Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Time To Change The Pitching Philosophy

This kind of a more negative post in spite of the great Twins comeback on Tuesday.

For those wondering why the Twins can not beat the Yankees, or win a postseason game for that matter, the answer is simple: The Twins send out pitchers who "pitch to contact". Sure, Ill give you the fact the offense could do more than put up 3-4 runs per game. But when you play the Yankees, you are going up against some of the games best pitchers. And you are playing in a playoff like atmosphere regardless of what month you play them. So one has to ask the question, if you want to beat the Yankees and get past the first round, are you willing to bring in and develop pitchers who prefer the strikeout over a ground ball?

Under Ron Gardenhire, the Twins have won just 19 out of 74 games against the Yankees (Including the postseason). In the Bronx, they have won 7 out of 36 games (including Tuesday's game). Four of those Bronx wins were started by Johan Santana (Two playoff wins in '03 and '04, and two regular season wins in '05 and '07), a strikeout pitcher. The other three were started by Scott Baker (2007), a flyball pitcher, Nick Blackburn (2010), a groundball pitcher, and Brian Duensing who is a mix between groundball and flyball pitcher (All you hear on him is he pitches to contact!). Otherwise, the Twins have been pounded in the Bronx and in their home park (Metrodome or Target Field) by whoever takes the hill. The Yankees have always fielded veteran teams with great hitters who live on contact pitchers. It's just how they roll...

The more overwhelming stat is the fact the Twins have just won two postseason games since 2003. Both, as before mentioned, were against the Yankees and via Johan Santana. And Santana's game 1 ALDS start was the last time the Twins shook hands on the field at game's end. Since 2006, the following pitchers have taken the hill in postseason games for the Twins: Santana, Boof Bonser, Brad Radke, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn, Carl Pavano, and Francisco Liriano. All but Santana and Liriano fall in the contact category and those two pitchers showed they could handle the Yankees (Liriano was dominating through 5 innings in last year's postseason, but had some bad breaks that cost him in the 6th).

My point here is that it has time where the Twins should consider changing their philosophy in the minors, and/or bring in some pitchers (both starters and relievers), that pitch to the strikeout. And the Twins two best starting pitching prospects (Kyle Gibson and Alex Wimmers), fit the pitch to contact category. Can't we take somebody who has swing and miss stuff? Don't get me wrong, Gardy and Rick Anderson have worked miracles in getting the Twins to the postseason all these years, with the pitchers they have been given. But the contact pitchers will only take you so far. At some point you have to have that pitcher with nasty stuff that can hold a playoff caliber lineup down, such as the Yankees, to keep your team in the game. Otherwise, you can just count on the Twins to continue their struggles against the Yankees, and go one and done in the postseason.

1 comment:

Scruffy Rube said...

I agree with you, a pitcher with plus stuff who misses bats would help us get past the Yankees; but I've always thought that those pitchers were the ones who commanded the most expensive contracts and therefore can't be kept by the team long term.

If you can't sign free agents (like CC) or trade for them (as with the missed-deal for Cliff Lee last year) or draft them because of agent signing demands (like Mark Prior) I think you just hope to catch lightning in a bottle. Maybe we could train it up...but it seems to be a gift that few are given, and can rarely be taught.

Still, we need it, so if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go stand in a lightning storm with a bottle over my head.