Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em: Will Jose Berrios Fall Far Short Of “Ace-Like” Expectations?

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In the sprint that is the 2020 season it is easy to lose your patience quickly. Should we completely give up on a player? Should we move him to our bench? Should we ride it out and wait for better days? In this series we’ll try to answer those questions, so let’s take a look:

Jose Berrios – Minnesota Twins
2020 Statistics – 20.1 IP, 1 W, 2 L, 5.31 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 7.52 K/9, 3.98 BB/9

Everything appears to be going wrong for Berrios over his first four starts. His strikeouts are down… His walks are up… He’s allowing more home runs… So the question is if there’s hope that he can rediscover his stuff.

Interestingly he hasn’t altered his repertoire much, though he is using his changeup more than ever before:

  • 2018 – 9.13%
  • 2019 – 15.86%
  • 2020 – 19.45%

That’s not the issue, with opponents hitting just .235 against the pitch this season. Instead they are beating up his fourseam fastball (.370 BAA, .741 SLG) and his sinker (.313 BAA, .625 SLG). It’s not that he doesn’t have his velocity, averaging 94.72 mph on his fastball, it’s actually more just poor luck. For instance, on his fourseam fastball he currently owns a .421 BABIP (compare that to last season, when it was a far more reasonable .319).

Opponents are hitting the ball harder against him, with a 48.4% Hard%. Considering he’s still missing bats (11.2% SwStr%) and fooling hitters (33.5% O-Swing%), while maintaining a similar groundball rate (41.3%), you have to wonder if it is all just a matter of time before things start to click.

He has too long of a track record to think the strikeouts won’t be there… He has too long of a track record to think he won’t fine tune his control… There’s simply too much upside to think that he won’t get back on track. Stay the course, and in the end he should continue to be one of the better options in the league.

Droppable – No
Benchable – No

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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