Minnesota Twins: Trevor May Showing Promise


I attended the home opener a week ago Monday, despite feelings of frustration I wasn’t shy about voicing, I came away with one other big takeaway, Trevor May was hard done by. At the end of his first start May finished having given up 5 ER in 5.1 innings. In spite of this, May pitched well, pounding the zone and establishing his fast ball. With the exception of an orbit bound Kendrys Morales home run (remember when the Twins paid a few million dollars for him NOT to do that?), the Royals didn’t hit a lot of balls very hard against him.

May had an excellent follow up start against Cleveland, giving up 1 ER in 6 innings of work in what was the best outing of his young career. While the sample size is incredibly small, some of the early numbers suggest May, if given the opportunity, could have a significantly better year than his rookie campaign.

May’s most notable area of improvement has been his control. Through 45 innings of work in 2014, May walked 22, good for a BB% of 10.3%, well above the MLB average of 7.6%. In 11.1 innings in 2015 he has walked just a single batter. Despite the small sample this is an encouraging sign for a prospect that has always been deemed more of a thrower than a pitcher and has struggled with control issues dating back to his minor league days with the Phillies.

May’s early season ratio numbers have also seen some interesting shifts. There seems to have been an emphasis placed on him establishing his fastball, which he is throwing just under 70% of the time, compared to just 60% in 2014. He has also reduced his reliance on his weaker slider, throwing it just 3.5% of the time, compared to 10.5% in 2014. Even within May’s greater propensity toward his fastball there is a greater variance on show. In 2014 he threw approximately 55% four seem fastballs to just 5% two seem. In 2015 that has shifted to a more balanced 49% (four seem) and 19% (two seem). This variance has led to an increased ability for May to generate ground balls, improving from a rate of 35% in 2014 to 42% in 2015.

One wonders what the reasons for these altered pitching ratios are. Perhaps they are due to the influence of new Twins pitching coach Neil Allen? Whatever the reason, May’s early returns on a young 2015 season have been promising, both statistically and passing the eye test. With May joining the Twins rotation on the heels of some Ricky Nolasco arm trouble I wondered the extent to which the Twins would give him an opportunity with the major league club. I posed the question to Pioneer Press Twins beat writer Mike Berardino:

While it is evident that both Nolasco and May’s next outings are significant it could end up being the performance of Mike Pelfrey which dictates May’s big league leash. Pelfrey looked poor in his 2015 debut against the White Sox, while looking much improved, albeit erratic and inefficient, against Cleveland in his second go around.

One thing remains clear. Twins fans are rooting for May. It would be meaningful for the fan base after an inconsistent start for the Twins to be able to trot out a consistent back of the rotation starter who is clearly transitioning from promise to performance.

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