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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. chuchadoro's Avatar
      chuchadoro -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thegrin View Post
      I wish everyone would stop focusing on the speed of pitches. Location and baseball smarts are more important than mph. Gibson looks like he has a good off-speed out pitch. Let us hope he develops to become a Cy Young candidate, using smars & skills, instead of speed.
      Is this because I mentioned in passing that Gibby throws harder than Webb? Did you see the first part of the statement that was very complimentary of Webb's sinker?

      I don't remember writing "Gibson throws harder, therefore he'll be better than Webb." Apparently, you misinterpreted what I wrote or are aggravated by "everyone's" emphasis on power pitchers.
    1. fairweather's Avatar
      fairweather -
      Watching Gibson he reminds me of a young Kris Benson. Now we all hope he has a better, healthier, more successful career than Benson, but that's who he reminds me of.
    1. chuchadoro's Avatar
      chuchadoro -
      Quote Originally Posted by fairweather View Post
      Watching Gibson he reminds me of a young Kris Benson. Now we all hope he has a better, healthier, more successful career than Benson, but that's who he reminds me of.
      Thanks. We also hope he's less of a d bag and is able to steer clear of mentally unstable strippers.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Velocity allows for a little more margin for error in location, but coupled with good command and two good secondary pitches, that makes an ace. But velocity alone is not enough.
      No doubt about that but with a lot of good coaching and luck, a pitcher can improve comand and learn secondary pitches. Velocity is generally a natural attribute though, which is why a lot of baseball people seem to focus on that first and hope the other two traits later come together.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Now, more than ever, why didn't the Twins get John Lannan thrown into the deal, when the Nats were going to avoid arbitration and cut him anyway? At least they would have had a still-young (only 28) and proven innings-eater to show for the "blockbuster" trade.
      Securing the right to pay Lannan twice as much through arby as he got as a free agent doesn't exactly seem like added value.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      It's not like they traded our best outfielder and leadoff guy guy for Meyer.
      Shoulders are dicey but probably a little premature to call Meyer dead.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Maybe the Twins should sign a free agent pitcher this off-season to take Meyer's place in the 2014 rotation?
    1. orangevening's Avatar
      orangevening -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      Terry Ryan, what are you doing on this site?
      That always cracks me up...
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Securing the right to pay Lannan twice as much through arby as he got as a free agent doesn't exactly seem like added value.
      Compared to what the Twins have now? The worst SP staff in all of baseball?

      Assuming Lannan doesn't hurt his leg in April, Lannan would have been a huge value, if he had just performed at his career numbers (and he had started the season strong before the injury). Either as a proven, but still young, back-end innings-eater for a Correia-type cost.... or as a future potential trading chip or throw-in, the Twins had more than enough payroll space to take on his cost----and it's been more than demonstrated in real-time-spades that the Twins rotation options were... and for the most part still are.... simply awful.

      Sorry, Lannan would have been very good value at whatever cost arbitration would have decided upon.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      Shoulders are dicey but probably a little premature to call Meyer dead.
      I don't see anyone on this thread who has posted anything close to "calling Meyer dead"- prematurely or otherwise. Legitimate concerns started with the OP and have followed through, from the Twins FO on all the way down to the other respondents in this thread.

      To assert anything like what you have inferred was said is, IMO, disingenuous.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      I don't see anyone on this thread who has posted anything close to "calling Meyer dead"- prematurely or otherwise. Legitimate concerns started with the OP and have followed through, from the Twins FO on all the way down to the other respondents in this thread.

      To assert anything like what you have inferred was said is, IMO, disingenuous.
      It was a response to someone complaining about giving up Span. I think there is a lot of time to go before the full verdict of that trade can be made.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Compared to what the Twins have now? The worst SP staff in all of baseball?

      Assuming Lannan doesn't hurt his leg in April, Lannan would have been a huge value, if he had just performed at his career numbers (and he had started the season strong before the injury). Either as a proven, but still young, back-end innings-eater for a Correia-type cost.... or as a future potential trading chip or throw-in, the Twins had more than enough payroll space to take on his cost----and it's been more than demonstrated in real-time-spades that the Twins rotation options were... and for the most part still are.... simply awful.

