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Randy Dobnak, The Underrated Marcus Stroman?

marcus stroman randy dobnak
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#1 Cody Pirkl

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Posted 14 March 2020 - 07:01 PM

In 2019, Marcus Stroman had a career year with a 3.22 ERA and 3.72 FIP. He was traded at the deadline to the Mets in frustrating fashion, as the Twins felt they could have matched the return for the Blue Jays. The rest is history, as the Twins starting pitching depth fell apart down the stretch. In 2020 however, the Twins not only have the depth to fill the shoes of a Marcus Stroman, they may have a version of him themselves.Randy Dobnak burst onto the scene in 2019 riding a heavy sinker/slider combo to success in his short debut. I’m just going to say it, Randy Dobnak can be a Marcus Stroman-esque pitcher for the Minnesota Twins. Do you think that’s ridiculous? What’s ridiculous is how similar the two pitcher’s profiles are. Check out the pair’s pitch usage and performance:
Dobnak:
Download attachment: Dobnak Pitch Mix.PNG

Stroman:
Download attachment: Stroman Pitches.PNG

Dobnak considers his breaking ball to be a slider despite Statcast categorizing it as a curve. Taking this into consideration, the main difference is Stroman’s consistent use of a cut fastball. Dobnak instead relies on his changeup and four seamer a bit more whereas Stroman rarely uses these pitches. Both pitchers' bread and butter however is their sinker/slider combo. Both use their sinkers around 36% of the time and rely on their breakers for whiffs. Now let’s look at batted-ball profile:

Dobnak:
Download attachment: Dobnak Batted Ball Profile.PNG

Stroman:
Download attachment: Stroman Batted Ball Profile.PNG

The parity in GB and FB rates are what I find most important. Both pitchers rely on the ground ball in the age of rising strikeouts. Stroman struck out 20.5% of hitters in 2019, while Dobnak struck out 19.5%. Stroman had a walk rate of 7.5%, while Dobnak only walked 4.2% of his opponents. Both pitchers are also exceptional at avoiding barrels, which are determined in part by achieving a launch angle between 26-30 degrees. Both pitchers' sinkers produced launch angles in the negatives in 2019. Dobnak’s 0.32 HR/9 is unrepeatable, but why can’t it plateau around the 0.88 HR/9 Stroman put up in 2019 with such a similar profile?

We saw it at last year’s trade deadline, many people believed Marcus Stroman to be a bona fide ace. The fact of the matter is, 2019 was Stroman’s most valuable season according to Fangraphs WAR and it would have ranked behind Berrios and Odorizzi’s 2019. Comparing Stroman and Dobnak may partially be an argument that Stroman is a bit overrated, but it’s hard to ignore just how much the two pitchers overlap with their strategy and results on the mound in 2019.

The elephant in the room is obvious. Randy Dobnak has just 28.1 innings under his belt at the major league level. He’s also taken an unlikely path to the majors and was never considered the prospect that Stroman was when he was taken 22nd overall in 2012. His 1.59 ERA in 2019 is not going to happen again. Even his 2.90 FIP seems ambitious. The skills Dobnak showed are fairly sticky historically however. While he certainly overperformed, things like walk rate and groundball rate don’t typically just disappear from year to year, especially since they’re both skills he showed all through the minors.

Randy Dobnak is due for regression in 2020, but his performance in 2019 leaves a lot of room for it while still being an impressive pitcher. He gets ground balls at an elite rate and has a slider that induces a healthy amount of swings and misses just as Marcus Stroman does. In fact, you could take the pair's underlying peripherals and they would be nearly indistinguishable. Because of that, I don’t think it’s crazy to say that Randy Dobnak could put together a season that matches up closely with Marcus Stroman. What do you think?

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#2 DocBauer

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Posted 15 March 2020 - 02:24 AM

Personally, I think few believe Stroman is anything but an ACE. A nice pitcher, but not an ACE.

There was a time, not so long ago, when pitching low in the zone, or having "heavy" stuff was considered a positive. "Pitching to contact", in regard to the "old" Twins mantra never meant let the other team get hits, but rather, throw strikes, mkve your pitches around, and let the hitter get themselves out.

In the sudden new age of high barrel rates and launch angles, we are talking about velocity and pitching high so batters get themselves out. But at the end of the day, outs are outs. If Dobnak is more old school in his process, who cares. If he relies more on weak contact and grounders I'm all in.
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#3 old nurse

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Posted 15 March 2020 - 06:53 AM

Stroman is a decent pitcher. Simeon Woods Richardson might be a better one. 2 years younger than Balazovic and at the same level of pitching. Toronto did not do all that poorly for a year and a half of Stroman. Dobnac has 30 innings in the major leagues. What he is or can be is really yet to be determined


#4 rdehring

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Posted 15 March 2020 - 08:06 AM

Yes, Dobnak may regress in 2020.Or he might not.Really think he can take that 5th starter role and run with it.Wouldn't be surprised at all if he has a nice long career with the Twins...assuming they ever play again!

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#5 Yossarian

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Posted 15 March 2020 - 08:25 AM

I love stats, but past performance does not, etc.Dobnak's sample size is so low that leaning to 2020 regression could be a lean in the wrong direction.Subjectively, I love Dobnak's makeup, his durability and the fact that he's flown under the radar.I'd bet on another leg up on trajectory before Dobnak reverts to mean.

 

If anything is due for a reversion to mean, it's 2019's MLB-wide fly-ball and homerun rate.Somewhere, methinks there's a finger on the scale down in the depths of the Rawlings organization and someone said, "we overdid it in 2019."We'll see.

