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Tempering Expectations for Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan


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Minnesota expects Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan to be penciled into the back of the club's rotation during the 2022 season. As with any young players, especially pitchers, expectations need to be tempered when making projections for their impact on the team next season.

2021 Recap
Last season, Bailey Ober surprised many during his rookie campaign. He made 20 starts and posted a 4.19 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP and 9.4 K/9. He was a welcome addition to a Twins rotation that needed plenty of replacements in the season's second half. Twins Daily named him the club's Rookie of the Year, even in a season that saw top prospects like Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach make their debuts.  

Joe Ryan was one of the key pieces Minnesota received in return for Nelson Cruz. With the Twins, he made five starts and posted a 4.05 ERA with a 0.79 WHIP and 10.1 K/9. His numbers look even better if you take out his final start, where he allowed six earned runs over 4 2/3 innings. He pounded the strike zone with over 70% strike rate and held batters to a .168/.210/.347 slash line. It was a small sample size, but the results were impressive. 

Minor League Retrospective
Minnesota selected Ober with their 12th round pick back in 2017 out of the College of Charleston. Back in 2019, he posted some very impressive numbers between three different levels in the Twins system. Ober finished that season with a 0.69 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP with 100 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings. It certainly put him on the prospect map entering the 2021 season. 

Ryan joined the Twins from the pitching-rich Tampa Bay organization. Initially, the Rays selected him with their 7th round pick back in 2018. He dominated at three different levels in 2019 with a 1.96 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP while striking out 13.3 batters per nine innings. Baseball America named him a top-100 prospect entering the 2020 campaign. 

Ober and Ryan have impressive numbers, but neither player has thrown more than 125 innings in any professional season. Ober's career-high was last season when he combined for 108 1/3 innings between Triple-A and the majors. Ryan threw 123 2/3 innings back in 2019 and, like Ober, didn't pitch at all in 2020. Last year, Ryan compiled 66 innings in the minors to go with his 26 2/3 innings with the Twins. Both pitchers are expected to throw more innings next season, but they don't seem likely to approach 180+ innings. 

Projecting the 2022 Campaign 
Multiple projection systems can help fans better understand what to expect from Ober and Ryan next season. FanGraphs lists Ober's Steamer projection has him making 28 starts and pitching 158 innings with a 4.51 ERA and 157 strikeouts. Baseball-Reference projects Ober to throw 106 innings with a 4.16 ERA and 109 strikeouts. Both of those outcomes seem reasonable, but getting to 160 innings pitched should be one of Ober's goals. 

Ryan is a little harder to project because it's uncertain what the Twins will do this winter. Does he start the year in the minors? Steamer projections have him throwing 166 innings with a 4.36 ERA and 173 strikeouts. That seems like a big jump in innings for a young pitcher. Baseball-Reference goes the opposite direction in their projection model, with Ryan limited to 73 innings. During those innings, they project him having a 4.19 ERA with a 1.16 WHIP and 76 strikeouts. 

Minnesota needs plenty of starting pitching depth for 2022, but Ober and Ryan's expectations need to be kept in check for both players. Neither player should be relied on as a top of the rotation starter, especially based on their limited big-league track record. 


What do you think realistic expectations should be for Ober and Ryan in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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I don't expect them to pitch much over 120 innings and that's if they have a good season. Here I'm advocating again the importance of maintaining  a good group of long relief including a good amount of AAAA prospects to rotate in and out of the active roster. So we don't rely so heavily on the rotation and short relief.

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I;m hoping Ober can be pushed to 150 innings, and pitching at least five innings in a game. I would consider Ryan to be the fifth starter at this point with the chances of getting skipped, and hope you can get 120 innings out of the guy.

 

2022 will be BIG for Ryan. I want him to be the starter we all love, but I sadly see him becoming a Joe Nathan-like closer.

