Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sam Deduno: New and Improved?

Earlier this week, the Dominican Republic took home their first championship in the World Baseball Classic. Japan won the title in the first two years of the tournament but this year it was all about the Dominicans. They went undefeated through all of the rounds and ended up celebrating on the field in San Francisco.

One of the breakout stars for the Dominican was a current member of the Twins organization. Sam Deduno made three starts for his country and his numbers look great. He had a 2-0 record with a 0.69 ERA and 17 strikeouts over 13 innings. He pitched five shutout innings in the championship game to help lead his team to the top.

Deduno started 15 games for the Twins at the end of last year and there were some ups and downs along the way. Does his breakout performance in the WBC give him a better chance to make the team's starting rotation? Is this a new and improved Deduno?

His overall numbers from the WBC look great on paper but there were plenty of rough points for the Dominican right-hander. He had five walks in the tournament and a 1.23 WHIP. There were plenty of times where he would fall behind batters 3-0 before finding some way to wriggle out of the jam.

The first inning of his match-up with the United States was a perfect example. With one out in the inning, Brandon Phillips would single to start the action. Ryan Braun would strikeout to be the second out of the frame. Joe Mauer singled to add to the threat. Now there were runners at first and second with two outs.

After Deduno fell behind 2-0, Giancarlo Stanton would single to load the bases. Five pitches later, Eric Hosmer had drawn a walk and the first run of the game was scored by the US. The bases were still loaded. The next batter was Adam Jones and he quickly found himself ahead in the count 3-0. Deduno found a way out of the sticky situation as he struck out Jones on the next three pitches.

This is the Deduno that Twins fans saw a lot of in 2012. There were flashes of brilliance but there were also plenty of head shaking. Deduno pitched six innings or more in half of his starts. His ERA got as low as 2.48 and it stayed under 4.00 until his last two starts. When he kept the ball in the park, he had found success even while averaging over 3.5 walks per outing.

Unfortunately, there were multiple bad performances mixed in with the good. In nine of his 15 starts, he gave up a home run. He also had two multi-home run games and two games where he gave up seven earned runs. With how many hits and walks he gave up, it didn't make sense for him to find as much success as he did in his early appearances.

Minnesota is going to have a couple of spots at the back end of their rotation to start the season. Scott Diamond will begin the year on the disabled list and that frees up a spot for someone like Deduno. One of the biggest obstacles for him might be the fact that he isn't on the team's 40-man roster. Pitchers like Liam Hendriks and Cole DeVries might have the upper hand to win a rotation spot.

There are plenty of injury concerns with the core of pitchers the Twins have compiled for the coming year. This means that Deduno will most likely get another shot at the big leagues with the Twins. This could be a good thing or a bad thing so only time will tell if he can build off of his WBC performance.

The Deduno that showed up in the WBC might have seemed like he was new and improved but it was more of the same player if a person looks beyond the numbers. In small doses, he can look dominant. There is also the Deduno that gets into trouble with walks and shaky control.

The Twins would love a new and improved Deduno but don't count on him being the savior of the starting rotation. No matter what he looked like in the World Baseball Classic...

1 comment:

TT said...

You are on the money about Deduno. He did his high wire act. As long as he stays on the wire, it looks spectacular. The problem is that when he falls off its a disaster.

He might win the fifth rotation spot to start and then move to the bullpen when Diamond is ready. With Swarzak on the DL, they will need a long reliever. Using Deduno in that role would allow the younger guys to stay stretched out as a backup starters at AAA.

I don't think the 40 player roster will be an issue. The Twins are likely going to open spots when they make their final spring training cuts.