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An Ace From Within; Dreams of Duran


Nick Hanzlik

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Jhoan Duran is not only the best reliever the Twins have had since Joe Nathan; he is the most talented pitcher they have had since Johan Santana/2006 Francisco Liriano. There have certainly been talented players throughout that timespan, even an all-star or two, but no one has had the absolute shutdown stuff this guy possesses. If he is remotely near the zone, opposing hitters have little to zero chance of doing anything. So why not try him in the rotation?

Twins fans have been begging for an ace since Santana's departure following the 2007 season. The closest we have come was probably Ervin Santana or Jose Berrios. Instead, we have been treated to the likes of Scott Baker, Carl Pavano, Kyle Gibson, Lance Lynn, and Jake Odorizzi. They were not bad pitchers, but they were not aces. Don't get me started on the likes of Samuel Deduno, Ricky Nolasco, Scott Diamond, or Hector Santiago. Feel free to add some more of your favorite lukewarm bowls of mashed potatoes to this list. I'm sure I left off some true gems.

So again, why not try Duran in the rotation? The whispers have already begun. He has starting experience (though with a bit of injury history). He's 6'5", 230lbs, and his body can take the innings. He has four pitches (4SFB, splinker, curveball, slider/cutter), a trait uncommon for relievers but usually necessary for starters. All the signs point to him being rotation capable, especially if he were to add a change-up. It wouldn't even have to be that good, and he would have an insane makeup as a starter. The temptation is palpable, and I have had these thoughts in the back of my head since the first time I watched this guy unleash the nastiest repertoire I have ever seen. It's not just the velocity and the movement, but the command. It is unique from others that possess stuff approaching the filth he brings.

All this being said, the answer is to resist the temptation. As tantalizing a notion as it would be, knowing every fifth day you get to watch this magnificent beast bring triple digits and then make hitters look foolish as they flail over the top of a mid-upper 80s hammer, we must resist.

Look at his numbers, folks. It's upsetting how good he was, especially in the second half when he really found his mojo. He was a man who was never rattled, never deterred. He knew he was better than anyone stepping into that box, and yes, I mean ANYONE, and it showed.

Confidence and mental state are crucial to all aspects of baseball, but especially to pitching. To a certain degree, to be a true stud on the mound, you have to have the mindset that you are the biggest and baddest motherf----- in the land. No one can beat you. That mindset comes from confidence, which comes from success.

Putting Duran in the rotation risks that success. Duran just turned 25 this month; messing with a young player who has already achieved that mindset is dangerous. You risk getting the yips after a few bad starts and then not being able to return to form in the pen. The yips are real and can happen. Anyone who has pitched knows this to be a harsh reality. It is just not worth it. Yes, we may never know if we have a true ace amongst us here and now, but we have the baddest mofo we could ever ask for, and that needs to be enough.

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100% agree, a bird in hand is better than two in the bush in this scenario. It's such a powerful thing to have. Being in a place to better handle his usage now, we will likely see 'second half Duran' for 162. 

I know how I felt when Emmanuel Clase entered the game for Cleveland. We have that with Duran, the game is over when gets the ball in the 9th.

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I don't know much about his health concerns a starter, but my worry as a totally ignorant layman is that under a starter's workload, he'd blow out his elbow and never be the same again. I'm gonna trust the Twins' coaching staff over my own gut as to how many golden eggs we can get without killing the goose.

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4 hours ago, twins_89 said:

The reason Duran is in the bullpen to begin with is because he couldn't stay healthy as a starter. I have no doubt that if the Twins believed that Duran could pitch 150+ innings a year he would be in the rotation, unfortunately that just isn't the case.

My understanding was it was an experiment to limit innings as he ramped back up from injury. His injury had to do with throwing the ball, he just happened to be starting at the time. He wants to start, and has expressed that politely several times. Not giving him the opportunity to do so will drastically limit his career earning potential, and he knows that. I hope he gets that chance this year or next. Good thing Santana got the opportunity when he started in the pen to limit innings. What the FO has believed in regards to pitchers hasn’t worked out so great.  

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6 hours ago, h2oface said:

My understanding was it was an experiment to limit innings as he ramped back up from injury. His injury had to do with throwing the ball, he just happened to be starting at the time. He wants to start, and has expressed that politely several times. Not giving him the opportunity to do so will drastically limit his career earning potential, and he knows that. I hope he gets that chance this year or next. Good thing Santana got the opportunity when he started in the pen to limit innings. What the FO has believed in regards to pitchers hasn’t worked out so great.  

Not at all concerned about any injury history.  Yeah, he got derailed a bit in 2021 but threw 216 total innings in 2018 & 2019.  Didn't pitch in the Covid year in 2020 which could have contributed to missing time in 2021.  Bounced back nicely in 2022.  Your Santana comp is spot on.  Only 35 % of Santana's appearances in his first 4 years here were starts but by 2002 & 2003 you could already tell that even in less than half time starting duty he was our most productive starter.  The ace we seek and need is probably right under our noses and we're too damn busy cutting off our noses to spite our faces to see.

