The Minnesota Twins enter this week 8-8, good enough for first place in a slow-starting American League Central. Their record might not indicate it, but this team looks good, and their four game win streak and sweep of the reigning division champs is evidence of that.
The team has so far been carried by an unlikely hero: the starting rotation. Fans and media alike maligned the front office for not making enough big moves and letting the rotation just be average, but so far it’s been a rousing success.
The five man group of Dylan Bundy, Joe Ryan, Chris Archer, Bailey Ober, and Chris Paddack has gotten off to a good start and figures to be even better when Sonny Gray returns from the injured list. With that in mind, I wanted to dive into the beginning of the season for each of these guys (Gray excluded) and go over whether it seems to be legit.
We buy or sell the hot start for each member of the Minnesota Twins’ starting rotation.
I chose whether to buy or sell based off of career numbers, advanced statistics, pitches, and opponents to try and determine if this start is real or if it’s too early to celebrate. Let’s get into it, starting with Joe Ryan.
Minnesota Twins Starter No. 1: Joe Ryan
Joe Ryan has picked up right where he left off in 2021, starting the year off with a 1.69 ERA, 0.875 WHIP, and a 16-5 K-BB ratio. He’s been fantastic, but there appears to be some regression incoming for the young starter.
His fastball is a tick faster, but his advanced numbers indicate he’s been a little more wild, leading to more walks and a higher FIP (3.84). Batters are also swinging against him a lot better as well, so I’d expect some regression towards a very good pitcher that’s not quite this good. Verdict: Selling
Minnesota Twins Starter No. 2: Bailey Ober
Bailey Ober, on the other hand, has numbers that are going to dip as well, but should dip a little less than Ryan’s will. His velocity is up and his slider is missing a ton of bats. Advanced stats see huge improvements made from last year.
He obviously won’t finish the year with a 2.81 ERA, but he could definitely finish the year with a sub-3.50 ERA and his strikeout rate will get even better as the year goes on. He’s ready to show the improvement is real. Verdict: Buying.
Minnesota Twins Starter No. 3: Dylan Bundy
Dylan Bundy has been the Twins’ best pitcher by far this year, sporting a 0.59 ERA (1.72 FIP), a 0.717 WHIP, and a career-low 0.6 BB/9. Obviously he can’t continue that level of success, but do his advanced stats suggest he can keep it up?
The short answer? Yes. Bundy is in the 80th percentile or higher in xwOBA, xERA, xSLG, BB%, and Chase Rate. He’s throwing his sinker less, slider and changeup more, and he’s hitting the zone a whole lot more. Similar to Ober, he’ll regress a little bit, but the soft-throwing righty may be in for a real bounceback season. Verdict: Buying.
Minnesota Twins Starter No. 4: Chris Paddack
Chris Paddack has started off the season well analytically, posting a 1.86 FIP, not allowing a walk, and his pitches have Baseball Savant loving him. So how does a guy with such good peripheral numbers post such a bad ERA?
Well for starters, he’s giving up 11.0 H/9. That will come back to Earth. His 7.0 K/9 mark is way too low for a starter who is consistently throwing gas and rarely missing the zone. He might not be an ace, but he’ll do better. Verdict: Selling.
Minnesota Twins Starter No. 5: Chris Archer
Chris Archer has a 3.18 ERA and his fastball is hitting 93.1 MPH. So why does it feel like he’s not as good as he’s playing? Well he’s actually not. His BB/9 rate is a career-high 4.8 and his K/9 rate is a career-low is 7.9.
He ranks in the bottom 40 percentile of just about every analytic category and he’s had to be bailed out in two of his starts. It’s hard to see Archer holding these numbers up unless something changes. Verdict: Selling.