Monday, June 17, 2013

The Curious Case of Kyle Gibson

The middle of June has come and gone and there is no sign of Kyle Gibson in the Twin Cities.

Teams like the Rays and the Mets are calling up top prospects like Wil Myers and Zack Wheeler because the deadline has passed for players to qualify for Super Two status. This means the Rays and Mets can control these high level players for a big chunk of the next decade.

Gibson has a different story than some other players. The former first round pick entered the Twins system with three years of college experience. This allowed him to move through the organization at a fast pace in 2010. Tommy John surgery was the only thing that could slow him down on his way to the major leagues.

Now Gibson has worked his way back to the form he showed before his injury. Over his last 10 games, he has a 6-2 record with a 2.89 ERA. In 65.1 innings pitched, he has 54 strikeouts and 20 walks. He also has two complete game shutouts during that stretch and that's more than he's had in any professional season.

It sure seems like Gibson is ready so what's the hold-up.

At the beginning of June, the reasoning used by Twins general manager Terry Ryan was the team was looking for more "consistency." In his three starts since that interview, Gibson has pitched at least six innings and he has given up three earned runs or less while striking out a total of 14 batters. By looking back even further, Gibson hasn't been pulled from a game before the sixth inning since the middle of May.

The consistency is there but Gibson isn't getting the call.

One of the problems for Gibson is the improved performance of the Twins starting rotation. In the month of May, the Twins staff had the third worst ERA (5.06) in all of baseball. They ranked last in strikeouts and opponents had a higher batting average against the Twins than any other team. This lead to some changes like Deduno's call up and Vance Worley's demotion.

Since the calendar switched to June, the Twins pitching numbers have been greatly improved. Minnesota ranks seventh in all of baseball for team ERA this month. The club's WHIP and hits allowed are right in the middle of the pack. 

During the team's last 18 games, the team has gone 11-7 and the starters have helped to keep the team in games. So far in the month of June, here is what the starting rotation has done:
1. Sam Deduno (3 Starts): 2.00 ERA, 18 IP, 1.28 WHIP
2. PJ Walters (3 Starts): 2.41 ERA, 18.2 IP, 1.55 WHIP
3. Kevin Correia (3 Starts): 4.00 ERA, 18 IP, 1.50 WHIP
4. Scott Diamond (3 Starts): 5.51 ERA, 16.1 IP, 1.47 WHIP
5. Mike Pelfrey (2 Starts): 4.05 ERA, 13.1 IP, 1.05 WHIP 

The Twins have said that Gibson will be on an innings limit and it is expected to be in the range of 130-140 innings. He currently sits at 85.2 innings and that means his next start will likely push him over the 90 innings mark. This would leave him with less than 50 available innings at the big league level this season. 

All of the Twins moves this season should be focused on the future. It might have been good for Gibson to get some more experience at the Triple-A level and his performance this spring proved that he needed to work on some things in the minors. It is just tough to know how much longer the Twins can wait to call him up.

As the starters continue to pitch well, Gibson gets one step closer to reaching his innings limit with each start in Rochester. If the Twins don't call him up before his limit, the club will be missing out on a opportunity for him to gain some big league experience. Rookies can have some ups and downs and it would be nice to get some of those out of the way in 2013. 

Gibson is part of the plan for the future but it's hard to see what the club's plan is for the present. The 25-year old has been through a lot in his professional career and it's time to take the training wheels off and see if he can make it ride at the big league level.


Anonymous said...

Uh -

In his last 4 starts, Gibson has pitched a total of 25 innings, giving up 13 runs and 12 earned runs. That is an ERA of 4.32 against AAA hitters. Ten of those runs were in two starts. That is not consistency.

NoDak Twins Fan said...

His last 10 games his ERA is 2.89

Anonymous said...

"His last 10 games his ERA is 2.89"

He has pitched 26 scoreless innings in 3 starts during that stretch. In the remaining 7 games his ERA 4.84 over 39 innings in the remaining games. You are calling that "consistency"?