 

The pain for the Twins is any number of other guys, from Balazovic, Winder, Duran, Sands - all will be on limited innings themselves. Seems the minor leagues this apst season were happy letting guys go four or even three innings rather than get into a decision situation, jsut to strecth them out but still limit innings. I see that happening to all of the fore mentioned, and doubt we see any of them until the end of the seson. The only pitcher that could possibly break the rotation would be Strotman, as spring training will be his time to shine in the sun (or Thorpe or Smeltzer, if they are still Twins). Of course Barnes and Jax could also be in the mix, as well as Dobnak.

 

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When talking about innings, shouldn’t you include his Olympic innings?  Don’t know what that total was, but I suspect it was more than a few if you include the innings he must have pitched in both actual games and other game/scrimmages leading up to Tokyo.  You show 92-2/3, it wouldn’t be surprising if there were another 15-25 on top that.  So he may have been close to 120 this year.

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There will be plenty of prospects at AAA this year that will be ready for opportunity at MLB. Could have 6-man rotation out of Balazovic, Duran, Winder, Sands, Jax, Strotman, or Barnes at St. Paul. Should be able to give any of these a short term callup to give someone some extra rest. Tired of Twins signing so many proven to be borderline MLB pitchers, Twins need to see what their upper-level prospects can do at MLB level.

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"As with any young players, especially pitchers, expectations need to be tempered when making projections for their impact on the team next season."

Ryan is 25, will be 26 in June.

Ober is 26, will be 27 beginning of July.

I don't really consider these guys "young". These are the prime years. Soto just turned 23 and has 4 complete seasons in the show. That is young. These guys need to get on with it, and playing baseball comes with expectations. The sooner the better. Time is relentless. Ober is a longshot, and I am sure the Twins will let it go too far if he is failing. I think Ryan will shine.

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Ober, Ryan, Dobnak? They are all wild cards, but the only cards the Twins hold right now. It is a perilous situation. If you add Duran, Winder, Balazovic .... well, better but none of these guys will ever be confused for Doc Gooden as a teenager. We all will hope for the best. 

Let's be positive and think an average of 120 innings from each of these six pitchers. That would be awesome and now we only need to add three experienced starters and make sure the bullpen is solid. Let the prospects have some rope, but support them with three guys up front and a decent relief corps.

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I've been kind of harping on this in multiple posts.  Right now they are penciled in as our #4 & #5 starters.  In reality, they are BOTH our #5.  I think one projection is too optimistic and the other is too pessimistic.  Reality is probably somewhere in between.  This is why the twins MUST sign and/or trade for FOUR SP's and possibly consider a 6-man rotation.  Ryan & Ober just will not provide enough innings and whoever could be considered a "reinforcement" (Balazovic, Duran, Winder etc...will certainly be on the same innings/pitch limits.  Once we get to 2023 (a good two years removed from Covid lockdowns and the like) things may edge their way back closer to normal.  But unless your name is Max Scherzer (a HORSE if there ever was one) a LOT of pitchers will be operating under various "limitations."  

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1 hour ago, Mike Sixel said:

Is someone expecting top of the rotation starters, that they need this warning? On what planet might the Twins start Ryan in the minors? I have no idea how that is even an option. 

My guess the only way he starts in the minors is if he is out of sorts in spring training, or they do the unthinkable and go out and get 4 starters in free agency and trades.

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Ryan pitched about 115 innings in total last year between AAA, MLB and the Olympics. Modern pitchers go 5-6 innings per start so that would be 160-192 innings if he started all 32 games. I wouldn't expect the Twins to be looking to limit his innings below 160. I also believe the Twins are more likely to implement a pitch count limit than an actual innings limit so it may come down to how efficient Ryan is during the season. Even more will depend on how Ryan feels and any signs of fatigue.

In regard to Ober, I'd also think the Twins wouldn't be concerned about him throwing 160 innings. Injuries have riddled Ober's career so here's hoping he stays healthy, but expecting 32 starts out of him might be considered pretty optimistic. Ober pounds the strike zone and walks few hitters so I'd expect him to be pretty efficient when effective. With Ober's age, I'd think the Twins would pretty much leave it up to how Ober feels or signs of him fading due to fatigue.

In regard to their overall performance, I'd hope both can keep their ERA/FIP under 4.50. That would be a success. Everything under 4.25 would be ice cream on top.

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