      Sorry, Lannan would have been very good value at whatever cost arbitration would have decided upon.
      I'm not overly impressed with a guy who spent most of his age 27 season at AAA, but if the Twins would have wanted him they could have signed him for less than the arby figure as a free agent. There was no reason to include him in the trade.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      With regards to the "importance of velocity" discussion... below, I've ranked every Twins pitcher by ERA, with their average fastball velocity accompanying (min. 25 innings, although I had to throw in Gibson because he fits so perfectly):

      Pitcher - ERA - FB velo (MPH)

      Glen Perkins - 2.05 - 94.6
      Ryan Pressly - 2.63 - 92.9
      Kyle Gibson - 3.00 - 92.2
      Anthony Swarzak - 3.08 - 91.3
      Sam Deduno - 3.32 - 90.2
      Josh Roenicke - 3.38 - 91.1
      Jared Burton 3.57 - 91.6
      Casey Fien - 3.58 - 90.1
      Brian Duensing - 3.81 - 92.0
      Kevin Correia - 4.08 - 90.2
      Scott Diamond - 5.40 - 88.2
      Pedro Hernandez - 5.54 - 88.4
      P.J. Walters - 6.03 - 89.7
      Mike Pelfrey - 6.11 - 91.9
      Vance Worley - 7.21 - 89.5

      Now, let me be very clear that this is a vast oversimplification, and Pelfrey is an obvious exception, but you can't help being struck looking at that pattern. The difference between 89 and 91 is a mere fraction of a millisecond, but in baseball, those count. It means added margin for error. When you don't have great stuff or consistently precise command (as is the case with most of these current Twins' starters) you need that margin for error.
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      If it's a sticky shoulder surgery situation for Meyer, by the time they properly diagnose and schedule it, he probably would have little chance to be ready to pitch next spring.

      But it could be even worse than that. Recent studies have been done that show that while around 85% of elbow surgeries end up in pitchers equaling or exceeding previous performance levels......for shoulders, it's less than 50%. This is very, very disconcerting news and the Twins extreme caution is well-justified. If things don't take a turn back to the positive, it's now getting too uncomfortably near the area wherein it's less than a coin flip that Meyer still projects to being the potential Ace pitcher we once all hoped for.

      Now, more than ever, why didn't the Twins get John Lannan thrown into the deal, when the Nats were going to avoid arbitration and cut him anyway? At least they would have had a still-young (only 28) and proven innings-eater to show for the "blockbuster" trade.
      The reportsMRI was negative. Do you have some inside information or just having pessimism?
      Proven innings eater was out two months. I guess that is the qualification you are calling innings eater. Below average era for the NL to boot.
    1. TRex's Avatar
      TRex -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      With regards to the "importance of velocity" discussion... below, I've ranked every Twins pitcher by ERA, with their average fastball velocity accompanying (min. 25 innings, although I had to throw in Gibson because he fits so perfectly):

      Pitcher - ERA - FB velo (MPH)

      Glen Perkins - 2.05 - 94.6
      Ryan Pressly - 2.63 - 92.9
      Kyle Gibson - 3.00 - 92.2
      Anthony Swarzak - 3.08 - 91.3
      Sam Deduno - 3.32 - 90.2
      Josh Roenicke - 3.38 - 91.1
      Jared Burton 3.57 - 91.6
      Casey Fien - 3.58 - 90.1
      Brian Duensing - 3.81 - 92.0
      Kevin Correia - 4.08 - 90.2
      Scott Diamond - 5.40 - 88.2
      Pedro Hernandez - 5.54 - 88.4
      P.J. Walters - 6.03 - 89.7
      Mike Pelfrey - 6.11 - 91.9
      Vance Worley - 7.21 - 89.5

      Now, let me be very clear that this is a vast oversimplification, and Pelfrey is an obvious exception, but you can't help being struck looking at that pattern. The difference between 89 and 91 is a mere fraction of a millisecond, but in baseball, those count. It means added margin for error. When you don't have great stuff or consistently precise command (as is the case with most of these current Twins' starters) you need that margin for error.
      I would suggest that velocity for a starter and a reliever are quite different, as it is well documented that starters moving to a bullpen role frequently add 2-3 mph to their fastball.

