by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It was a tale of two halves for the Twins’ Kyle Gibson, who went from unusable to a surprisingly relevant option in the second half. It was an across the board change and certainly makes you wonder if there is potential value heading into 2018.
Before we dig in, first let’s look at his splits:
The improvement in the home run rate shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering his 50.8% groundball rate on the season. A career 3.17 BB/9 also tells us that his struggles there are not the norm, and a 68.8% first half strand rate told us that an improvement was coming. The surprise may have been the jump in strikeouts, considering a 6.24 K/9 for his career.
His SwStr% definitely spiked after the All-Star Break, up to 11.1%. He was generating swings and misses with three different pitches all season long as well, helping add to the promise:
- Slider – 21.38%
- Changeup – 16.59%
- Curveball – 14.34%
He was throwing his slider more, which definitely aided the improvement. Over the first three months he was throwing it 15.12% of the time, but over the final three months he was up to 19.74%. Overall opponents hit .236 against the pitch, and he also registered 46 K. Throwing it more makes a lot of sense, and if he continues to utilize it around 20% of the time similar results are possible.
No one is about to dub Gibson a potential All-Star, though it’s not unthinkable as he brings the potential to display all three skills that we like to see from pitchers. Maybe he’s not a double-digit strikeout artist, but he could maintain a strikeout rate around 8.0-ish. Couple that with solid control + groundballs and similar results could easily be in his future.
Think of him matching an ERA of around 3.75. We’d love to project him for a better WHIP as well, but he has continually carried an elevated line drive rate (23.1% last season) leading to an inflated BABIP (.328). If he can fix that, to go with the other skills, it’s possible he posts 3.50/1.25 type marks. While we wouldn’t pay for those numbers, the possibility makes him an intriguing late round play.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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