Wetmore: 5 thoughts on Pelfrey, dueling debuts, Puig and Colabello
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MINNEAPOLIS - The Twins dropped Thursday night's game in extra innings to suffer a series sweep at the hands of the Dodgers. Minnesota never quite got in the first game and lost 9-4. Aaron Hicks left Thursday evening's game with concussion-like symptoms.
Kris Johnson will be demoted back to Triple-A Rochester after joining the Twins as a doubleheader roster exemption (26th man).
If you didn't see Wednesday's 5 thoughts column, here's the link that will complete the Dodgers series for you. (And if you didn't see that Lou Ferrigno threw out the ceremonial first pitch Thursday, this photo gallery might be worth your time.)
This column presents 5 thoughts I had during Thursday's day-night split doubleheader.
As always, feel free to ask any questions or make any observations in the comments. If you have a unique baseball observation during a game, feel free to share it with me on Twitter (@DerekWetmore).
1. Mike Pelfrey has been awful and he has been accountable. Both those facts are true. While admirable, facing the music after each start isn't sufficient to keep a spot in a Major League rotation. As Ron Gardenhire said between games, "This is the big leagues, it's all about results. You've got to get people out."
In 5 starts, Pelfrey has surrendered nearly a run per inning (21 earned runs and 23 total runs in 23 2/3 innings). He's allowed five home runs and 18 walks against just 10 strikeouts. He's 0-3 with a 7.99 ERA.
The Twins and Pelfrey say he that nothing physically is wrong. I wonder if Pelfrey will make his next start, or if he'll be replaced in the rotation.
"We'll sit down and talk to the pitching coach and the pitcher and everybody involved and see where we go with this, because it's not moving fast enough forward."
Pelfrey said he'd accept a demotion to the bullpen, if that's what the Twins demand. For more on that possibility and who might replace him, here's my story from Thursday.
"The velocity, looking up at 88-89, I can't explain that because I feel fine physically," Pelfrey said. "The ball's not coming out of my hand. I'm not blind, I can see that. The ball's not really sinking, either, it's running so it's flat. I'm falling behind and getting hit."
"This month has been hell for me," Pelfrey said. "It's hard to look these guys in the eye--they have to play behind me."
2. Among Twins regulars, Josmil Pinto leads the Twins in weighted on-base average. If you're unfamiliar, weighted on-base average (or wOBA) is a metric that combines on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and then weighs it in proportion to their run value for a given season. It also takes into account that OBP is 80 percent more instructive to a player's offensive contribution than is slugging percentage.
I won't often post leaderboard stuff, but the end of the month of April seemed like a good arbitrary end point. Pinto (.402 wOBA) leads Trevor Plouffe (.392), Chris Colabello (.364), Kurt Suzuki (.356), Brian Dozier (.353) and Jason Kubel (.350). Joe Mauer's wOBA is .327. He technically ranks 11th on the Twins, but I've only included players with at least 40 plate appearances, so he'd be 7th on that list.
3. Thursday's night cap of the day-night doubleheader featured dueling debuts. Kris Johnson (who came to the Twins in the Justin Morneau trade with the Pirates) faced off against Red Patterson.
Johnson gave up only four hits, but walked six batters and lasted just 4 1/3 innings. He struck out five.
Johnson, who had been added as the doubleheader roster exception (26th man), needed 106 pitches to get 13 outs. Of those pitches, 59 were strikes, which is 56 percent. It may have been an audition for a starting rotation spot and if so, Johnson didn't exactly impress. He qualifies as organizational depth right now, with the potential to be a future rotation member. He will be sent down to the minors following the start.
3(b). Patterson, meanwhile, has a fun bit of trivia attached to his name. His real name is John, but he shares the moniker 'Red' with Arthur Patterson, a long-time public relations official with the Dodgers from their days in Brooklyn and in L.A. I saw this pointed out on Twitter by Sports Illustrated's Jay Jaffe.
With a little research, I learned that the PR man Red Patterson is credited with creating the term "tape-measure home run," because he paced off a particularly deep blast from Mickey Mantle on April 17, 1953.
4. Yasiel Puig at one point Thursday had reached base in nine consecutive plate appearances, including eight hits and a walk. In the series, he went 8-for-14 with three walks. One of his outs was a deep smash Sam Fuld caught at the centerfield wall in extra innings Thursday night.
In the first inning of the nightcap, he airmailed the cutoff man by a wide margin on a sacrifice fly. With the bases loaded, Josmil Pinto lifted a fly ball to right field. Puig parked under it and threw all the way to the catcher on the fly. It was an impressive display of arm strength, but he never had a chance to catch Brian Dozier running from third, and the throw allowed the trail baserunners to advance.
That pretty well encapsulates Yasiel Puig. He's supremely talented but mysterious and rubs some people the wrong way with his style of play. Some feel he might even get better once his mental approach catches up to his physical skills.
I think he's wildly entertaining.
5. Chris Colabello had a pretty incredible April but you have to expect he'll come back to earth.
By all means applaud his performance to date but also recognize his peripheral numbers suggest a drop-off is on the horizon. He strikes out more than four times as often as he walks, which makes it hard to believe he'll keep up his .343 on-base percentage. Of his balls hit in play, nearly 38 percent of them are falling for hits, which is well above the league average.
Together, these stats suggest he benefitted from good luck in April. Many, including the author, believe spikes and dips in luck even out over the course of a season.
Combine that with manager Ron Gardenhire's suggestion Thursday that the league is starting to get a better idea how to get out the "new Colebello," and you wonder how long he can sustain this level of productivity.