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Derek Wetmore

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  1. Let's look into how the Twins have done against aces this season, to see if we can learn more about how they'll perform in the playoffs -- when they'll mostly face the best. I counted eight aces that the Twins have faced, and compared the results for those pitchers vs. the Twins against how they did vs. everybody else. The upshot: Bring on the postseason.Rocco Baldelli told reporters that the Twins will start Kenta Maeda, José Berríos, and, if required, Michael Pineda in a 3-game Wild Card series. There goes that drama. Now we turn our attention to the other dugout. In this piece I wanted to look at the sum total of how the Twins performed against aces this year. That way, we can have an idea heading into a series whether the opposition gives Game 1 to someone named Cole or Ryu or Bieber. How have the Twins fared against aces in 2020? Let’s round them up and look at the lines. It's a crude analysis just to give us an idea. The point of the piece isn't to quibble over the word "ace" or to factor in elite relievers. Those bits would help further improve the accuracy of our conclusion. If I’m missing any aces that started a game against Minnesota in 2020, please let me know in the comments and we can add him. Using a combination of this season’s stats and previous beliefs about a pitcher (our prior) the list of starters that I think would qualify looks like this: Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger, Zach Plesac, Lucas Giolito, Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks. They missed Jack Flaherty, and we’ll see how the Reds series shakes out to wrap up the season. I’ll show some work and then let’s make a conclusion. Shane Bieber (3 starts) … Twins are 1-2 in his starts 21 innings, 12 hits, 5 earned runs, 5 walks, 31 strikeouts [2.14 ERA, 6.3% walk rate, 38.8% strikeout rate] Bieber has given up 2 home runs to the Twins and 7 all year. He was dazzling in his start July 30 against the Twins, with 8 shutout innings, 13 punchouts and no walks. Anyway, that’s about how you’d expect a future Cy Young winner to pitch across 21 innings, and he’ll be a tough matchup for anyone that faces the Indians in October (or late-September). Lucas Giolito (3 starts) … Twins are 1-2 14 2/3 innings, 13 hits, 12 earned runs, 7 walks and 15 strikeouts [7.37 ERA, 10.6% walk rate, 22.7% strikeout rate] The Twins have tagged Giolito for 5 home runs of his 8 home runs this season. That’s 63% of his long balls in 20% of his innings. Who says Pareto’s efficiency doesn’t apply to Major League aces? Mike Clevinger (2 starts) … Twins are 1-1 10 innings, 14 hits, 6 earned runs, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts [5.40 ERA, 13.3% walk rate, 24.4% strikeout rate] He was returned from the Alternate Site after serving his team-issued timeout because the Indians needed an arm to face the Twins and they had an all-star just sitting around. It also proved to be his final start for Cleveland before they traded him to the Padres in exchange for an extended window of team control and some clubhouse chemistry. Zach Plesac … Twins are 1-0 7 innings, 6 hits, 5 earned runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts Twins slugged 3 home runs against Plesac in his lone outing. Marwin Gonzalez and Willians Astudillo went back-to-back, and later Byron Buxton got him for a 2-run drive. The two starts before that he was strong against the Royals and in the one start since he was lights-out against the Tigers, so good job, Twins. Corbin Burnes … Twins are 1-0 5 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 3 walks and 5 strikeouts The Twins won’t have to worry about the National League until … they have to worry about the National League. Even so, they won 3 of 4 games against N.L. aces, including Burnes in mid-August. This was Jorge Polanco’s infield hit walk-off that scored a streaking Byron Buxton from third base in the 12th inning. So, you know, we tend to forget Burnes’ involvement almost entirely. But that night they also had to face Josh Hader, Devin Williams, Brent Suter and David Phelps, which looks like an October-ish bullpen to me. Brandon Woodruff ... Twins are 1-0 5+ innings, 9 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts Ildemaro Vargas tripled and scored. Woodruff left with 2 runners on in the 6th inning and reliever Freddy Peralta let one in, charged to Woodruff, on a deep sac fly off the bat of, who else, Ildemaro Vargas. Yu Darvish … Twins are 1-0 6 innings, 9 hits, 4 earned runs, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts This one’s pretty recent so you probably remember it. Darvish is a legit Cy Young contender this year in the National League. No team had more hits against Darvish than the Twins, and Minnesota also scored more runs off him than any other club. Kyle Hendricks … Twins are 0-1 8 innings, 3 hits, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts Yeah, Hendricks was awesome. The Twins as a team have hit .242/.316/.431 (.321 wOBA) this year. They're 7-6 in games started by the dudes on this list and they’ve scored roughly 4.5 runs per game in 2020, good for 17th in baseball. That’s down from 5.73 runs per game last year (2nd in baseball). There are a few 7-inning bouts to account for but the math is pretty clear that, yes, they haven’t hit like the all-around potent performers that they were a year ago. I totaled up all the performances and combined them. Assuming that my excel muscles haven’t atrophied to zero, here’s the math. This selected group of 8 aces combined for a 2.57 ERA in 500 innings, with a 30.8% strikeout rate and a 6.2% walk rate. Sounds ace-like to me. Here’s how the Twins impacted them. Against Minnesota, these top starters had a 4.11 ERA, and against the rest of the world, it was a 2.30 ERA. The A.L. average for starters this year is 4.49, so basically what this is saying is that the Twins took these good starters and dragged them closer to the median. The Twins also drew more walks (7.9% vs. 5.9%), struck out less often (28.1% vs. 31.3%) and homered at a better clip against these aces (1.17 HR/9 vs. 0.89) than the rest of the league managed as a group. They aren't massive differences across the board but I thought it was interesting. If you’re fretting about how the Twins lineup will fare against the other team’s ace(s) in October, there’s only one conclusion from these findings. Bring on the postseason. If you liked this piece and want more from Derek Wetmore ... — Become a member of the '5 Thoughts' Twins newsletter ($) — Or listen to the 5 Thoughts podcast (free) — Twitter + Facebook + Email MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebookor email Click here to view the article
