Now that the majority of the 2018 season is in the rear view mirror and we're nearing the 100 game mark, I thought I’d take a look to see how the key players added by the Falvine Brain Trust have fared to date. My gut told me that I was in for some disappointing revelations, and my gut is as honest as summer days are long. The front office put most of its focus over the winter on improving the pitching staff and more or less standing pat on position players. It was a solid strategy considering the Twins’ performance in 2017. But the results are far from what we’d hoped.
Starting with the starters, Jake Odorizzi has hurled his way to his highest ERA (4.54) and WHIP (1.446) since a 2012 cup of coffee when he started but two games and threw just seven and a third innings. In other words, when you cut out that small sample size appendage, he’s been having the worst season of his career. Not by large margins, but enough to make him a disappointment so far for fans looking for a much steadier rotation. Considering the Twins gave him a $2.2 million dollar raise over his salary last year with the Rays, it’s fair to say we’ve realized negative value from Jake so far.
Lance Lynn is the other off-season acquisition who has delivered below par value as a starter. With a 5.22 ERA and a 1.653 WHIP, he’s also having the worst season of his career. But to my mind, the more telling stat is his meager 1.65 K/BB rate, which again, is the worst of his career. His K9 rate is actually a bit higher than his career average, but he’s basically walking 2 more batters every 9 innings over his career rate.
In looking to shore up the bullpen, the front office prioritized getting a proven closer in Fernando Rodney. And according to the numbers, our newly naturalized citizen has probably performed closer to expectations than any of Falvine’s off-season pickups. His ERA of 3.12 and WHIP of 1.240 are 58 points and 10 points respectively below his career averages. He’s saved 21 games while blowing 5. That’s a ratio of 4.2 saves for every blown attempt, so not quite up to par with his career ratio of 4.5. In Rodney, at least, the Twins seem to have got the performance they bargained for, albeit with a $4.25 million price tag.
Addison Reed is another pitching get that’s gone mostly sour this season. He’s currently on the DL, but sporting a year to date 4.83 ERA and 1.439 WHIP out of the bullpen filling the role of Rodney’s setup man. How does that compare to his career averages? Not so good – 50 points higher on the ERA, and 25 points higher on the WHIP. With those results it must be hard for the front office to swallow the $8.25 million salary they gave him this year. It’s hard for me and it’s not even my money.
Zack Duke was supposed be another solid bullpen upgrade and for the most part he’s lived up to the billing, posting a 3.38 ERA (128 ERA+) that’s better than his career number by 90 points, though his 1.587 WHIP is higher than you’d like to see in a reliever. But that slightly inflated WHIP this year is more or less counteracted by Duke’s quite low 2.72 FIP, one of the best of his career and 66 points lower than his ERA.
With the new pitchers accounted for, we can turn our attention to Falvine’s main position player pickup, Logan Morrison. I like Morrison. He seems like a solid competitor and a good team player. But unfortunately, he’s been a pretty big bust as a hitter for the Twins. Brought in to spell Joe Mauer at first base with a power-up and anchor the DH role, Morrison’s slash line of .193/.287/.367/.654 is clear and away the very worst of his 8 years in the show. I have no idea what’s behind his struggles, but he’s certainly not earning his $5.5 million. As a fan I’m going to have a real hard time seeing the sense of it if the front office exercises their $8 million 2019 option instead of their $1 million buyout.
Coming out of the break, the Twins have dropped their first 2 games against a dismal Royals team that’s almost certain to lose more than 100 contests, while the Indians won their first two against the Rangers. That puts the Twins 9.5 games behind and takes a lot of wind out of the sails that were billowing nicely from that winning streak before the mid-season classic. Their return to the doldrums also makes them definite sellers with just 9 days before the non-waiver trade deadline, assuming they can find buyers for whomever they try to deal. The Twins send Odorizzi to the mound today, the Royals counter with Brad Keller who has pitched a lot better than his 2-4 record. Play ball!