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Confidence and mental state are crucial to all aspects of baseball, but especially to pitching. To a certain degree, to be a true stud on the mound, you have to have the mindset that you are the biggest and baddest motherf----- in the land. No one can beat you. That mindset comes from confidence, which comes from success. 

This statement right here is all the reason I need to at least hope the team gives him a shot at being a starter, either this year or next. Many great starters began their careers as relievers - Pedro Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Corbin Burnes, Chris Sale, and Curt Schilling among them. I also know that these are the exception to the rule, but what if.....

 

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The Johan comps are fair but the argument could be made his early career led to his arm issues and being out of the league at 33-34 years old. That's way to young for a guy that threw and relied on a change up like that. The risk on the volume and intensity of throwing 100+ mph in one outing is also way higher. Even with all the new arm care programs we just don't see power arms last as starters besides your outliers like Verlander and Scherzer.

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1 hour ago, mnfireman said:

Confidence and mental state are crucial to all aspects of baseball, but especially to pitching. To a certain degree, to be a true stud on the mound, you have to have the mindset that you are the biggest and baddest motherf----- in the land. No one can beat you. That mindset comes from confidence, which comes from success. 

This statement right here is all the reason I need to at least hope the team gives him a shot at being a starter, either this year or next. Many great starters began their careers as relievers - Pedro Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Corbin Burnes, Chris Sale, and Curt Schilling among them. I also know that these are the exception to the rule, but what if.....

 

What if…. 
That’ll keep you up at night. As hard as it may be to do, I think we thank our lucky stars we have a closer as lights out as duran and move on with our lives.

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Elite starters are more valuable than elite relievers. Duran deserves a chance to start to see what he can do. If he becomes a true # 1 or # 2 starter both he and the Twins reap the considerable rewards.

The injury risk seems overblown unless there is something we don't know. 

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If I remember correctly, Duran gained quite a bit on his avg velocity after moving to the pen. This tells me his lights out stuff becomes slightly less lights out the more innings he's expected to pitch. That mixed with injury history indicates you'd maybe get more innings, but they'd be of lower quality and in lower leverage situations. And maybe he just gets hurt or wears out and you don't get all the extra innings.

The risk of injury and potential extra innings wouldn't be worth it IMO.

65-80 high leverage innings with arguably the best stuff in the league in the highest leverage spots is preferable to 120-150 innings as a starter.

When he comes in, you can be almost certain the game is over if he's closing it out, or make the opponents' best batters look over-matched when he's there to hold for 2 high leverage innings. It's a joy to watch.

As a starter, he's almost certain not to throw many if any complete games, and we saw what even a couple bad bullpen arms can do to a teams chance of winning (Pagan, or even Colome from early '21).

If Duran starts, who do we rely on to close it out once he's pulled?

Like it or not, he's almost certain to stay in the pen, but I for one, think it's the best choice and the most fun to watch.

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On 1/25/2023 at 11:26 PM, dxpavelka said:

 we're too damn busy cutting off our noses to spite our faces to see.

I think that metaphor makes more sense when imagining trying to move Duran back to the rotation.

The bullpen would just lose the game in the last 3 innings without Duran anchoring the pen

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8 hours ago, AlGoreRythm said:

If I remember correctly, Duran gained quite a bit on his avg velocity after moving to the pen. This tells me his lights out stuff becomes slightly less lights out the more innings he's expected to pitch. That mixed with injury history indicates you'd maybe get more innings, but they'd be of lower quality and in lower leverage situations. And maybe he just gets hurt or wears out and you don't get all the extra innings.

The risk of injury and potential extra innings wouldn't be worth it IMO.

65-80 high leverage innings with arguably the best stuff in the league in the highest leverage spots is preferable to 120-150 innings as a starter.

When he comes in, you can be almost certain the game is over if he's closing it out, or make the opponents' best batters look over-matched when he's there to hold for 2 high leverage innings. It's a joy to watch.

As a starter, he's almost certain not to throw many if any complete games, and we saw what even a couple bad bullpen arms can do to a teams chance of winning (Pagan, or even Colome from early '21).

If Duran starts, who do we rely on to close it out once he's pulled?

Like it or not, he's almost certain to stay in the pen, but I for one, think it's the best choice and the most fun to watch.

yes

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9 hours ago, GNess said:

Elite starters are more valuable than elite relievers. Duran deserves a chance to start to see what he can do. If he becomes a true # 1 or # 2 starter both he and the Twins reap the considerable rewards.

The injury risk seems overblown unless there is something we don't know. 

I am not overly concerned about injury, I am just terrified to mess with him in any way, shape or form. He is bananas in his current role. I worry if he gets moved and gets demolished that he won't return to form when moved back to the pen. No numbers or anything to back this up. Just a gut worry he'll get the yips

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