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When Will Gibson Get a Chance?

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ID:	4099Mike Berardino, the excellent new beat writer for the Pioneer Press, linked to a new story on Wednesday with an amusing teaser: "Attention Gibsonites: Kyle Gibson takes a step back at Rochester."

Gibsonites. I like it. And it’s a label I’ll proudly wear because, from my view, it seems obvious that Gibson should be on the major-league roster by now.

Yes, it's true. The right-hander had a poor outing on Wednesday. The Twins are of course no strangers to those. In his worst start of the season, Gibson lasted only three-plus innings, coughing up four runs on seven hits. On the same day, Mike Pelfrey turned in yet another unimpressive effort for the Twins. Along with Vance Worley and Pedro Hernandez, Pelfrey has been a mess, helping to saddle Minnesota's starting corps with the second-worst ERA in the major leagues. Worley owns the highest opponents’ batting average in the game at .379 and Pelfrey ranks fourth at .339. Hernandez has allowed a 1.172 OPS against right-handed hitters, demonstrating why he doesn’t belong in an MLB rotation.

Unlike those three struggling starters, Gibson has found success more often than not this year. He hurled a complete game shutout prior to Wednesday's dud, and his overall numbers -- 3.92 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 38/12 K/BB ratio in 43 2/3 innings -- are perfectly solid. One could say he's been inconsistent, but look at what we're comparing him to. The Twins should feel compelled to shake things up in their rotation at this point because the passive approach isn't working.

Even looking beyond the potential for improved results, there is the matter of Gibson's development, which should rank as a high priority at this point. He was considered nearly big-league ready before he suffered his injury, and he's now 20 months removed from surgery. In late April, Terry Ryan declared the 25-year-old pitching prospect to be “100 percent.”

“There’s no question – his arm, delivery, his mechanics. Everything is in good order, which is encouraging,” said the general manager.

So… what’s the hold-up? The Twins set a 130-150 inning cap for Gibson this year in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, and he’s already closing in on 50 frames at Triple-A. How many more of his limited innings will be used up facing minor-league hitters, whom he’s proven capable of handling in spite of a couple clunky outings, when he could be gaining valuable MLB experience?

It’s a bit of a baffling situation when you consider that standing in Gibson’s way are some of the most hittable pitchers in the major leagues. Even if he struggles to adapt, you’d be hard-pressed to argue that the former first-round pick would be a downgrade from any member of the rotation not named Scott Diamond or Kevin Correia.
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