  2. Rocco Baldelli told reporters that the Twins will start Kenta Maeda, José Berríos, and, if required, Michael Pineda in a 3-game Wild Card series. There goes that drama. Now we turn our attention to the other dugout. In this piece I wanted to look at the sum total of how the Twins performed against aces this year. That way, we can have an idea heading into a series whether the opposition gives Game 1 to someone named Cole or Ryu or Bieber. How have the Twins fared against aces in 2020? Let’s round them up and look at the lines. It's a crude analysis just to give us an idea. The point of the piece isn't to quibble over the word "ace" or to factor in elite relievers. Those bits would help further improve the accuracy of our conclusion. If I’m missing any aces that started a game against Minnesota in 2020, please let me know in the comments and we can add him. Using a combination of this season’s stats and previous beliefs about a pitcher (our prior) the list of starters that I think would qualify looks like this: Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger, Zach Plesac, Lucas Giolito, Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks. They missed Jack Flaherty, and we’ll see how the Reds series shakes out to wrap up the season. I’ll show some work and then let’s make a conclusion. Shane Bieber (3 starts) … Twins are 1-2 in his starts 21 innings, 12 hits, 5 earned runs, 5 walks, 31 strikeouts [2.14 ERA, 6.3% walk rate, 38.8% strikeout rate] Bieber has given up 2 home runs to the Twins and 7 all year. He was dazzling in his start July 30 against the Twins, with 8 shutout innings, 13 punchouts and no walks. Anyway, that’s about how you’d expect a future Cy Young winner to pitch across 21 innings, and he’ll be a tough matchup for anyone that faces the Indians in October (or late-September). Lucas Giolito (3 starts) … Twins are 1-2 14 2/3 innings, 13 hits, 12 earned runs, 7 walks and 15 strikeouts [7.37 ERA, 10.6% walk rate, 22.7% strikeout rate] The Twins have tagged Giolito for 5 home runs of his 8 home runs this season. That’s 63% of his long balls in 20% of his innings. Who says Pareto’s efficiency doesn’t apply to Major League aces? Mike Clevinger (2 starts) … Twins are 1-1 10 innings, 14 hits, 6 earned runs, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts [5.40 ERA, 13.3% walk rate, 24.4% strikeout rate] He was returned from the Alternate Site after serving his team-issued timeout because the Indians needed an arm to face the Twins and they had an all-star just sitting around. It also proved to be his final start for Cleveland before they traded him to the Padres in exchange for an extended window of team control and some clubhouse chemistry. Zach Plesac … Twins are 1-0 7 innings, 6 hits, 5 earned runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts Twins slugged 3 home runs against Plesac in his lone outing. Marwin Gonzalez and Willians Astudillo went back-to-back, and later Byron Buxton got him for a 2-run drive. The two starts before that he was strong against the Royals and in the one start since he was lights-out against the Tigers, so good job, Twins. Corbin Burnes … Twins are 1-0 5 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 3 walks and 5 strikeouts The Twins won’t have to worry about the National League until … they have to worry about the National League. Even so, they won 3 of 4 games against N.L. aces, including Burnes in mid-August. This was Jorge Polanco’s infield hit walk-off that scored a streaking Byron Buxton from third base in the 12th inning. So, you know, we tend to forget Burnes’ involvement almost entirely. But that night they also had to face Josh Hader, Devin Williams, Brent Suter and David Phelps, which looks like an October-ish bullpen to me. Brandon Woodruff ... Twins are 1-0 5+ innings, 9 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts Ildemaro Vargas tripled and scored. Woodruff left with 2 runners on in the 6th inning and reliever Freddy Peralta let one in, charged to Woodruff, on a deep sac fly off the bat of, who else, Ildemaro Vargas. Yu Darvish … Twins are 1-0 6 innings, 9 hits, 4 earned runs, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts This one’s pretty recent so you probably remember it. Darvish is a legit Cy Young contender this year in the National League. No team had more hits against Darvish than the Twins, and Minnesota also scored more runs off him than any other club. Kyle Hendricks … Twins are 0-1 8 innings, 3 hits, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts Yeah, Hendricks was awesome. The Twins as a team have hit .242/.316/.431 (.321 wOBA) this year. They're 7-6 in games started by the dudes on this list and they’ve scored roughly 4.5 runs per game in 2020, good for 17th in baseball. That’s down from 5.73 runs per game last year (2nd in baseball). There are a few 7-inning bouts to account for but the math is pretty clear that, yes, they haven’t hit like the all-around potent performers that they were a year ago. I totaled up all the performances and combined them. Assuming that my excel muscles haven’t atrophied to zero, here’s the math. This selected group of 8 aces combined for a 2.57 ERA in 500 innings, with a 30.8% strikeout rate and a 6.2% walk rate. Sounds ace-like to me. Here’s how the Twins impacted them. Against Minnesota, these top starters had a 4.11 ERA, and against the rest of the world, it was a 2.30 ERA. The A.L. average for starters this year is 4.49, so basically what this is saying is that the Twins took these good starters and dragged them closer to the median. The Twins also drew more walks (7.9% vs. 5.9%), struck out less often (28.1% vs. 31.3%) and homered at a better clip against these aces (1.17 HR/9 vs. 0.89) than the rest of the league managed as a group. They aren't massive differences across the board but I thought it was interesting. If you’re fretting about how the Twins lineup will fare against the other