Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Contemplating Kyle Gibson

Kyle Gibson sits between Jorge Polanco and Brian Dozier
between innings Tuesday in Detroit. He allowed one
run in eight innings Tuesday, one of his best outings of 2016.
When a team is apparently headed to 100 losses, there is generally no shortage of reasons for the failure. For the 2016 Minnesota Twins, one of the biggest reasons is Kyle Gibson.

Gibson in 2015 led the team in starts, innings pitched, quality starts and strikeouts. He tied for the team lead in both wins and losses. And, notably, the big right-hander led the entire team, pitchers and position players, in WAR (wins above replacement) as calculated by Baseball Reference. He was the one constant in a constantly shuffled rotation.

This year he has regressed. Tuesday's strong start was only his second quality start since July and his eighth of the season (he had 17 last year). His strikeout rate, which had improved rather sharply in 2015 as he made better use of a changeup, has receded.

Gibson has always impressed the old-school scouts more than he has the sabermetricians, and there is a very good chance that the incoming management will be more inclined to rely on his track record than on his potential. Since he turns 29 next month, that would be sensible. When we hear talk of a pending pitching staff shakeup, Gibson is probably prominent among those to be shaken.

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