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Do the 2021 Twins Have the Worst Pitching Staff in Team History?


Derek Falvey was brought over from Cleveland to help the Twins build a pitching pipeline. Those dreams have yet to come to fruition as the 2021 Twins might be the worst pitching staff in team history.

On Tuesday night, Twins fans that stayed up late to watch a West Coast game were treated with a real clunker. Minnesota faced off against a bad Seattle team and it escalated into an embarrassing loss. J.A. Happ allowed six earned runs in four innings to an anemic Mariners offense. Happ is only one issue with a pitching staff that might be the worst in franchise history.

Out of the 15 American League teams, Minnesota ranks 13th or lower in ERA, hits, R, HR, and strikeouts, but it goes even further than that.

While all those numbers show how bad the Twins have been this season, there are ways to compare the current team to former seasons. ERA- and FIP- are all statistics that allow fans to compare pitchers across different eras because it adjusts for the league and the park. For each area, 100 is league average and each point above or below 100 represents a percent above or below league average. If a team has a 90 ERA- that means they were 10 percentage points better than the league average.

When it comes to ERA-, there is only one Minnesota team with a worse total than the 2021 Twins. The 1995 Twins finished the year with a 56-88 record and their starting staff was composed of a 22-year-old Brad Radke, Kevin Tapani, Mike Trombley, Frankie Rodriguez, Scott Erickson, and Jose Para. As a club, they had the ranked last or second to last in the American League when it came to ERA, HR, R, W, IP, and H. Entering play on Wednesday, the 2021 Twins (119 ERA-) were only one point behind the 1995 team (120 ERA-), so they certainly can end up in the bottom spot by season’s end.

FIP is used to estimate a pitcher’s run prevention independent of the defensive performance behind the player. The 2021 Twins also have the second worse FIP- in team history, but this time the 1982 squad has the worst total. That squad finished 60-102, which was last place in the AL West. Starters on the team included Bobby Castillo, Brad Havens, Albert Williams, Frank Viola, and Jack O’Connor. Like the 1995 team, they ranked at or near the bottom of the AL in ERA, HR, ER, R, and BB.

What makes it even more frustrating is how good last year’s staff was in comparison to the current team. Kenta Maeda was the runner-up for the Cy Young and he wasn’t the only one to find success. All four of Minnesota’s top four starters were above league average when it comes to ERA-. Minnesota’s bullpen also had many reliable arms whereas the 2021 team’s bullpen has been a train wreck.

In the not-so-distant future, it seems likely for the 2021 Twins to cut ties to some of their veteran pitching options and start seeing what the team has for younger arms. Bailey Ober and Griffin Jax have been added to the staff and other prospects will be following closely behind. Minnesota’s top two pitching prospects, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, have both showcased dominant stuff in the upper levels of the minors this season and their big-league debuts made come sooner rather than later.

Do you think this is the worst pitching staff in team history? Leave a COMMENT and join the discussion.

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I doubt the Twins pitching staff is the worst in team history, but they are definitely in the running for having the biggest gap between expectations and results.

The most frustrating part is that even though Happ, Shoemaker, Dobnak, and Colome have all been brutally bad they are still making appearances.

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Not the worst but troubling that management did not feel any serious inclination to address the team shortages last winter and are still slow to react. The excuses are pointless, but despite a problematic offense it is the frequent non competitive pitching performances that have hindered and hamstrung the Twins this year thus far.

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As the hour is quite late, I'll have to revisit this tomorrow----but the 1982 pitching staff that featured the immortal Terry Felton going 0-13 ( I think) would have to be worse....at this point of the season.  Considering the expectations-----I'd agree that this has been the MOST DISAPPOINTING pitching staff in franchise history.

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I feel by season's end this club will not be close to the worst pitching staff.  FO overestimated the ability or what they had left of 4 pitchers who account for some of the issues(Happ,Shoemaker,colume, Dobnak).  Also cameos by Smeltzer, stashak.  Relief pitchers vary wildly year by year, but we needed better starting pitching.  Time to cut bait and bring up the youngsters, can't be any worse than what we have now.

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As bad as the pitching has been, it is not the sole reason for the team decline.  At times it wouldn't really matter what the pitching was or wasn't; you have to score runs to win, too, and the team has scored 3 runs or less in exactly half the games played so far.  That used to be a big stat (3 or less and 4 or more) until all the analytics took its place.  That is starting to improve as of late, and hopefully the pitching will too.  But it may be too late for the immediate future; looks like we will be sellers come July.

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It's definitely been one of the most over-estimated and most poorly managed.  Happ, Shoemaker and Colome have been absolute duds.  Maeda and Pineda have been injured.  Dobnak, Thorpe and Jax have been spun around and turned upside down (mostly due to the lack of output of the previously mentioned gang of five).  Dobnak apparently can't really throw his newly polished slider, but he's still sent out there anyway.  Stashak looked hurt a long time before he was finally sent to the IL.   The worst part about it is that most of the one and done contracts are invested in these low output players, and they won't command anything in return at the deadline.

