Saturday, May 28, 2016

Contemplating Pat Dean

Pat Dean 's strikeout
rate in the minors was
5.3 per nine innings.
He has 20 Ks in 21
innings so far with
the Twins.
Pat Dean made his second start for the Twins on Friday night in Seattle and handcuffed the Mariners for his first major league W -- seven innings, four hits, two runs, no walks, eight strikeouts. One of those runs was the result of a leadoff "triple" that Danny Santana really should have corralled.

Last Saturday, Dean went six innings against Toronto, allowing two runs in a no-decision that the Twins ultimately won. Add in two relief outings, and he has a 3.43 ERA in 21 innings.

So who is Pat Dean, and what should we reasonably expect from him?

Lefty, 26 years old, third-round draft pick in 2010, worked his way up the minor league ladder without any real success until last season, when he put up a 2.82 ERA in 179 innings at Triple A. Dick Bremer last night was calling it a breakthrough season, but the underlying stats really didn't change for him. He still had a poor strikeout rate, still had a very good walk rate. He was, presumably, either lucky or had a better defense behind him, or both.

He is, to slap a label on him, a finesse lefty, and we've seen this act a few times before: Scott Diamond, Andrew Albers, Tommy Milone. They had some success when they located their mediocre fastballs exceptionally well, and failed when they didn't. They have very little margin of error, and that more often than not results in brief careers.

Dean right now has an opportunity and is doing something good with it. The Greg McMichael Rule again: If you get outs, they'll find a role for you. Right now that role is starting rotation, but that could change really fast.

Kyle Gibson had a rehab start the other day in Fort Myers (with Terry Ryan in attendance), and it's possible that he'll return as soon as this week. Who would Gibson dislodge from the rotation? There's a dilemma. The three veterans with fat contracts (Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes) aren't doing well, and the two young guys with flexible roster status (Dean and Tyler Duffey) are getting outs and working innings.

Bottom line: Dean can't afford a slip up, and there's reason to expect that he will, eventually, slip up.

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