Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Berrios Question and the Berrios Protocol

Minor league news item:

The Twins current 25-man roster has just three starters: Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson and Phil Hughes. Hector Santiago, who was expected back from his grandmother's funeral for a bullpen session on Monday, remains officially on the bereavement list; he figures to be activated for Wednesday's start, with (probably) Buddy Boshers returned to Triple A. That's four. The Twins will need a fifth starter on Saturday (unless they have another rainout before that).

So Berrios, right? Well ,,, not necessarily.

Early in the offseason, before pitching coach Neil Allen knew he would still be the pitching coach this year, Allen laid out a new protocol for side sessions. Every pitcher would open with three fastballs to one corner followed by three fastballs to the other corner. They have to hit those spots at least two of three times before proceeding to other pitches. And, Allen said, the ability to demonstate that command was going to be a factor in promotions.

That stipulation caught my attention. It was part of why I figured all spring that Berrios was not prominent among their rotation options. It may be unfair to call this the Berrios Protocol -- fastball command was an issue for other pitchers as well in 2016 -- but it certainly provides a formal internal reason to overlook Berrios' dominance in the minors.

Berrios is dominating Triple A. That's nice. The question is: How is he dominating Truple A? If he isn't locating his (rather straight) fastball to both side of the plate, he's not coming up.

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