team’s ace(s) in October, there’s only one conclusion from these findings. Bring on the postseason. If you liked this piece and want more from Derek Wetmore ... — Become a member of the '5 Thoughts' Twins newsletter ($) — Or listen to the 5 Thoughts podcast (free) — Twitter + Facebook + Email MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. In October, would you be better off with 2 consecutive innings of Tyler Duffey, or one inning from Duffey and one inning from Tyler Clippard? And are there positive or negative downstream effects? And are the Twins getting a look at what happens when their best reliever pitches more than one inning?Tyler Duffey may have caught your attention Wednesday night because he’s an excellent reliever. Rocco Baldelli might have caught your attention because he stuck his best reliever out there for a second inning of work. Matter of convenience? Or planning ahead for the postseason? With the Twins leading 3-1, and really needing to win to keep open the possibility of winning the division, Duffey came on to pitch the seventh inning. (Cody Stashak had done well to keep the game where it was after Jake Odorizzi’s had to leave in the 4th inning with an injured finger.) Boom, boom, boom. Grounder, lineout and a popup, Duffey swiftly retired three good White Sox hitters on 10 pitches. Miguel Sanó hit a 2-run homer the next half-inning to make it 5-1, but there was Duffey, out there for a second inning of work to pitch to the bottom of Chicago’s lineup. "We knew he had to cover innings tonight," Duffey told reporters after the game. "Luckily, I was able to be efficient and get two for us, so all our guys are ready to go tomorrow." Before we rush and place way too much importance on one outing in mid-September – and trust me, I will – we could quickly note that the reason he was back out there after a quick inning may have just been a matter of convenience and circumstance. The night before, Randy Dobnak didn’t get out of the fifth inning, so trusted reliever Tyler Clippard and Jorge Alcala were asked to get five outs and six outs, respectively. Then with Odorizzi leaving early from his first start back from the IL, and Duffey making such quick work of the 4-5-6 hitters, maybe it was just the path of least resistance to use him for a second frame. Or MAYBE, just maybe, the Twins are toying with an idea. Duffey has recorded more than three outs in three outings this year: Aug. 31 (White Sox), Sept. 6 (Tigers) and Sept. 16 (White Sox). Circumstances were different in each game, but it’s at least interesting that they’re clustered fairly recently, as postseason matchups come into better focus. Furthermore, Duffey has only pitched once without a day of rest this season (among his 19 appearances), so I would be skeptical about the prospects of him pitching consecutive games in October. Given that each round will be played straight through with no off days ‘til it’s over, we could settle on an optimal Wild Card usage for Duffey as pitching in Games 1 and 3 (if necessary). Would you use him for multiple innings at a time, then? If you’d like to consider it in October, it could make sense to toy with it over the final 9 games. I think it’s hard to ask a guy to do something in October that he hasn’t really been asked to do before that. I’ll patiently wait and see how the Twins handle the final games of the regular season, with health being the primary objective, of course. Ideally, the Twins would use their top two starters – Kenta Maeda and pick your preference between José Berríos and Michael Pineda -- and be done with the series in two games. Then, use whichever guy you didn’t use in Game 2 for the first game of the Division Series. That, in theory, wouldn’t leave too many innings to cover with their dynamic bullpen. And in that case, maybe the multi-inning question is just a complete non-starter. It’s so simple, right! To achieve their real goal they’ll need to win series in that best-of-three, a best-of-five and two best-of-seven series. The wisdom of One Series at a Time still applies. There’s definitely potential over that bulk of innings to lean on your relievers, and the Twins are fortunate to be quite deep in that department. One argument for using Duffey for more than one inning is that he’s one of the best relievers in baseball -- .241 wOBA, 34.2% strikeout rate, only two homers all year. One argument against that logic is that the Twins have a number of relievers who have been great and could help spread the workload around for a postseason run that could run 22 games in 25 days. Someone smarter than me will have to shed light on the question: Would you be better off with two consecutive innings of Duffey, or one inning from Duffey and one inning from Tyler Clippard? And are there positive or negative downstream effects? One thing I’ll say is that I didn’t exactly agree with the way that Baldelli used his bullpen last October in a win-or-go-home series against the Yankees. Too chill for me. This time around, you’d like to see the Twins more eager to go for the knockout punch. Then again, a knockout strategy could be something like, ‘Let Kenta Maeda pitch a lot and then use a combination of the nine relievers in favorable matchups and one-inning bursts.’ What do you think? Are you asking Duffey to sit down and get back up again when the season is on the line this October? If you liked this piece and want more from Derek Wetmore ... — Become a member of the '5 Thoughts' Twins newsletter ($) — Or listen to the 5 Thoughts podcast (free) — Twitter + Facebook + Email MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  4. Tyler Duffey may have caught your attention Wednesday night because he’s an excellent reliever. Rocco Baldelli might have caught your attention because he stuck his best reliever out there for a second inning of work. Matter of convenience? Or planning ahead for the postseason? With the Twins leading 3-1, and really needing to win to keep open the possibility of winning the division, Duffey came on to pitch the seventh inning. (Cody Stashak had done well to keep the game where it was after Jake Odorizzi’s had to leave in the 4th inning with an injured finger.) Boom, boom, boom. Grounder, lineout and a popup, Duffey swiftly retired three good White Sox hitters on 10 pitches. Miguel Sanó hit a 2-run homer the next half-inning to make it 5-1, but