• Samuel Deduno keeps throwing curves

    It is probably an indictment of the Minnesota Twins’ rotation when the biggest conversation of the month of March is focused on the performance of a pitcher who is currently not on the team’s 40 man roster.

    As Mike Pelfrey, Vance Worley and Kevin Correia continue to turn in clunkers in the Grapefruit League, Samuel Deduno’s sometimes sloppy, sometimes dominating but always energetic outings in the World Baseball Classic -- including last night’s five inning, two hit, three walk and five strikeout victory – has captured many fans’ attentions back in the Upper Midwest.

    Despite not maintaining the same free and easy motion as he showed during his start against Spain earlier in the tournament, Deduno forged his way past the United States (even while walking in a run and facing several 3-0 counts) and then kept Puerto Rico at bay to help the Dominican Republic capture the World Baseball Classic title.

    What helped the right-hander up to and in the championship game was having a filthy curveball.

    This is nothing new for Sammy. Last year, Pitch F/X-ly speaking, he held one of the best curves in baseball – allowing an average of just .160 on the hook, 14th lowest among those who threw it 200 or more times. He was also one of the most frequent users of the curveball, by percentage.

    Throughout the World Baseball Classic he showed great confidence in this pitch. In his start against Team USA, Deduno had the misfortunate of not only loading the bases, but walking USA’s Eric Hosmer to give the home team an early first inning lead. With the bases still loaded, Deduno went to a full count on Adam Jones and sent him packing with a 3-2 curve for a called strike. Ballsy pitch. In another instance, he would go on to throw a 3-2 bender to his potential battery mate, Joe Mauer, only to get the catcher to roll over to the first baseman. You know how often Mauer had seen a 3-2 curve in 2012? Six times.

    Last night, of the 14 batters Deduno retired, nine of those came on his curve.

    When facing Puerto Rico’s Angel Pegan and a runner on second, Deduno spun a 3-2 curveball to get Pegan to turnover and knock into the second out of the inning. Two innings later, Deduno fell behind Jesus Feliciano and ultimately lost him on a curve out of the zone, he proved that he was not going to lay a fastball in there (if, you know, he’s capable of that).

    As I’ve repeated numerous times, Deduno has got electric stuff which has helped him defy statistical convention for success at the major league level. If opponents are unable to square up pitches and are constantly off-balance with curveballs in fastball counts, it is hard to drive home those hitters he walked.

    It’s a tightrope act but, so far, Deduno has pulled it off.
    This article was originally published in blog: Samuel Deduno keeps throwing curves started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 48 Comments
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Great article, possibly one of your best, Parker. But then, some of the best writing in the world happens after Midnight.

      Good analogy in your closing sentence. The highwire is always the best event at the circus, and since the present Twins pitching rotation qualifies for the side show, if not the freak parade, Deduno is bound to give the ringmasters, Ryan and Gardy, fits, if they are forced to fete him as their #1 Attraction.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      Sammy? You too, Parker? Not Dedy? (I'll give you a typo on Pagan - Peggy? Too familiar for not being a Twins' player?) Interesting how well Deduno has done in the WBC without Anderson (Andy?) or Gardenhire (Gardy?) in his ear. Very interesting. If Samuel Deduno hasn't won a starting role in this mediocre rotation, something is drastically wrong. Bring on the tightrope act, the hook, the electric stuff, and the scary fastball.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      That's why I like watching Sam Deduno and Cole DeVries. Both guys juggle chainsaws while riding a unicycle on the high wire. Sure, sometimes the result is untidy, but as Russell Crowe said in Gladiator, "Are you not entertained?"
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      If opponents are unable to square up pitches and are constantly off-balance with curveballs in fastball counts, it is hard to drive home those hitters he walked.

      Love that line.
      I have been reluctant to insist he be given a real chance at a place in the rotation because of the ridicule one gets when one says things like that, but it sure looks like he is earning a shot.
    1. Yoshii's Avatar
      Yoshii -
      Please give him a chance to join the rotation out of spring training! Its not like we will be missing anyone right?
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Good stuff, Parker. Here's what immediately came to my mind as I read this: Were the Twins (and in particular, their catchers and whoever else flashes signals in to those catchers concerning pitch selection) paying attention? If Deduno's most effective, and perhaps most controllable, pitch with a 3-2 count is his curveball, will the Twins consistently be as willing to call for the curve in those high-leverage counts as Deduno's Dominican battery mates were? If not... if they stick to convention and call for the fastball, which in his case tends to move unpredictably... I don't think we should be surprised if we see less favorable results.
    1. Hoosier_Twinsfan's Avatar
      Hoosier_Twinsfan -
      For the Twins this year, Deduno is a pitcher they need in the rotation. A pitcher with the combination of confidence and no fear is something the Twins would benefit from. The organization has nothing to lose this year, but maybe 90 games again?

