The Minnesota Twins have made it to the midseason point and are riding high with an AL best 20-10 record. We grade the pitchers who helped get them there.
The Minnesota Twins finished off the first half of their season with a 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians yesterday, putting them at a record of 20-10. That record ties them with the Oakland A’s for the best record in the American League and the second best record in all of baseball.
The team couldn’t have done it without their standout starting pitching. With that in mind, it’s time to give out grades to the starting pitchers who have made it all happen. In order to be graded, the starter needs to have pitched at least 5 innings for the Twins this season.
With that being the only rule, there are eight starting pitchers and long relievers for us to grade. That’s a lot to go through. Because of that, let’s jump right into it, beginning with the starting pitchers.
Minnesota Twins Starting Pitching Grades
*the order is decided by how they show up in Baseball Reference’s Stat Sheet, not by the grade received*
2020 Stats: 6 G, 6 GS, 36.2 IP, 4-0, 2.21 ERA, 0.709 WHIP, 40-7 K-BB, 1.2 WAR
No Twins pitcher has had a better season than Kenta Maeda has. The return for Brusdar Graterol from the Dodger has stepped up to become the Twins’ sorely-needed ace and has become one of the top pitchers in baseball.
He has the best record on the Twins’ staff, the perfect record, the most innings, the best BB/9 numbers, and has not had a bad start yet. Maeda has been everything the Twins have hoped for and more. Grade: A+
2020 Stats: 6 G, 6 GS, 30.1 IP, 2-3, 4.75 ERA (4.15 FIP), 1.385 WHIP, 33-14 K-BB, 0.0 WAR
Jose Berrios‘ season has been the opposite of what the Twins (and their fans) were hoping for. This was supposed to be the year Berrios took the next step into the ace the Twins wanted him to become, but instead he has taken a step back.
It’s not all bad though. His FIP indicates he’s been unlucky, and while his walks are up, his K/9 and velocity numbers are up to career highs. He hasn’t had a great season, but he looked really good in his last start, and all these positive signs (as well as his history) suggest a turnaround may be coming. Grade: C.
2020 Stats: 6 G, 6 GS, 30.1 IP, 5-1, 1.79 ERA, 1.022 WHIP, 16-7 K-BB, 1.1 WAR
Randy Dobnak has joined Maeda as surprise pitchers atop the rotation, as very few people expected them to dominate like this. Dobnak has allowed just six runs over thirty innings in 2020, averaging just one run per start. If your pitcher is doing that, your team will win, and the Twins have, winning 5 of Dobnak’s starts.
Dobnak is everywhere on the MLB leaderboard. He’s 6th in ERA, tied for first in wins, and twentieth in WHIP. He’s been very dominant in 2020, without excellent strikeout numbers by limiting runs. He’s earned a great grade for his work. Grade: A.
2020 Stats: 3 G, 3 GS, 10.0 IP, 0-1, 8.10 ERA (6.13 FIP), 1.600 WHIP, 9-2 K-BB, -0.3 WAR
People like to point fingers at Berrios as the Twins starter that is struggling the most, but no pitcher has had a worse go of it than Jake Odorizzi. Odorizzi has almost as many IL stints (2) as games he’s pitched in (3), and hasn’t been very effective in those games either.
Odorizzi has allowed 9 runs in 10 innings, and while strikeout-walk numbers look good, he simply has struggled to get outs and keep the ball in the ballpark. The Injuries have played their part, but Odo’s ineffectiveness has all been on him. Grade: D-.
2020 Stats: 2 G, 2 GS, 7.2 IP, 1-1, 4.70 ERA, 1.304 WHIP, 3-4 K-BB, 0.0 WAR
Rich Hill was supposed to be brought in as a strong extra starter with playoff experience that could hold down a rotation spot if he could stay healthy. Well, he hasn’t stayed healthy, and he hasn’t held a spot down.
His first start was five shutout innings, where he allowed just two hits, and struck out two. His second went just 2.2 innings and he gave up four runs and walked three times as many batters as he struck out. One of his starts was very good, and one was awful, but only two starts has made Hill a disappointment as a Minnesota Twin so far. Grade: C.
2020 Stats: 1 G, 1 GS, 5 IP, 1-0, 3.60 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 4-2 K-BB, 0.1 WAR
Though he has been out since he made this start, Homer Bailey had a very solid first start, going five innings, striking out four, and allowing just two runs on two walks and four hits. He showed he’d be a reliable arm…then got hurt.
Bailey is out until September 13th at the earliest, and likely won’t return until after that. With Michael Pineda returning soon and the rotation getting healthier, he may not have a spot when he does get back. That said, he still earns a decent grade for that one start. Grade: B-.
Minnesota Twins Long Reliever Grades:
These two pitchers are both looked at as potential starters or guys who would come in after an opener, so instead of putting them with the bullpen, they get added here where there future most likely lies.
2020 Stats: 6 G, 1 GS, 14.2 IP, 0-1, 6.14 ERA, 1.900 WHIP, 9-9 K-BB, -0.2 WAR
The Twins’ top left-handed pitching prospect has had a very tough go of it in his second big league season. Lewis Thorpe‘s stuff looked great last year (despite mediocre stats), but he hasn’t been able to consistently get outs, walking more batters than all of the Twins starters (except Berrios).
He’s still got good potential, and his 2019 FIP and K/9 numbers suggest he’s still got what it takes to be a good pitcher, but he was sent down for a reason and 2020 has really not been his year. We hope he’ll turn it around. Grade: F.
2020 Stats: 5 G, 5 GS, 13.2 IP, 2-0, 6.59 ERA (4.23 FIP), 1.463 WHIP, 13-4 K-BB, -0.3 WAR
No Minnesota Twins pitcher is a better illustration of why ERA isn’t everything than Devin Smeltzer. In Smeltzer’s first appearance of the year, he gave up five runs on six hits in two innings. In the 11.2 innings since then Smeltzer has given up 5 runs on ten hits, which is a little more solid (good for a 3.86 ERA).
He is still just 24, so he’s still growing as a pitcher. Regardless of his ERA, his 13-4 K-BB is very good and 8.6 K/9 is an improvement over last year. Smeltzer is having a much better year than his stats show. Grade: B-.