there was Duffey, out there for a second inning of work to pitch to the bottom of Chicago’s lineup. "We knew he had to cover innings tonight," Duffey told reporters after the game. "Luckily, I was able to be efficient and get two for us, so all our guys are ready to go tomorrow." Before we rush and place way too much importance on one outing in mid-September – and trust me, I will – we could quickly note that the reason he was back out there after a quick inning may have just been a matter of convenience and circumstance. The night before, Randy Dobnak didn’t get out of the fifth inning, so trusted reliever Tyler Clippard and Jorge Alcala were asked to get five outs and six outs, respectively. Then with Odorizzi leaving early from his first start back from the IL, and Duffey making such quick work of the 4-5-6 hitters, maybe it was just the path of least resistance to use him for a second frame. Or MAYBE, just maybe, the Twins are toying with an idea. Duffey has recorded more than three outs in three outings this year: Aug. 31 (White Sox), Sept. 6 (Tigers) and Sept. 16 (White Sox). Circumstances were different in each game, but it’s at least interesting that they’re clustered fairly recently, as postseason matchups come into better focus. Furthermore, Duffey has only pitched once without a day of rest this season (among his 19 appearances), so I would be skeptical about the prospects of him pitching consecutive games in October. Given that each round will be played straight through with no off days ‘til it’s over, we could settle on an optimal Wild Card usage for Duffey as pitching in Games 1 and 3 (if necessary). Would you use him for multiple innings at a time, then? If you’d like to consider it in October, it could make sense to toy with it over the final 9 games. I think it’s hard to ask a guy to do something in October that he hasn’t really been asked to do before that. I’ll patiently wait and see how the Twins handle the final games of the regular season, with health being the primary objective, of course. Ideally, the Twins would use their top two starters – Kenta Maeda and pick your preference between José Berríos and Michael Pineda -- and be done with the series in two games. Then, use whichever guy you didn’t use in Game 2 for the first game of the Division Series. That, in theory, wouldn’t leave too many innings to cover with their dynamic bullpen. And in that case, maybe the multi-inning question is just a complete non-starter. It’s so simple, right! To achieve their real goal they’ll need to win series in that best-of-three, a best-of-five and two best-of-seven series. The wisdom of One Series at a Time still applies. There’s definitely potential over that bulk of innings to lean on your relievers, and the Twins are fortunate to be quite deep in that department. One argument for using Duffey for more than one inning is that he’s one of the best relievers in baseball -- .241 wOBA, 34.2% strikeout rate, only two homers all year. One argument against that logic is that the Twins have a number of relievers who have been great and could help spread the workload around for a postseason run that could run 22 games in 25 days. Someone smarter than me will have to shed light on the question: Would you be better off with two consecutive innings of Duffey, or one inning from Duffey and one inning from Tyler Clippard? And are there positive or negative downstream effects? One thing I’ll say is that I didn’t exactly agree with the way that Baldelli used his bullpen last October in a win-or-go-home series against the Yankees. Too chill for me. This time around, you’d like to see the Twins more eager to go for the knockout punch. Then again, a knockout strategy could be something like, ‘Let Kenta Maeda pitch a lot and then use a combination of the nine relievers in favorable matchups and one-inning bursts.’ What do you think? Are you asking Duffey to sit down and get back up again when the season is on the line this October? If you liked this piece and want more from Derek Wetmore ... — Become a member of the '5 Thoughts' Twins newsletter ($) — Or listen to the 5 Thoughts podcast (free) — Twitter + Facebook + Email MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. The Twins are the A.L.’s Best Strikeout Bullpen, and they're doing it with more than just the top-end arms. The impressive depth is a glimpse into their roster-building beliefs, and it also raises questions about how to best use their depth of talent once October rolls around.The Twins lead the American League in reliever strikeout rate, at 27.8%. Their bullpen arms rack up punchouts more often than the Indians (26.9%), A’s (25.6%) and White Sox (25.2%) – collectively, their stiffest competition in the quest for the obscure but no doubt Very Real title of the A.L.’s Best Strikeout Bullpen (on a rate basis). It’s a long title but trust me it’s coveted. Ten different Twins pitchers have called themselves relievers and pitched more than 10 innings so far this season – six of those guys have struck out at least 30% of the hitters that they’ve been asked retire. Lower that threshold for innings and Cody Stashak jumps on the board, too. This dawned on me while I was researching a column about the Twins ahead of the trade deadline this year. I was trying to make a point about Archie Bradley and his theoretical value to a Twins team that almost certainly would make the postseason – and just as certainly will have some questions to answer once it gets there. (Note: Andrew made the point here for Twins Daily.) Bradley has a good but not great strikeout rate. He’s punched a ticket for 25% of the hitters that he's faced this year, and did it for 26.7% of them over the previous three seasons combined. I was trying to make the comparison to the Twins bullpen, and without over-fitting by using stats profiles, I do think it’s helpful to communicate more than the math: “Tyler Duffey has a 33.9% strikeout rate.” It’s a little easier to picture, for some, when you read or hear “Tyler Duffey this season is striking out hitters a little bit more often than Kenley Jansen and Ryan Pressly, for example.” The topic came up in a recent interview with Dan Hayes for a podcast, in which the esteemed Athletic beat writer claimed that the Twins had 10 reliable relievers that they could go to, and I said As If, and he started listing them. Hayes