      I consider myself one of the most optimistic Twins fans, anything within 10 games of .500 would be considered a positive this season. It just so happens Deduno could help the club win some more games....give this kid a chance!
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      The one thing I would add is that even though his curve has always been solid, he's got to get his fastball under control, otherwise at best he is a AAAA type or a bullpen arm.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I (Parker) would have to look, but it appears to me that the Twins catchers were willing to let him throw a lot of curveballs. I wouldn't trust Mauer to call 3-2 curveballs, but I'm sure Butera would and probably Doumit too. The Twins gave him an opportunity last year and he took advantage of that. They didn't keep him on the 40 man roster but thought enough of him to want to keep him around. I'd say that the Twins should get a ton of credit for helping Deduno get to this point after spending so much time not being good.

      That said, I'm also not willing to say 13 innings is enough of a sample to show much. I figure he'll get to Ft. Myers in the next 24 hours or so. He should be back on the mound on Sunday (though I think Walters is starting that day?) and maybe get one more appearance before opening day?

      I truly enjoy watching Deduno pitch. I just wonder if the 40 man roster issue will bite him to start the season.
    1. fairweather's Avatar
      fairweather -
      The thing that separates Deduno and DeVries is that they both have an above average curve. Both of them have a legit out pitch in their curve. Hendriks just like Blackburn and Slowey before him has NO OUT PITCH and will always give up more than a hit per inning at the big league level even if he has totally dominated the minor leagues. Same for the prized additions of Pelfrey and Correia. Yuck.
    1. fairweather's Avatar
      fairweather -
      "I just wonder if the 40 man roster issue will bite him to start the season."--What's going to be biting Deduno through the first 2 months of the season is the 15 million the Twins have committed to a couple of stiffs. After those 2 get set packing back to the senior circuit, where their marginal skills play better, Deduno will get his chance......AGAIN. I'm predicting that once he get's that chance no matter how good his results it still won't be good enough to make the collective MLB brain trust to think he's anything more than a career minor league player. It's so ingrained in these coaches that a pitcher MUST be able to locate his fastball that they may never see past that. That is my opinion of the "enigma" that is Deduno. Personally it's hard for me to look past the erratic fastball but if my other choices were Pelfrey, Correia, and Hendriks I'd look real hard.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Roenicke and Wood both look pretty vulnerable to me on the 40-man, although the Twins may not be willing to cut them loose before the season. Pressly could still go back to Boston, I suppose, although that doesn't look too likely anymore.

      Roenicke looks like another Jeff Gray type to me -- it doesn't look like he will be any kind of asset over the other guys we will have stashed in AAA. I would rather roll the dice on continuing Deduno's WBC showing right now.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      The Twins need starters. Plus, Deduno is just so f*#king fun to watch when he's on. 3-2 pitch, OK here it comes right down the middle.... not!!!
    1. Physics Guy's Avatar
      Physics Guy -
      Have you seen Roenicke pitch or are you just going by his spring training stats? He threw 88 innings in Colorado last year with a 3.25 ERA. Statistically speaking, Roenicke is not Jeff Gray. I haven't actually seen him pitch yet, so maybe last year was a fluke. His K rate was down last year, but at least he had a history of higher numbers.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Even though Deduno is 29, there is still some hope he can become a good, reliable pitcher. He's certainly improved with the Twins. Late turnarounds are rare, but not unheard of. Chris Carpenter and more recently R.A. Dickey both significantly improved at age 29 and age 35 respectively.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by YourHouseIsMyHouse View Post
      Even though Deduno is 29, there is still some hope he can become a good, reliable pitcher. He's certainly improved with the Twins. Late turnarounds are rare, but not unheard of. Chris Carpenter and more recently R.A. Dickey both significantly improved at age 29 and age 35 respectively.
      I get what you are saying, but RA Dickey should not be used as a reference at any point, unless DeDuno somehow becomes a knuckleballer.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I'm predicting that once he get's that chance no matter how good his results it still won't be good enough to make the collective MLB brain trust to think he's anything more than a career minor league player. It's so ingrained in these coaches that a pitcher MUST be able to locate his fastball that they may never see past that. That is my opinion of the "enigma" that is Deduno.
      To be fair, the Twins brass made him available to every other club during the offseason and not one claimed him, so Deduno is not just fighting the Twins' notions but all of the MLB teams.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      To be fair, the Twins brass made him available to every other club during the offseason and not one claimed him, so Deduno is not just fighting the Twins' notions but all of the MLB teams.
      ..... and to be a different fair..... what to you think would happen NOW if the Twins made him available to every other club? ......... things have changed since then. Good thing they are not removing him from the 40 man roster now.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      I doubt teams are suddenly going to be knocking down his door, when the only difference between then and now is a couple handfuls of innings in exhibition games. I would tend to believe that MLB talent evaluaters are smarter than that.

      Again, IMO, give him his shot, he's earned THAT MUCH, but I think some people are getting way too excited over a tiny sample size of innings in completely meaningless games. (Ok, I get that the WBC may not be meaningless to everyone involved, but they are not MLB games.)
    1. Halsey Hall's Avatar
      Halsey Hall -
      It might be a tiny sample size this year, but I really enjoyed watching him pitch last year. And I tuned out so many games early last season after a few innings because it was a waste to watch. I wouldn't mind seeing him make the roster.
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