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  • Mixed Developments For Future of Twins Rotation

    Kyle-a-palooza? Gibsanity? Gibsmas?

    Whatever you wanted to call it, Kyle Gibson's debut on Saturday generated a palpable buzz throughout Twins Territory. Eagerly awaited and long overdue, the rookie's arrival aids a pitching staff in the midst of its third straight year of sub-mediocrity.

    He doesn't profile as one of the league's elite pitchers, but Gibson is likely the best pitching prospect to graduate from the Twins' system since Matt Garza in 2006, and he showed why in his debut.

    Gibson came as advertised, delivering with high velocity and impressive command from an imposing 6'6" frame. The 25-year-old exhibited no signs of jitters as he fired 64 of 91 pitches for strikes and issued no walks. The Royals managed eight hits in six innings, but few of them were hit hard and Gibson limited the damage to two runs in an easy victory.

    Some voices have warned that expectations for the right-hander might be getting out of hand. Even his ardent supporters will admit that Gibson probably doesn't have the upside of a top-tier pitcher in the major leagues.

    But so what? There was an awful lot to like in Saturday's performance. Gibson displayed poise that was, in light of all he has gone through to get to this point, shocking. He peppered the lower regions of the strike zone with a heavy fastball that routinely whizzed in at 92-93 MPH and occasionally touched 95. That's a number Twins fans aren't accustomed to seeing with anyone other than Glen Perkins on the hill.

    It might be that "so overrated he's underrated" phenomenon, but I get the sense that some actually are underselling Gibson's ability to an extent. In his first big-league game, he was constantly locating a power sinker around knee level, mixing in breaking balls that made people miss. He's done these things throughout his career, when healthy. Guys with that type of stuff/command combo often excel in the majors, and if Saturday was any indication, Gibson has the makeup to match.

    Will he ever be Stephen Strasburg? No. But can he be the No. 1 starter in a quality rotation? I'd say so. Keep in mind the Twins haven't had a true "ace" since Johan Santana's departure, and have still made the playoffs twice since then.

    Of course, it's not Gibson that the Twins are eyeing as the next arm to earn that vaunted ace label. That would be Alex Meyer, who was acquired in return for Denard Span during the offseason. When he came over from Washington, Meyer instantly became the highest-upside pitcher in the system.

    The ideal scenario was that Meyer and Gibson (and perhaps Trevor May, if he ever refined his control enough) could join forces atop the embattled Minnesota rotation, helping usher in a return to contention sooner rather than later.

    Unfortunately, as well as things are currently going for Gibson, the developments surrounding Meyer have been far more troubling. The 24-year-old hasn't pitched in a month due to shoulder soreness, and there now appears some doubt over whether he'll pitch again this year.

    Asked earlier this month about the prospect's status, Ryan said that MRI results had come back clean and that Meyer was fine, adding, "I don't think anybody thought it was that serious." Twins fans breathed a sigh of relief.

    And yet, three weeks later, Meyer still has not pitched competitively. It doesn't look like he's especially close to doing so. Over the weekend, New Britain manager Jeff Smith had this to say about the righty: "Hopefully by the end of the season, really just later in the season, he'll be able to pitch in some games." Matt Straub, who covers the Rock Cats for the New Britain Herald, inferred that to mean Meyer would be out for at least the entire month of July.

    The Twins insist that they're just playing it cautious with Meyer, who is on a throwing program in Ft. Myers, but it's tough not to be alarmed with the indefinite return date. Shoulder problems are always scary for young hurlers, and Meyer -- whose delivery is high-stress, as he delivers in the upper-90s from a wiry 6'9" build with a three-quarters arm slot -- has always presented more risk than most.

    Hopefully, this truly is an instance where the team is taking every possible precaution with a young man who might be the single most important asset in the entire organization at this point. But fans will find little comfort in Ryan's assertions that everything is fine, especially when we now know this to be the front office's initial assurance in the case of every injury, even those that prove severe.