has a point. If each reliever is going good, the Twins' pitching staff is deep. Here’s the current strikeout rate by Twins relievers, for reference: Trevor May, 38.4% (16.2 innings) Cody Stashak, 34.4% (8 innings) Tyler Duffey, 33.9% (16.2 innings) Jorge Alcala, 30.7% (19 innings) Caleb Thielbar, 30.4% (13.1 innings) Taylor Rogers, 30.2% (14.1 innings) Sergio Romo, 30.0% (15.1 innings) Matt Wisler, 27.7% (12 innings) Tyler Clippard, 27.1% (15.1 innings) And that’s cool when you’re considering that the postseason seeding hangs in the balance in the very near future, because depth of pitching staff is a good way to string together wins and win series over a six month nine-week season. I always find it interesting, though, to compare with recent World Series winners, and what they basically tell us is you should count on six relievers. Six relievers and some creative use of your starters, like the Nats did with Patrick Corbin last season in their improbable run to the World Series title. The year before, the Red Sox used seven bullpen arms, although in fairness they also deployed starters Chris Sale, David Price and Eduardo Rodruiguez in relief on special occasions. The runner-up Dodgers that year used eight relievers; runner-up Houston last season used eight relievers, and also had Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander, so let’s consider that numbers as the upper bound for this exercise. Again, 10 relievers that you can trust is nice to have in the regular season and can lead to a luxury ‘pen situation for the manager and pitching coaches, but it’s also instructive to narrow our focus with an eye toward October. This actually stitches together two conversations that could use some further exploration. I debated this week about the first four starters you’d use in a postseason series. Really, you might only get to pick three. And with six starters going to stake their claim to those spots for the Twins over the next three weeks, what do you do with the runners up? Which starters would be best suited to pitch out of the bullpen? Kenta Maeda is the most convenient answer because of his experience but I think you’d want him starting Game 1 if you had to pick today. And further down that decision tree, if you’re going to pitch somebody out of the bullpen from the group of Maeda, Michael Pineda, José Berríos, Randy Dobnak, Rich Hill and Jake Odorizzi, which relievers are you sacrificing for that move? The Bullpen Trust Tree is ever evolving, and I’m fascinated to see what it looks like by the end of this calendar month. If you liked this piece and want more from Derek Wetmore ... — Become a member of the '5 Thoughts' Twins newsletter ($) — Or listen to the 5 Thoughts podcast (free) — Twitter + Facebook + Email MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  6. The Twins lead the American League in reliever strikeout rate, at 27.8%. Their bullpen arms rack up punchouts more often than the Indians (26.9%), A’s (25.6%) and White Sox (25.2%) – collectively, their stiffest competition in the quest for the obscure but no doubt Very Real title of the A.L.’s Best Strikeout Bullpen (on a rate basis). It’s a long title but trust me it’s coveted. Ten different Twins pitchers have called themselves relievers and pitched more than 10 innings so far this season – six of those guys have struck out at least 30% of the hitters that they’ve been asked retire. Lower that threshold for innings and Cody Stashak jumps on the board, too. This dawned on me while I was researching a column about the Twins ahead of the trade deadline this year. I was trying to make a point about Archie Bradley and his theoretical value to a Twins team that almost certainly would make the postseason – and just as certainly will have some questions to answer once it gets there. (Note: Andrew made the point here for Twins Daily.) Bradley has a good but not great strikeout rate. He’s punched a ticket for 25% of the hitters that he's faced this year, and did it for 26.7% of them over the previous three seasons combined. I was trying to make the comparison to the Twins bullpen, and without over-fitting by using stats profiles, I do think it’s helpful to communicate more than the math: “Tyler Duffey has a 33.9% strikeout rate.” It’s a little easier to picture, for some, when you read or hear “Tyler Duffey this season is striking out hitters a little bit more often than Kenley Jansen and Ryan Pressly, for example.” The topic came up in a recent interview with Dan Hayes for a podcast, in which the esteemed Athletic beat writer claimed that the Twins had 10 reliable relievers that they could go to, and I said As If, and he started listing them. Hayes has a point. If each reliever is going good, the Twins' pitching staff is deep. Here’s the current strikeout rate by Twins relievers, for reference: Trevor May, 38.4% (16.2 innings) Cody Stashak, 34.4% (8 innings) Tyler Duffey, 33.9% (16.2 innings) Jorge Alcala, 30.7% (19 innings) Caleb Thielbar, 30.4% (13.1 innings) Taylor Rogers, 30.2% (14.1 innings) Sergio Romo, 30.0% (15.1 innings) Matt Wisler, 27.7% (12 innings) Tyler Clippard, 27.1% (15.1 innings) And that’s cool when you’re considering that the postseason seeding hangs in the balance in the very near future, because depth of pitching staff is a good way to string together wins and win series over a six month nine-week season. I always find it interesting, though, to compare with recent World Series winners, and what they basically tell us is you should count on six relievers. Six relievers and some creative use of your starters, like the Nats did with Patrick Corbin last season in their improbable run to the World Series title. The year before, the Red Sox used seven bullpen arms, although in fairness they also deployed starters Chris Sale, David Price and Eduardo Rodruiguez in relief on special occasions. The runner-up Dodgers that year used eight relievers; runner-up Houston last season used eight relievers, and also had Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander, so let’s consider that numbers as the upper bound for this exercise. Again, 10 relievers that you can trust is nice to have in the regular season and can lead to a luxury ‘pen situation for the manager and pitching coaches, but it’s also instructive to narrow our focus with an eye toward October. This actually stitches together two