Minnesota Twins: Kyle Gibson’s internal battle increases need for third starter

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 19: Kyle Gibson #44 of the Minnesota Twins walks back to the dugout after pitching against the Boston Red Sox during the second inning of the game on June 19, 2019 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 19: Kyle Gibson #44 of the Minnesota Twins walks back to the dugout after pitching against the Boston Red Sox during the second inning of the game on June 19, 2019 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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The Minnesota Twins starter battled through another rough start, which makes upgrading the rotation a necessity at the deadline.

When it comes to the Minnesota Twins postseason chances, a lot of focus has been pinned on improving the Twins bullpen. While everyone not named Taylor Rogers has had their share of ups and downs this season, the argument could be made that the need for another starting pitcher is right up there following the performance of Friday night’s starter Kyle Gibson.

The Twins’ veteran cruised through three innings against the Cleveland Indians on Friday night and it showed what he can do when he is on his game. Although he can be an effective pitcher at times, the downside of Gibson’s game is when he gets into his own head and, in the words of the Twins, battles.

When Gibson starts to battle, watching a Twins game can be an excruciating chore. With long stares into home plate, it’s almost like Gibson is having a no-holds-barred brawl inside his head with what pitch to throw, when to throw it and where it should be located. The result is Gibson transforming into a human tee that contributes to his own demise.

On Friday night, Gibson showed the perfect example of this after allowing a home run to Cleveland’s Carlos Santana. While the first baseman’s blast tied the game at 1-1, Gibson immediately started making adjustments that didn’t need to be made. With every batter seemingly riding Gibson to a 3-2 count, Gibson would put two men on and cough up a two-RBI single to Roberto Perez to put the Twins in a 3-1 hole.

The Twins would come back and win the game 5-3, but you can also blame Gibson’s penchant of getting inside his own head. You can see it in Gibson’s pre-game routine where he has to do everything under the sun from wearing an oven mitt and chucking a giant ball at a wall and perhaps fighting a live bear behind the scenes (I’m assuming T.C. Bear would be available for such a task.)

In fact, Gibson’s routine is so ingrained in his head that he had to do it just to pitch an inning in the Twins 18-inning loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on June 27. Rituals are common in baseball and Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer has a long noted routine that has come with him since his debut in 2012. The difference here is that Bauer is actually good and Gibson is a middle of the line pitcher that gets in his own way.

In the following half-inning, fellow Indians starter Mike Clevinger would show Gibson how to get out of a jam after allowing a single to Luis Arraez and a double to Miguel Sano. With Ehire Adrianza, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler following, Clevinger would get out of the inning by remaining calm, throwing strikes and sending the Twins back to the dugout empty-handed.

With Gibson so hot and cold, it makes the need to acquire a starting pitcher at the deadline an even bigger task for the Minnesota Twins. Names like Madison Bumgarner and Marcus Stroman have been tossed around, but even sniffing around Detroit’s Matthew Boyd or New York’s Zack Wheeler would be an upgrade over the mercurial Gibson.

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The Twins have been in Gibson’s corner a long time, but at some point, they have to realize this just isn’t working.

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