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Most disappointing for me, sure will rank near bottom of Twins teams. Twins FO seems worried about releasing underperforming pitchers due to the money still guaranteed them. To me that money is spent already, either you pay Colome to pitch an inning or 2 a week in low leverage situations the rest of the year or you pay him to stay home. There is probably more upside for Twins with him staying home. At least you give other pitchers an opportunity at MLB level and see what you have for next year. Shoemaker should be an easy decision, maybe when Pineda comes off IL.

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It's plain to everyone that the team struck out with veteran pick-ups. Happ, Shoemaker, and Colome all had solid pedigrees, but have fallen off a cliff this year. It seems incredibly unlucky for that to happen to all three guys you picked up, but hey, that's baseball.

What really makes no sense to me however is how other guys have collapsed. Maeda has struggled mightily which has been surprising to see for someone who is so methodical. Duffey has seemed to lose some velocity and the control of his curveball. Stashak has been utterly hammered. Only Alcala, Berrios, and Rogers look like themselves and not weird knockoff versions of themselves.

I don't know what to make of it. How can so many previously competent players all struggle all at once? Take one or two players out of context and you can justify it, age, injuries, regression, etc. But the struggles of so many different pitchers simultaneously is just baffling to me.

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Yes, I agree that this is an incredibly under-achieving group. It's always bothered me how almost the ENTIRE staff can fail, instead of just a couple pitchers. This has to do with desire and focus.

Also, baseball players constantly report that they enjoy "having a routine", and "knowing my position" in the staff or lineup. With the Twins this year, the manager constantly changes the lineup order and bullpen order. Why was Rogers removed from closing at first? dunno. That has not helped him.

The constant shuffling of everything cannot be blamed on injuries. The players don't know their set position or have a routine, and it's June. 

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Most gobsmacking in team history. 

Also either unluckiest or worst evaluated during the off-season.  Every "plan B" type of pitcher failed when called in to clean up after the "plan A" guys who failed or became unavailable.  Waddell, Law, Anderson... at least the FO has shown willingness to pull the plug on some of what hasn't worked.  There are smatterings of success with the "plan C" guys they have brought up from the farm system.

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Before making such a proclamation, I'd like to see the season play out.  We're comparing full season's worth of results against two and a half months.  Things could get worse (somehow) or could improve.  I do think it's pretty safe to say that the staff is brutal.  They're as frustrating a staff to watch as I recall watching.

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Because we expected so much, this feels close to the worst staff ever. Statistics wise it is among the 5 worst right now but let's see how the rest of the season goes. The relievers, after Colome, haven't been terrible but have been inconsistent. And Colome has been better lately. Subtract Shoe and Dobnack and the starters have been disappointing for what we thought we had- even Happ was ok for his first 5 starts. The offense, or lack of it, also has to be part of the blame for this poor season. I just hope management doesn't gut the core of the team because of one bad season. The core is still good- if it ever stays healthy- another issue.

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The mid-90s Twins SP was awful. From '94 to '96, the best ERA was a young Brad Radke at 4.46 and the best FIP was Tapani at 3.86. Nobody else under 4.46 in either category. Those were painful seasons. 

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Hard to believe these guys are worse than the staffs of the early 1980's, mid to late 1990's or the 2012-14 clubs.

But I suppose those clubs were mostly made up of no-name waiver-wire finds and cheap fringy prospects who may have lacked name recognition and MLB level skill, but probably had a bit more desperation in their game which probably adds something.

The current rotation is made up of league-wide known commodities. Whether these guys are worse than their predecessors is probably less important than the fact that these guys were expected to be good while the other famously bad pitching staffs were expected to be awful before the season even started.

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4 hours ago, prouster said:

Sam Deduno, Pedro Hernandez, P.J. Walter, Cole DeVries, etc. all made regular starts not all that long ago. So no, not the worst by any means. 

I was always intrigued by Deduno and thought he was  diamond in the rough. He had that nasty breaking ball, but just couldn't put it where he wanted it.

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Just because I had to check--------the 1982 Twins pitching staff (my senior year in high school) was NOT as awful as I originally thought in comparison to this year's group.  Saying that, I knew that the 82 team would struggle, but as all know the CORE of that team---Laudner, Hrbek, Gaetti, Viola------with the help of others---produced the first (and best) WS title only 5 years later.

As for that group......research shows the 82 team..as most know..went 60-102 finishing dead last in the AL West.  However, their starting pitchers (as listed by Baseball Reference) showed a few surprises.