conversations that could use some further exploration. I debated this week about the first four starters you’d use in a postseason series. Really, you might only get to pick three. And with six starters going to stake their claim to those spots for the Twins over the next three weeks, what do you do with the runners up? Which starters would be best suited to pitch out of the bullpen? Kenta Maeda is the most convenient answer because of his experience but I think you’d want him starting Game 1 if you had to pick today. And further down that decision tree, if you’re going to pitch somebody out of the bullpen from the group of Maeda, Michael Pineda, José Berríos, Randy Dobnak, Rich Hill and Jake Odorizzi, which relievers are you sacrificing for that move? The Bullpen Trust Tree is ever evolving, and I’m fascinated to see what it looks like by the end of this calendar month. If you liked this piece and want more from Derek Wetmore ... — Become a member of the '5 Thoughts' Twins newsletter ($) — Or listen to the 5 Thoughts podcast (free) — Twitter + Facebook + Email MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. Can the Twins buck the recent trend of World Series winners' path to a championship? Not since the 2009 Yankees has a team won it all without the help of a significant addition at the Trade Deadline. The Twins, rounding into better health with the return of three key players, will try to accomplish that feat this October.With Byron Buxton and Michael Pineda back in action – and now that Josh Donaldson is the proud owner of two healthy calves and back in the fold – the Twins must feel like they picked up some nice late-season additions for the low, low price of some mid-summer discomfort. Patience, not prospects, turned out to be the reasonable asking price to add a couple of stars to their clubhouse at the MLB Trade Deadline. Hey, it sure beats giving up Royce Lewis. And while the Twins’ claims that health should help point the bow of this ship back in the right direction, I couldn’t help but compare them to teams in recent years with similar aspirations. How many recent World Series winners – Minnesota’s stated and obvious goal – have won it all without making a significant in-season addition by way of a trade? It depends on the definition of ‘significant addition’ and also that of ‘recent,’ but the truth of it is that no team did that trick in the last decade. We’ll have to go back to the 2009 super Yankees team that won the World Series without an important addition at the trade deadline. (In fairness, they did purchase Chad Gaudin from the Padres that summer, and he was useful in the regular season, with a 3.43 ERA in 42 innings for the Yankees, split between starting and relief; he wasn’t much of a factor in October.) So, that’s the stage the Twins have set. They’ll be bucking the recent trend if they can get to and win the World Series, with only a minor trade (Ildemaro Vargas) and subsequent release. 2019, Nationals Traded for Daniel Hudson, Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland. The most noteworthy addition, Hudson, didn’t have a great World Series overall but he did close out Game 7 and how many people on this planet can say that? They also signed Asdrubal Cabrera as a free agent on August 6. He had six hits as the starting second baseman in the World Series, pushing Brian Dozier to the bench. (World Series losers Houston Astros went for it by adding Zack Greinke at the trade deadline.) 2018, Red Sox Traded for Steve Pearce, who was great (you’ll remember the June trade that yielded a future World Series MVP); Nathan Eovaldi (who pitched so well in three games that he got paid a large sum of money); and Ian Kinsler. The Dodgers that year traded for Brian Dozier and only slightly more notably, Manny Machado, who famously did not hustle. 2017, Astros* Their pre-deadline acquisitions included lefty reliever Francisco Liriano and Codebreaker. August trades brought Tyler Clippard and, oh yeah, Justin Verlander. The Dodgers, who technically lost the World Series, traded for Yu Darvish (two World Series starts, which now only serve to make us sad – he got rocked for nine runs in just 3 1/3 combined innings to the very-possibly-cheating Astros). L.A. also traded for Tony Cingrani (three WS games) and Tony Watson (two WS games), plus an August trade for Curtis Granderson. 2016, Cubs Chicago, you’ll remember, traded Gleyber Torres for Aroldis Chapman. They also added Mike Montgomery (five World Series games) and Joe Smith, who pitched well to help get them there but then didn’t pitch in the postseason. Derek Falvey’s Indians traded for Andrew Miller, and made an August trade for Coco Crisp. 2015, Royals Traded for Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. The Mets traded for, among others, Tyler Clippard (A’s), Yoenis Céspedes (Tigers), and a waiver trade for Addison Reed who appeared in five World Series games before he pitched with the Twins. 2014, Giants Traded for Jake Peavy, who pitched well down the stretch (2.17 ERA in 12 starts with SF) but then got lit up in his two starts in the World Series (four runs in five innings in his first start, Game 2; and chased in the second inning of an eventual 10-0 loss in Game 6). 2013, Red Sox Added Jake Peavy in a three-team trade (with the Tigers and the White Sox). You might not remember the ‘13 Red Sox as “Jake Peavy’s Red Sox,” but he did start Game 3 of the World Series for them. 2012, Giants Giants swept the Tigers and Sergio Romo saved three of the four games. San Francisco traded for Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence, and the pair combined for eight hits and six runs between them in the Fall Classic. 2011, Cardinals The Cards swung an eight-player deal – which famously included ex-Twin P.J. Walters – that netted Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson, Corey Patterson and Marc Rzepcynski. Dotel and Rzepcynski appeared in nine games between the two of them, and Jackson started Game 4. 