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Who is John Gant

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That pun deserves at least a little mileage

St Louis Cardinals v San Francisco Giants Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The one MLB-level player the Twins acquired at the trade deadline was pitcher John Gant, from Saint Louis. Gant is part of the return for JA Happ, and the fact the Twins got anything at all in return is shocking.

That said, this was largely a trade of struggling pitchers. I won’t rehash Happ’s struggles, readers here are all-too-familiar with them, but if there was one thing he had provided, it was a reliable source of innings.

Gant, on the other hand, is probably better added to a bullpen. Saint Louis did use him in both a starting and relief role this season, as well as throughout his career. However, as one commenter over at VEB told me, “under no circumstances should John Gant start.” Take that with a grain of salt, the guy has been successful in the past, but clearly Cardinals fans were fed up with his performance in the rotation—and they have reason to be.

At his best, Gant is still a wild pitcher, but strikes out a fair number of guys, and keeps the ball on the ground. There is a bit of similarity in his batted ball profile to Randy Dobnak, truthfully. You know, since the Twins “fixed” Dobnak. The Cardinals, like Cleveland, though seem to have exhausted the limits of their magical pitching factory, so have misused him this season. Our friends at VEB seem to think he is very miscast as a starter, and the Cardinals apparently thought that J.A. Happ was an upgrade, so perhaps so. Gant hadn’t started since 2018. While he wasn’t bad in that role at the time, as so often happens, a move into the bullpen bumped all his peripheral stats. In small-sample weirdness 2020, he posted a 2.40 ERA and a 2.19 FIP—but let Alex Colome tell you what those numbers mean.

Per Do-Hyoung Park, Gant will slot into a bullpen role for the Twins, hopefully allowing him to shine with lower exposure. Certainly its a risk worth taking, we knew what Happ was, there is a chance that Gant shows something though. If he happens to, he still has a season of arbitration eligiblity. The Twins often don’t pick up the last year of a reliever’s control, but it would be their choice.