Right here, this was the line in the sand during the 2017 season. For most of the season, there was this clear drop off from the top two starters, Santana and Berrios, to the rest of the bunch. Kyle Gibson was able to begin to close that gap a bit in the second half of the season. The Twins will be hoping that he will continue to do that and be the pitcher they saw as the team invested a first round draft pick in him back in 2009.
Over the entire season, Gibson was able to complete 158 innings but held a less than impressive 5.07 ERA. It was August 22nd where all of a sudden Gibson seemed to flip a switch. Gibson would pitch eight more games from then to the end of the season. Those starts totalled 49.1 innings, a 2.92 ERA, and a Twins win in all eight of those starts.
As written about by Nick Pollack at FanGraphs, in those last eight starts Gibson seemed to make a change in his approach. Most notably Gibson reduced the frequency in which he threw his curveball and increased throwing his slider. He even began using his slider in a specific way in order to increase its value. Pollack says his slider was exclusively thrown “down and to the glove side” of all batters.
The trade for Odorizzi lessens the need for Gibson to continue his final 8 game stretch over the whole of 2018. It will be crucial for Gibson to pitch well to begin the season. If he has truly figured something out, Gibson will be quite the asset as a potential fourth starter come mid-season.