    And hell, maybe we should be worrying a little more about Gibson's shoulders. After all, he's carrying a heavy burden as one of the brightest hopes for the Twins' rotation for the foreseeable future. Until Meyer successfully returns to the mound or May takes a step forward, Gibson alone will be labeled with that designation.
    This article was originally published in blog: Mixed Developments For Future of Twins Rotation started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 47 Comments
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      The decision to send Lannan down by the Nats was a controversial one, and a close call made at the close of spring training. It was largely a function of the Nats SP numbers game as they continued to improve their rotation depth with young arms- not a reflection of a sudden drop-off in Lannan. The Twins didn't want him, that is a given- as they had already "moved on" to being shrewd and "thrifty" with their dumpster diving methodology and rather peculiarly signing a starter just 8 months off of TJ surgery. So you and I can look at what the Twins are trotting out in the rotation now---- and the numbers that are the worst in baseball for starting pitchers--- and one can't possibly come to the conclusion that there "was no reason to include him in the trade." To the contrary, other than Deduno, Lannan would have been the best option coming out of spring training- better, and a more durable and reliable track record than Worley and Correia, at a cost of just one year's worth of Correia.
      Sure Lannan. I grant there is a chance he could have been a slight upgrade on Pelfrey and/or Correia.

      Probably not enough of a reason to acquire him for the right to pay twice as much as he got as a free agent. Perhaps the Twins should have signed him.
    1. BoBo71's Avatar
      BoBo71 -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      The future of the rotation is in the CR, GCL and E-twon
      Guys like Felix Jorge, Randy Rosario, Yorman Landa, Berrios, Stewart are going to be the future.
      Gibson, Meyer, May are nice pitchers, but in my opinion, by the time the above guys get to AA, the Twins are going to be looking at a amazing future rotation.
      Just not true. Most players look good at A, Low-A, Rookie, and Instructional. It's when they get to AA that their weaknesses--both physical and mental--become magnified. Look at Trevor May. There's no way any one of the prospects you listed is more highly regarded than May was when he was at those lower levels. Yet, here he is now, seemingly stuck in AA for eternity. Gibson and Meyer (along with Barrios, perhaps) are the cream of the crop in this organization. There are plenty of other interesting arms, but those are the guys that have been pegged to lead this organization to the promise land. And it looks like we'll need to come up with another one or two at AA or higher via trade if we really want to contend soon.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Sure Lannan. I grant there is a chance he could have been a slight upgrade on Pelfrey and/or Correia.

      Probably not enough of a reason to acquire him for the right to pay twice as much as he got as a free agent. Perhaps the Twins should have signed him.
      John Lannan pitched 8 innings of shutout ball tonight against the Nationals. ERA is now 4.23. 8 innings and 4.23 are more than enough reasons to have signed, or traded for, Lannan, compared to the bulk of the Twins starting staff. (Has anyone gone 8 this year?) 5 of 8 starts on the season have been Quality Starts, including 3 of 5 since being reactivated. If fully healthy, and given the Feldman trade, how much could have been received in trade for Lannan?
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      8 starts on the season? I'd go with "not much more than Corriea".
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      8 starts on the season? I'd go with "not much more than Corriea".
      It's hard to project a leg injury 3 starts into the season, especially from a guy who ha had only one 15 day DL in his entire career up to 2013.

      Oh BTW, 5 QS out of 8 total gives him a 63% rate of starting effectiveness. The Twins staff has 32 QS in 86 games- that comes out to 37%. Kevin Correia? 9 QS in 17 starts-- 53%.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      John Lannan pitched 8 innings of shutout ball tonight against the Nationals. ERA is now 4.23. 8 innings and 4.23 are more than enough reasons to have signed, or traded for, Lannan, compared to the bulk of the Twins starting staff. (Has anyone gone 8 this year?) 5 of 8 starts on the season have been Quality Starts, including 3 of 5 since being reactivated. If fully healthy, and given the Feldman trade, how much could have been received in trade for Lannan?
      Personally I was not opposed to your hypothetical Lannan signing (as I suggested in my previous post). I just don't think the Twins, if they were to do such a signing, needed to spend twice as much on him as it would have taken to sign him.

      But to answer your question - at this point I don't think Lannan would net the Twins much of anything. Perhaps that would change by the deadline.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Jokin, you need to drop this Lannan thing. When not injured, the guy has been thoroughly mediocre in the National League. He's no better than what the Twins have. I mean... seriously, is this a bit?
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