be possible, I’d at least consider giving him another shot in the Rochester rotation. 

 

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#3 dxpavelka

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 11:46 PM

Even when everyone else is healthy & eligible, I think Maeda is one of the top 3 starters on this team.May not play out that way but probably should.

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#4 ToddlerHarmon

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 12:27 AM

The rotation now looks good enough to let the offense win the division.The playoff readiness is uncertain. But at least there are arms that *could* be big in the playoffs: Berrios, Odorizzi, Pineda, Hill, Maeda, and Chacin all have some swing and miss stuff that could look great by playoff time. Let's hope two or three of them achieve that.


#5 DocBauer

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 12:30 AM

***Took me a couple hours to put this together after work and I had not yet heard about the trade for Maeda***
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#6 Thegrin

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 12:51 AM

The season just looks better & better. :)

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#7 RaoulDuke

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 01:00 AM

In a perfect world Berrios/ Hill/ Odorizzi/ Maeda is a pretty solid playoff 4.Lacks an ace but makes up for it with four 2nd or 3rd starters allowing the offense to carry a series vs the other teams 2-3-4 guys. 

 

When that doesn't work out Pineda/ Bailey/ Chacin all have a chance to be legit 3-4 guys.When that doesn't work out, or one forces the issue, Thorpe/ Dobnak/ Smeltzer are MLB ready and the big arms of Duran/ Balzovic may become ready at some point as well.

 

They may lack a true ace but that is 10-12 deep in viable starters.I like what Falvine is building with the organizations pitching.They are looking for a Kluber to step forward but have multiple solid guys and a lot who could make an extra step.

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#8 twins_89

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 02:31 AM

With the Maeda addition the Minnesota rotation looks solid and potentially deep for the regular season. The problem is that come the playoffs the Twins lack of high end starters is going to be a major liability. This team really needs to find one front of the rotation starter to make the step from playoff team to world series contender.


#9 twinsfanstreif

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 05:21 AM

Flip Gibson and Perez for Maeda, Bailey, and Hill and that's a net of +2.9 WAR. A +2.9 WAR would put us #1 in the MLB in overall pitching for Fangraphs (couldn't figure out starting pitching). Also factor in that Pineda had an AWFUL March/April and we're looking rather solid.

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#10 IndianaTwin

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 08:21 AM

 

***Took me a couple hours to put this together after work and I had not yet heard about the trade for Maeda***

 

No problem. So, I’d say the addition of Maeda makes your thesis even stronger!

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#11 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 08:25 AM

Doc, The Maeda trade makes your article even more timely and further emphasizes your point that the Twins are steadily improving their starting pitchers. When you add to this equation the unpresidented presence of 6 hitters with 30 + homeruns last year on a team which set a major league record for home runs in a season (take thatyou Bronx Bombers), the top defender in CF, a rookie who is predicted to hit over .300,6 (excuse me 5, I forgot Brusdar is a Red Sox now) players on the top 100 prospects list, plus one of the top bull pens in the majors, what we have here is a potential World Series Champion. This is unchartered Twins Territory. Sind me, Positively Giddy

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#12 Danchat

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 10:32 AM

Apparently the Twins plan this offseason was to nab some Dodgers pitchers!

The rotation looks like it will have plenty of depth. I still hope for Dobnak and Thorpe potentially finding roles as starters, especially if Bailey doesn’t pitch well.
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#13 nicksaviking

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 10:53 AM

The depth should mean no one gets/needs a long leash and hopefully the competition for rotation spots brings out the best in everyone.

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#14 DocBauer

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 01:50 PM

No problem. So, I’d say the addition of Maeda makes your thesis even stronger!


Indeed it does. While we have a whole season to play and then measure, hard to not be excited about the potential of this rotation, especially with Maeda.

I was never as down on Perez as some and was always a Gibson supporter. But the reality is, except for stretches, those two just didn't have great 2019 seasons. It really looks to me as if we are improved. Even if the needle hasn't swung as far as we might have liked.
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#15 IndianaTwin

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 02:16 PM

 

Indeed it does. While we have a whole season to play and then measure, hard to not be excited about the potential of this rotation, especially with Maeda.

I was never as down on Perez as some and was always a Gibson supporter. But the reality is, except for stretches, those two just didn't have great 2019 seasons. It really looks to me as if we are improved. Even if the needle hasn't swung as far as we might have liked.

 

I'm at similar spots on Perez and Gibson, particularly the latter. I'd have been ready (and advocated on a couple threads) to give Gibson a contract structured much like Maeda's. I was thinking something that guaranteed perhaps $5MM but allowed him to get close to QO money if he made 32+ starts.

 


#16 Battle ur tail off

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 02:24 PM

What do alot of the 2019 players and 2020 players have in common?

 

Hardly ANY of them are from the Twins system. They've done a nice job of picking up players that can and have produced. At some point though, our system is going to have to bear fruit. Counting year after year on 30-35 year old pitchers is gonna come back to bite you sometime. 

 

 

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#17 DocBauer

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 06:23 PM

What do alot of the 2019 players and 2020 players have in common?

Hardly ANY of them are from the Twins system. They've done a nice job of picking up players that can and have produced. At some point though, our system is going to have to bear fruit. Counting year after year on 30-35 year old pitchers is gonna come back to bite you sometime.


Agree 100%. But when the system hasn't produced, for whatever reason, you have to look and find smart choices. I believe they have done that successfully, which was the point of this OP.

Personally, I believe Oddo will be back. And while I love the options brought on board, I am very encouraged by Thorpe and Dobnak. Smeltzer to a lesser degree.

The one thing the 30+yr olds do is perform and give time for the youngsters here, and those getting close. When I think about Duran and Balazovic and others rising up over the next couple of seasons I get really excited.
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#18 howieramone2

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 06:47 PM

Great job Doc!
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#19 DocBauer

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 07:23 PM

Great job Doc!


Thank you!

I really like the OP by Matt with K%. I concentrated on league and AL WAR. K% would never tell the whole story, of course, because a ton of BB or hits could deflect the results of SO and swing and miss %.

Not sure I have the time to re-post the same 4yr time frame and include K%. I'm intrigued now about looking at team WHIP through the same time frame because that may be even more relevant.

But then again, as someone still a little outside the analytics fraternity, perhaps WAR accounts for these already???
"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

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