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#6 Twodogs

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Posted 15 March 2020 - 10:05 AM

I love stats, but past performance does not, etc. Dobnak's sample size is so low that leaning to 2020 regression could be a lean in the wrong direction. Subjectively, I love Dobnak's makeup, his durability and the fact that he's flown under the radar. I'd bet on another leg up on trajectory before Dobnak reverts to mean.

If anything is due for a reversion to mean, it's 2019's MLB-wide fly-ball and homerun rate. Somewhere, methinks there's a finger on the scale down in the depths of the Rawlings organization and someone said, "we overdid it in 2019." We'll see.


I know people have talked about it, but for some reason I just don't think MLB will "de" juice the ball. Could you imagine all the fly balls that were hit last year and now none of them leave the park? We will have a lot of low scoring baseball games. To the point where I think MLB would be very scared to the point where they may lose viewership. You know and I know that lineups have been constructed to mash, and if the ball is changed to the point that it doesn't go as far then all of the lineups out there would have a tough time producing. I don't know for sure, but I just don't think MLB will mess with that. Not right now.
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#7 USNMCPO

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Posted 15 March 2020 - 10:50 AM

 

I know people have talked about it, but for some reason I just don't think MLB will "de" juice the ball. Could you imagine all the fly balls that were hit last year and now none of them leave the park? We will have a lot of low scoring baseball games. To the point where I think MLB would be very scared to the point where they may lose viewership. You know and I know that lineups have been constructed to mash, and if the ball is changed to the point that it doesn't go as far then all of the lineups out there would have a tough time producing. I don't know for sure, but I just don't think MLB will mess with that. Not right now.

I like what you are saying and see it as a real possibility. I also, however, see that MLB has the ability to screw up almost anything. Time will tell.

 

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#8 etwink

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Posted 15 March 2020 - 04:29 PM

Wow.  I know that the MLB suspension is affecting people, but come on.  Comparing a guy with like 30 innings in the majors to any veteran is the height of folly.  Referring to the “small sample size” doesn’t allow you to then ignore it.

 

The next thing you know, someone’s going to write an article rating the Twins on a scale of handsomeness.....

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#9 jimbo92107

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Posted 15 March 2020 - 04:29 PM

I do think Dobnak has a good chance to become a mid-ro horse, possibly better. If he develops a high 4-seamer ala Odo's heater, that would make his low zone stuff even more effective. 

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#10 Dantes929

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 09:35 AM

Don't forget that it wasn't just 28 innings in the majors but another 135 innings in the minors combining for 163 innings of below 2.00 ERA.Predicting progression, regression or maintaining isn't really that much different that looking at Berrios' body of work and predicting he will advance to the next level simply becauseother pitchers with his history did make the leap. I wasn't kidding when I said Dobnak should be #4 to start the season and Bailey, and others should be fighting for the #5 spot.The idea that a guy that used to pitch well but has been somewhere between ok and bad the past 5 years is more likely to pitch well than the guy that actually pitched well last year makes little sense to me. Sure, give the #5 spot edge to Bailey. #4 spot edge should be to Dobnak.

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#11 ashbury

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 10:12 AM

I keep wondering who might be the overrated Marcus Stroman. :)

 

Seems like other teams manage to pop out these serviceable major leaguers from solid but not stellar prospects, out of nowhere almost. Maybe it's our turn.

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#12 Cody Pirkl

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 10:24 AM

 

Wow.  I know that the MLB suspension is affecting people, but come on.  Comparing a guy with like 30 innings in the majors to any veteran is the height of folly.  Referring to the “small sample size” doesn’t allow you to then ignore it.

 

The next thing you know, someone’s going to write an article rating the Twins on a scale of handsomeness.....

He's a guy who had a successful minor league career at every stop and came up and had continued success by using the same strategy. That strategy happens to look just like Stroman's even if it was in a very limited sample. His way of getting outs is pretty sustainable by limiting homers and getting ground balls. I think it's valuable to recognize that in context with how Stroman's made a career for himself because it shows that it may not be fair to predict near 5 ERAs for Dobnak going forward. There's a path to success for him and his pitching style is all I wanted to point out.

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#13 DocBauer

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Posted 18 March 2020 - 06:06 PM

I keep wondering who might be the overrated Marcus Stroman. :)
 
Seems like other teams manage to pop out these serviceable major leaguers from solid but not stellar prospects, out of nowhere almost. Maybe it's our turn.


You know, I think you could almost compare Dobnak to Arraez, despite being a pitcher vs a position player. Arraez, while thought of decently, was never a TOP prospect. But all he did was perform. There was even debate as to whether he should be included on the 40 man last year by some. But his HIT ability and bat control is amazing, as we all have seen. And now he's a darling, and well deserved. Dobnak, though with less time in the system, does nothing but perform as well. He doesn't throw 96 or have a wipe out slider, etc, but be performs and even dominates. When he gets his shot, he does nothing but impress, though granted it was in a smaller SS.

Dobnak just seems to knkw how to pitch, how to get outs, Stroman comparison or not. Do we not embrace his potential because he doesn't have the BIG ARM? Or are we just jaded from the Twins NOT producing much from the system for several years now?
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#14 Weave

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 08:39 AM

Minors Career [+] 5 teamsMinors 14 11 3.32 45 30 1 0 0 0 178.2 156 76 66 16 5 54 0 212 .231 1.18 1.35

 

Minors Career [+] 5 teamsMinors 24 9 2.57 54 45 2 0 1 1 297.1 267 96 85 15 10 60 0 216 .239 1.10 1.42

 

without cheating, who is who? Dobnak and Stroman

 

Just sayin :-)




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