2010, Giants This is the first one where you’d argue with the term “significant trade” acquisition. Midstream they picked up Chris Ray, Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez, and, in August, Mike Fontenot and Jose Guillen. And they picked up future NLCS MVP Cody Ross on waivers in late August. Of the pitchers, Lopez and Ramirez combined for 1 2/3 innings in the World Series, and the others didn’t appear. However – and I know this doesn’t technically count here because of when he was added - Ross was on base eight times and scored five runs in the World Series for the Giants. He played all three outfield spots down the stretch and hit .288/.354/.466 after joining San Francisco from the Florida Marlins. If you liked this piece and want to read more from Derek Wetmore ... — Subscribe to the 5 Thoughts newsletter — Or listen to the 5 Thoughts podcast MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  8. With Byron Buxton and Michael Pineda back in action – and now that Josh Donaldson is the proud owner of two healthy calves and back in the fold – the Twins must feel like they picked up some nice late-season additions for the low, low price of some mid-summer discomfort. Patience, not prospects, turned out to be the reasonable asking price to add a couple of stars to their clubhouse at the MLB Trade Deadline. Hey, it sure beats giving up Royce Lewis. And while the Twins’ claims that health should help point the bow of this ship back in the right direction, I couldn’t help but compare them to teams in recent years with similar aspirations. How many recent World Series winners – Minnesota’s stated and obvious goal – have won it all without making a significant in-season addition by way of a trade? It depends on the definition of ‘significant addition’ and also that of ‘recent,’ but the truth of it is that no team did that trick in the last decade. We’ll have to go back to the 2009 super Yankees team that won the World Series without an important addition at the trade deadline. (In fairness, they did purchase Chad Gaudin from the Padres that summer, and he was useful in the regular season, with a 3.43 ERA in 42 innings for the Yankees, split between starting and relief; he wasn’t much of a factor in October.) So, that’s the stage the Twins have set. They’ll be bucking the recent trend if they can get to and win the World Series, with only a minor trade (Ildemaro Vargas) and subsequent release. 2019, Nationals Traded for Daniel Hudson, Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland. The most noteworthy addition, Hudson, didn’t have a great World Series overall but he did close out Game 7 and how many people on this planet can say that? They also signed Asdrubal Cabrera as a free agent on August 6. He had six hits as the starting second baseman in the World Series, pushing Brian Dozier to the bench. (World Series losers Houston Astros went for it by adding Zack Greinke at the trade deadline.) 2018, Red Sox Traded for Steve Pearce, who was great (you’ll remember the June trade that yielded a future World Series MVP); Nathan Eovaldi (who pitched so well in three games that he got paid a large sum of money); and Ian Kinsler. The Dodgers that year traded for Brian Dozier and only slightly more notably, Manny Machado, who famously did not hustle. 2017, Astros* Their pre-deadline acquisitions included lefty reliever Francisco Liriano and Codebreaker. August trades brought Tyler Clippard and, oh yeah, Justin Verlander. The Dodgers, who technically lost the World Series, traded for Yu Darvish (two World Series starts, which now only serve to make us sad – he got rocked for nine runs in just 3 1/3 combined innings to the very-possibly-cheating Astros). L.A. also traded for Tony Cingrani (three WS games) and Tony Watson (two WS games), plus an August trade for Curtis Granderson. 2016, Cubs Chicago, you’ll remember, traded Gleyber Torres for Aroldis Chapman. They also added Mike Montgomery (five World Series games) and Joe Smith, who pitched well to help get them there but then didn’t pitch in the postseason. Derek Falvey’s Indians traded for Andrew Miller, and made an August trade for Coco Crisp. 2015, Royals Traded for Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. The Mets traded for, among others, Tyler Clippard (A’s), Yoenis Céspedes (Tigers), and a waiver trade for Addison Reed who appeared in five World Series games before he pitched with the Twins. 2014, Giants Traded for Jake Peavy, who pitched well down the stretch (2.17 ERA in 12 starts with SF) but then got lit up in his two starts in the World Series (four runs in five innings in his first start, Game 2; and chased in the second inning of an eventual 10-0 loss in Game 6). 2013, Red Sox Added Jake Peavy in a three-team trade (with the Tigers and the White Sox). You might not remember the ‘13 Red Sox as “Jake Peavy’s Red Sox,” but he did start Game 3 of the World Series for them. 2012, Giants Giants swept the Tigers and Sergio Romo saved three of the four games. San Francisco traded for Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence, and the pair combined for eight hits and six runs between them in the Fall Classic. 2011, Cardinals The Cards swung an eight-player deal – which famously included ex-Twin P.J. Walters – that netted Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson, Corey Patterson and Marc Rzepcynski. Dotel and Rzepcynski appeared in nine games between the two of them, and Jackson started Game 4. 2010, Giants This is the first one where you’d argue with the term “significant trade” acquisition. Midstream they picked up Chris Ray, Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez, and, in August, Mike Fontenot and Jose Guillen. And they picked up future NLCS MVP Cody Ross on waivers in late August. Of the pitchers, Lopez and Ramirez combined for 1 2/3 innings in the World Series, and the others didn’t appear. However – and I know this doesn’t technically count here because of when he was added - Ross was on base eight times and scored five runs in the World Series for the Giants. He played all three outfield spots down the stretch and hit .288/.354/.466 after joining San Francisco from the Florida Marlins. If you liked this piece and want to read more from Derek Wetmore ... — Subscribe to the 5 Thoughts newsletter — Or listen to the 5 Thoughts podcast MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. Right on cue! And great point on Eno - he does great work. When I spoke to Eno this spring he said that he can see Berrios as still having Cy Young upside. I think we'll all agree that he's not getting there without better command than we've seen this season, but his 'stuff' has wowed his he entered pro ball. Thank you for the comment!
