clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Not spectacular but adequate pitching

New, 15 comments

A key to the Twins' success this season has been their unspectacular but remarkable consistency from the starting rotation.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Although I'm a huge baseball fan, I don't follow all that many baseball people on Twitter. I've got Hardball Talk for news and if I want more in-depth analysis on transactions, there's MLB Trade Rumors. This eliminates the need to follow most national beat writers and reporters, who sometimes emphasize rumors and being first more than being correct or offering analysis. Then I have a few Twins guys, because obviously. Beyond that, it's just a handful of people that I find interesting or regularly report on news I may care about.

One of those Twins guys is Edward Thoma from the Mankato Free Press, who quietly digs up interesting factoids throughout the season. One of those popped into my Twitter feed on Tuesday when he wrote about the Twins rotation being a consistent force throughout the entire season.* Although ERA is not the best way to evaluate pitchers, ultimately it is the end result from the process. Through the entire season, no regular starter has been dominant, but no one has been an absolute disaster, either. In descending order from innings pitched...

* Thoma's numbers on Tommy Milone appears to be slightly off from what I found on FanGraphs. Also it looks like he used Trevor May's overall season ERA instead of his starter ERA.

Pitcher ERA
Kyle Gibson 3.96
Mike Pelfrey 4.09
Phil Hughes 4.43
Tommy Milone 4.07
Ervin Santana 4.10
Trevor May 4.43
Tyler Duffey/Ricky Nolasco 4.06

Just for fun, Thoma chose to lump Duffey and Nolasco's starts together and interestingly came out with a similar number as everyone else in that list. In addition to the similar ERAs, every single starter has been worth anywhere between 0.9 and 2.2 fWAR this season. Yes, even Nolasco, whose poor ERA was the damage of allowing a ton of hits in spite of having a league average strikeout and walk rate while also giving up just a single home run in over 30 innings. (His bWAR, which is measured off ERA instead of FIP would tell a different story, though).

Looking at these numbers reminds me a bit of last year's Baltimore Orioles pitching staff. They too were assembled with pieces that wouldn't dazzle you in a one-game playoff, but was quite effective as a collective unit.

Pitchers ERA
Wei-Yin Chen 3.54
Chris Tillman 3.34
Kevin Gausman 3.57
Bud Norris 3.65
Miguel Gonzalez 3.21
Ubaldo Jimenez 4.73

With the exception of the Ubaldo Enigma there, that was some impressive consistency as well. It should be noted that even though their ERAs were all roughly half a run better than this year's Twins staff, Chen only posted 2.5 fWAR to lead the group (the Orioles benefited from some batted ball luck to post low BABIPs, including Jimenez). With a good start or two left in the season, there is a chance for Kyle Gibson to match that number for the Twins even if his ERA still falls a few tenths short of Chen.

Although we've been lamenting the lack of an ace in the rotation and the disappointment that Jose Berrios wasn't called up, the Twins have shown that you can get by with a collection of consistently decent pitchers. Remember, Hughes and Trevor May had the worst ERAs of the bunch and they were still averaging 3 runs every 6 innings, which we all know is the minimum qualification to earn a quality start. That's giving your team a chance to win night in and night out, and has been part of the reason why the Twins are still fighting for a playoff spot in the final week.