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    Joe Ryan's September Surge: A Sign of Things to Come for the Minnesota Twins Pitcher  in 2023?

    Parker Hageman

    What changed at the end of the year for Joe Ryan, and was his September performance a sign of a breakout for 2023?

    Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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    Joe Ryan seems like a cerebral individual, especially regarding the art and science of pitching. 

    "I love talking pitching," Ryan told Fangraphs.com's David Laurilia in April. "I love messing around with the baseball, manipulating it in the dugout, just getting that feel. Then I get back on the mound with all of that. It's a good time."

    "Messing around with the baseball" makes it sound like his pitches happen by a cosmic accident, but as you can glean from his back and forth with Laurilia, Ryan's approach is far from accidental. He cites vertical approach angle and horizontal break, reviewing video of his recent outings and those of his high school days when he pitched from a higher arm slot (he tried to emulate Tim Lincecum). While there is some experimentation in pitching, Ryan's practice is very much deliberate. 

    Ryan was a unicorn in that his fastball, while thrown at a very average velocity, piled up swinging strikes at the rate of a much harder thrower. As I detailed after he arrived in 2021, Ryan's low arm slot and riding fastball were thrown at the upper third of the strike zone, turning hitters into pretzels. 

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    4 hours ago, Melissa said:

    Very illuminating, Parker - thank you! Ryan’s Cali surfer dude/water volleyball player chill vibe disguises his sharp and flexible baseball brain. You call him “cerebral,” which sums that part up well.

    Good to see a young-ish pitcher not wearing down late in the season, too.

    I know people do not care for the Twins' limiting their starting pitcher's innings, but I do think that played a role in Ryan's 2022 season. 

    While most pitcher's fastball velocity follows a bell curve in a summer (down in the spring, peaks in the mid-season, declines towards the end of the year), Ryan actually gained velocity:

    Apr 92.0

    May 92.3

    June 90.8

    July 91.6

    Aug 92.4

    Sept/Oct 92.6

    The COVID may have played a part in that but I do think that by not wearing him down, he had some left in the tank in September/October

    Too bad the team couldn't give him the chance to see if that would have been effective in the playoffs...

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