  10. Nah, I don't think I can get down with this. See his latest start as evidence that it's not over for him (at 26).
  11. The implication is that I'm cherry picking only the bad luck and that's not true here, unfortunately.
  12. I totally see what you're saying, although Good Berrios is great. It's obviously frustrating to have to discern before a start if you'll get his best, his worst, or something in between. At the same time, that's kind of life as a starting pitcher for all but the very best.
  13. Sometimes they make their own luck. My point is that there's more to it than that.
  14. Among American League pitchers with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title, Berríos currently sports the third-highest Batting Average on Balls in Play, .333, which is about 56 points higher than the league as a whole right now. Let’s say a few general things about Berríos and BABIP, shall we?I have an old friend, which I promise is my last brag of this piece, who believes fully in stats as a way of analyzing things like sports performances and understands the folly – or limitations, perhaps – of trusting your eyes. And so I was shocked when this friend said, rather plainly, that observation would be much better than stats if only you could observe every part of a performance and hold it in your memory correctly. I’m paraphrasing a little, but that was the gist of it. Stats over eye test, mostly, unless you could actually take the eye test and apply to its fullest extent. So it is with José Berríos so far this season. Our eyes tell us that it’s not going well for him through 5 starts, especially given our collective expectations. The box scores never look that awful, and yet, he’s running a 5.92 ERA. Despite the default ‘small sample’ warnings, we’re very close to half of his scheduled starts for the 2020 season. Among American League pitchers with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title, Matthew Boyd has allowed the highest batting average on balls in play (BABIP). We used to treat the BABIP leaderboard as a stand-in for the good- or bad-luck leaderboard for pitchers. Now, that’s a bit oversimplified way of looking at it, for a couple of reasons. That might be beyond the scope of this article, and I’ll get to the point. Boyd is having a rough start to his season. Nathan Eovaldi is second on that list, and Berríos is third. Opponents are hitting for a .333 batting average against him when they put the ball in play and it doesn’t go over the fence, about 56 points higher than the league as a whole right now. (Just for fun, the other end of that list starts with Lance Lynn in the top spot, followed by Kenta Maeda [2] and Randy Dobnak [4]). Let’s say a few general things about Berríos and BABIP: 1) Loud, solid contact should not be treated the same as tappers and dribblers. Evaluating quality of contact is crucial. 2) He’s walking too many hitters, which you can think of as a symptom of command issues. His 11.7% walk rate is almost double his rate from last year, and I don’t think that will work to achieve his goals. We’ve seen some questionable plate umpiring, but in my eyes we also haven’t seen the most impressive command of Berríos’ career. He doesn’t always hit his spot, he can’t always find a strike when he needs one, and there are too many non-competitive pitches at times. 3) BABIP ignores home runs, and the Bad Guys have gone yard in four of Berríos’ five starts this year. 4) It’s also true that he’s been the victim of some bad luck. And with neutral luck or good luck, his stat line would appear to paint a rosier picture. Take, for example, his last start, Saturday at home against the Royals. In the 4th of one of the double-header games, two full-count walks preceded a 3-run homer against Berríos. One of the walks was a non-competitive pitch. And the home run, to Whit Merrifield, was a changeup and it didn’t look like middle-in was all that close to his desired location for that pitch. So, you might hear it explained as “one mistake,” but the truth is that it’s an example of a series of mistakes, with an exclamation point that shows up in the box score. The start before that, in Kansas City, Berríos walked Merrifield in the 3rd inning (pitcher’s fault), and then Jorge Soler hit a weak bouncing grounder that found its way through no man’s land on the right side of the infield (bad luck). Merrifield moved to third base on the play and later scored on a sacrifice fly. Earlier that day, it was a lazy fly ball that found grass (you might call that bad luck) followed by Soler missing a home run by six inches (not bad luck), and then a weak ground ball right to second base got through a shifted infield (bad luck), and the result was a two-run single. I won’t go through this whole exercise and try to retroactively take “earned runs” and erase them from Berríos’ ledger. But hopefully the examples illustrate my point. I think he hasn’t been quite as bad as we generally associate a 6-ERA pitcher. In watching back some sequences from his previous starts, I’ll be tempted going forward to track the number of non-competitive pitches. Anecdotally, there have been too many for a top-flight pitcher like Berríos. Maybe now that the Twins have their ace, the pressure’s off. You’d like to see the command round into form and for Berríos to stop walking guys and serving up homers. Oh, and a little batted-ball luck could help him out, too. If you liked this piece and want to read more from Derek Wetmore... — Subscribe to the 5 Thoughts newsletter — Or listen to the 5 Thoughts podcast LATEST FROM TWINS DAILY — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
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