Minnesota Twins 2016 Opening Day Starter: Case for Kyle Gibson
By Daniel Phyle
Who should start for the Minnesota Twins on Opening Day? Here is the argument for Kyle Gibson.
Minnesota Twins pitchers and catchers have officially reported for 2016 Spring Training. The Twins are lacking a true bonafide ace, and are begging for someone to take the reigns and run with it. While the top of the rotation has solid talent, it seems Ervin Santana, Phil Hughes, and Kyle Gibson are a group of solid number twos. Berrios could be the long-term answer, but at only 21 years old, he will take time to become that #1. Before any innings are pitched in spring training, the case for Gibby to be the Opening Day starter is stronger than may meet the eye.
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Kyle Gibson now has two full seasons under his belt as a major league starter, and improved nicely from 2014 through 2015. Gibby looks poised to take another step forward in 2016 with a spot in the rotation all but guaranteed.
While Gibson is not making the money of a Santana or a Hughes, he still has the ability to take over the top of the rotation. He is not overpowering by any means, but he has the size and skillset. He has a five pitch arsenal: 4-seam fastball, 2-seam fastball, change-up, slider, and curveball. Gibby has not yet mastered all five, but he will continue to work with pitching coach, Neil Allen, to use all of them effectively.
With an 11-11 record in 2015, Gibson pitched better than his record shows. He led Twins’ starters in innings pitched, strikeouts, and most importantly, quality starts. He dropped his ERA from 4.47 in 2014 to 3.84 in 2015. He does a relatively good job in keeping the ball in the ballpark and was consistent all season, taking the mound every fifth day.
Where Gibson struggles is with his command. As the saying goes, “Walks will Haunt.” It was the walks in 2015 that held Gibson back from being an absolute stud. If his command improves, all of his stats will improve as well and he can solidify himself as the ace of the staff.
While it remains to be seen how the Twins pitching staff will shake out in 2016, there is no
doubt that Terry Ryan and Paul Molitor will take a long look at Kyle Gibson to start on April 4th against the Baltimore Orioles.
*Statistics from Baseball Reference and FanGraphs