I have no idea if commentators thought there was no way the 1991 World Series could see Game 6’s classic ending surpassed by an even better Game 7. I have no idea if anyone thought the final game of the season would be arguably the greatest game in baseball history. Whatever anyone thought, that’s exactly what was witnessed.
Jack Morris’ 10-inning shutout cemented his legacy as that year’s World Series MVP and likely propelled him to a Hall of Fame induction. Can any pitcher do the same for this year’s Minnesota Twins?
As there are a limited number of starting pitchers, I’m going to clarify the meaning of a “Jack Morris moment”: it can mean not just a dominant, shutdown start, but the ability to stop an opposing threat with multiple runners on base. Morris stranded multiple Braves in the third, fifth, and eighth innings of that Game 7, so that clutch element is a definitive qualification for a Morris moment.
Anyway, here are your candidates.
Despite a rocky final two months of the season, Berríos finished strong, allowing two or fewer runs in three of his four final starts, and pitching at least six innings in all four. Berríos has become the ace Twins fans have hoped he would become - though his August and September show there is room for improvement - and his 3.68 ERA and 1.40 WPA back that up. If any Twin is to put up a complete game, it’s Berríos, which makes him an easy candidate for a Morris moment.
The other Twins All-Star starting pitcher, Odorizzi bested Berríos in several statistical categories, including ERA (3.51), WPA (1.92), FIP (3.36 versus 3.85), HR/9 (0.91 versus 1.17), and strikeout percentage (27.1 percent versus 23.2 percent). Odorizzi has just as much a case, if not more, to start the first game of the ALDS, and having put up an All-Star-worthy season, Odorizzi is also more than capable of a clutch, dominant game.
Rogers proved a dominant closer in 2019, leading Twins pitchers by far with a 2.98 WPA and stumping hitters to the tune of a 2.61 ERA. Given Rogers’ lasting role as the closer, it’s no surprise he’s a pitcher whom the Twins have already called on, and will call on again, in key situations.
Romo put up good, not great, stats after his trade to Minnesota - 0.59 WPA and a respectable 3.18 ERA. But he makes it onto this list because like Morris, Romo is a long-time MLB veteran with an intense mound demeanor. Romo closed some games and set up Rogers in others; where he’ll be used in the playoffs, we can only guess.
From July 24 until September 28, spanning two months and 26 appearances, Duffey did not allow a run. His 2.50 ERA and 1.45 WPA confirm his newly-discovered dominance, and have made him a popular call from the bullpen. The Twins will likely continue to rely on Duffey in key moments in the playoffs, making him another prime option for a Morris moment.
I know, I’m preaching to the mustache-loving choir here, but hear me out. The newly-wed Dobnak put up 0.46 WPA in only nine games, ended the year with a 1.59 ERA, and gradually stretched his outings from long relief to opening bullpen games to full-length starter, ending the year with a six-inning, one-hit, one-unearned-run outing September 25 against Detroit. Dobnak is the dark horse for a Morris-like game, but he’s showing he has the stuff - and the ‘stache - to do it.
Of course, both Morris and Puckett performed their heroics in the World Series, and the 2019 Twins need to win two playoff rounds to get there. But as I said in the Puckett article, clutch moments come about no matter the playoff series. And as the 1991 World Series and Gene Larkin showed, it’s not only the stars who have the chance to become clutch heroes.
Which pitcher will provide us with a "Jack Morris" moment in 2019?
This poll is closed