      If you agree, another look at the starters on your chart indicates NO significant correlation.

      Sam Deduno - 3.32 - 90.2
      Kevin Correia - 4.08 - 90.2
      Scott Diamond - 5.40 - 88.2
      Pedro Hernandez - 5.54 - 88.4
      P.J. Walters - 6.03 - 89.7
      Mike Pelfrey - 6.11 - 91.9
      Vance Worley - 7.21 - 89.5

      That being said, I certainly think it is better to be Gibson and throw 92-93 with movement than to be Correia and throw 90-91 with movement.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by TRex View Post
      I would suggest that velocity for a starter and a reliever are quite different, as it is well documented that starters moving to a bullpen role frequently add 2-3 mph to their fastball.
      And get better results.

      That's why starting pitchers who can work in the mid-90s for an entire game are such valued assets.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Wise One View Post
      The reportsMRI was negative. Do you have some inside information or just having pessimism?
      Proven innings eater was out two months. I guess that is the qualification you are calling innings eater. Below average era for the NL to boot.
      You are factually wrong on Lannan.

      Injuries to his leg, first significant time off in his career. Please check back on his career stats for his proven qualifications.

      Lannan's career ERA through 2012 is 4.01. The NL average ERA for SPs over Lannan's career time-frame (2007-12) is 4.23. His IP over that time ranks 27 overall, and counting his minor league innings over the last 5 years, he's averaged 188 IP/YR. with 32 games started per year.

      Regarding Meyer, why aren't you asking this of the OP and the Twins FO, as well? The MRI was negative, but the Twins are publicly expressing concern about the lack of improvement in his condition since the shutdown, and now the special trip to Minneapolis. That is certainly not the type of news developments that lead to positive thoughts.

      My comment was in regards to Meyer possibly facing surgery at some point if this is leading to something that hasn't yet shown on the MRI- It has been shown that shoulder injuries requiring surgery generally don't lead to more good outcomes over bad ones.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by TRex View Post
      I would suggest that velocity for a starter and a reliever are quite different, as it is well documented that starters moving to a bullpen role frequently add 2-3 mph to their fastball.

      If you agree, another look at the starters on your chart indicates NO significant correlation.

      Sam Deduno - 3.32 - 90.2
      Kevin Correia - 4.08 - 90.2
      Scott Diamond - 5.40 - 88.2
      Pedro Hernandez - 5.54 - 88.4
      P.J. Walters - 6.03 - 89.7
      Mike Pelfrey - 6.11 - 91.9
      Vance Worley - 7.21 - 89.5

      That being said, I certainly think it is better to be Gibson and throw 92-93 with movement than to be Correia and throw 90-91 with movement.
      the correlation might not be as significant with just the starters, but then again, our starters tend to throw at about the same speed, and you left Gibson off. That said, your comment that it is well documented that relievers can add a few ticks to their pitches plays into exactly what Nick was saying. What likely can mess up those stats is that reliever that comes in and lets all of his inherited runners to score (affecting the pitcher) while still getting his outs vs. a guy like Perkins whose job is to pitch one inning.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      I'm not overly impressed with a guy who spent most of his age 27 season at AAA, but if the Twins would have wanted him they could have signed him for less than the arby figure as a free agent. There was no reason to include him in the trade.
      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.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thegrin View Post
      I wish everyone would stop focusing on the speed of pitches. Location and baseball smarts are more important than mph. Gibson looks like he has a good off-speed out pitch. Let us hope he develops to become a Cy Young candidate, using smars & skills, instead of speed.
      Maybe, but a smarts, loccation + a big FB would be fantastic
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