1.  The 5 SPs listed were:  Bobby Castillo (13-11/ 3.66 ERA); Brad Havens (10-14/ 4.31 ERA) Al(bert) Williams (9-7/4.22 ERA), Jack O'Connor (8-9/ 4.29 ERA) and a young southpaw by the name of Frank Viola (4-10/5.21 ERA)

That group combined to go 44-51 for a winning % of .463

The 2021 group---Berrios, Happ, Pineda, Shoemaker and Maeda---with MUCH HIGHER EXPECTATIONS and with a much better (at least thought to be) lineup and bullpen in support have gone so far through 68 games...17-19 for a .472 win %.  Not much better than the 1982 group.

I know only 68 games in for the 2021 group of underachievers, but the 82 team had a final team pitching ERA of 4.72. This years group of misfits, is currently sitting at 5.01.....yes over 1/4 of a run higher------who's best SP was Bobby Castillo.

 

2. The 82 team's bullpen was a complete train wreck.  Sounds familiar, huh?  4 of the most immortal (and forgettable) RPs from that team included:

Ron Davis:  Really difficult to type that name without expletives.  For those who might remember, he was the epitome of "gas on the fire" as a closer.  Sounds like a RP we acquired in the offseason as a free agent.  Somehow, RD did collect 22 saves that season, but HAD TO HAVE at least 10 BLOWN SAVES.  He finished the year 3-9 with a 4.42 ERA

The aforementioned Terry Felton.  From what I've read, Felton really was not as AWFUL (I'm being generous in my old age) as his 0-13 record with a 4.99 ERA suggests.  Is the only pitcher (I think) in MLB history to record more than 10 decisions in a season and lose every game.  

Pete Redfern:  5-11/ 6.58 ERA

Roger Erickson 4-3/ 5.87

3. Not intentionally trying to "cherry pick"-------but compare to the following 3 RPs for the 2021 that Falvey, front office and Baldelli expected to "be good" this season that have completely NOT been anywhere close to average:

Dobnak:  1-6/ 8.38 ERA over 38.2 IP

Colome:  2-4/ 5.63 ERA over 24 IP

Stashak:  0-0/ 6.89 ERA over 15.2 IP

 

Time to move forward and hope that those progressing at Wichita, Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers will give our fan base something in the way of positive production in the years ahead.

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, prouster said:

Sam Deduno, Pedro Hernandez, P.J. Walter, Cole DeVries, etc. all made regular starts not all that long ago. So no, not the worst by any means. 

At least with Sam Deduno, one could sing “Day-Doo-Noe” in response to the stupid “Dayo” cheer-song.  By the way, somebody please explain the message conveyed by the “Dayo” cheer??    Please explain. 

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Remove Jose Berrios from the Twins' staff and just imagine how bad those numbers would be.

We've got a really good MLB pitcher on our team who would be a top 2 guy for most teams, and at least a top 3 for everyone. And the Twins numbers still look historically awful.

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I was considering some of the poor staffs in the past, but then I remembered one huge factor...we are in the year of the pitcher!  Baseball is considering drastic measures to reduce pitching dominance.  But the Twins pitchers have been dreadful within a year when everyone else has been pitching lights out!  Brutal.

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I was thinking the 1977 team’s pitching staff. The hitting was fantastic with Carew at .388, Bostock .336, Glenn Adams .338 and Larry Hisle with .302 and 119 RBIs. They had a winning record but finished 4th in the 7 team AL West. In looking at the pitching staff, the over all ERA is probably better than this year’s but a big factor was 2 reliever’s combining for 280 innings at well below staff ERA. The team was managed by the man I consider the best manager in Twins history, the brilliant tactician Gene Mauch. Heres the staff:

I’m including the offense for fun!

Screen Shot 2021-06-17 at 10.02.10 PM.png

Screen Shot 2021-06-18 at 12.47.40 AM.png

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Judging from how poor the results were compared to the league average for that year, the 1904 team may be the worse staff ever. The only redeeming thing about that staff is that potentially Highball Wilson was ahead of his time,  He had high heat. The other notable thing is that Highball was frequently seen  holding a glass that contained an amber liquid after a loss.  That style of glass now bears his name, as by the end of the season he had built up quite the tolerance. 

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On 6/16/2021 at 9:34 PM, Cody Christie said:

Derek Falvey was brought over from Cleveland to help the Twins build a pitching pipeline. Those dreams have yet to come to fruition as the 2021 Twins might be the worst pitching staff in team history.

 

They have had 3 seasons given we lost last year so I will reserve judgment.  They cobbled together a pretty good group of starters and RPs in 2019 & 2020 despite several years of failing to develop pitchers internally.  If Duran / Balazovic / Canterino / Enlow / Ober / Winder / Valimont and Sands all fail to assimilate to the MLB level in the next two tears we can say they have failed.  Right now we can only observe that they have assembled a group of prospects that are promising.

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On 6/16/2021 at 9:34 PM, Cody Christie said:

Derek Falvey was brought over from Cleveland to help the Twins build a pitching pipeline. Those dreams have yet to come to fruition as the 2021 Twins might be the worst pitching staff in team history.

 

Sorry!  Post repeated for some reason.

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