Minnesota Twins Offseason Weekly Reaction: Breakout and Bounce Back Projections
Another close poll result. Except this one is more wide-spread than anticipated. There were a couple that voted for “other” and mentioned Jose Berrios. One of those was to vote for Berrios was fellow Puckett’s Pond writer Jamie Cameron, who also voted for J.T. Chargois and Nick Burdi. Baseball fan Brad Jerome added a single vote for Tommy Milone. Had Berrios been one of the three to vote for, he very likely would sway the results. The focus, however, remains on the three names in the poll.
Kyle Gibson pitched his best season by far in 2015. Across the board, he had career bests in several statistical categories. Gibson registered his lowest ERA along with career bests in strikeouts, innings pitched, WHIP, H9 and SO9. During the month of May his ERA was as low as 2.61. In 2014, Gibson made a quality start in 48 percent of his starts. Last season, the number increased to 53 percent. Watching Gibson pitch several times throughout the year, it was apparent he was more confident. That confidence helped him pitch deeper into games.
After returning from an 80 game suspension, Ervin Santana had mixed results. Had Santana pitched a full season he would have put of career average numbers. However, do not overlook what he did toward the end of the season. From Aug. 30 on, Santana pitched at his best. His last seven starts he had a 5-1 record and a 1.62 ERA. Of those seven starts, Santana pitched seven innings six times and eight innings once. Simply put, he was red hot and was by far the Twins best pitcher.
A starter turned reliever, Trevor May had a productive 2015. Once Santana returned from his suspension, May began pitching out of the bullpen. The move worked so well that he continued to pitch in relief the rest of 2015. His SO/BB rate was higher and his opponent batting average was lower. Coming into 2016, May says he will be competing for a role in the rotation. It will be up to Paul Molitor to decide if he wants May to return to the bullpen. A late inning role seems probable at this point.
My Pick: Kyle Gibson
ZiPS projects Gibson as the second best pitcher for the Twins in 2016. ESPN picked Tyler Duffey as the breakout pitcher in 2016 for the Twins. It is surprising to see the support for Santana after how many fans trash talked him last season. Here I disagree with ESPN and the poll results.
Gibson has quite frankly been overlooked by many over the last two years. Last season, he showed that he is an effective ground-ball pitcher. Even though ZiPS projects Gibson as the second best starter, a closer look reveals that the projections are almost identical to last season. I predict Gibson will continue to gain confidence. Barring an injury, I see Gibson as the number one starter on the Twins staff. Last season, he was the Twins best player in terms of WAR. Look for Gibson to breakout in 2016.
Next: Bounce Back Player