Rookie left-hander Dietrich Enns made his MLB debut Thursday and the Twins won their fifth consecutive ball game. They’ve now won 7 of their past 9 and shortly after selling at the non-waiver trade deadline, they have their fans refreshing the MLB Wild Card standings every morning.
Much more on the Twins and their postseason opportunities in future columns. This column is about Dietrich Enns, the lefty starter that the Twins acquired from the Yankees, along with Zack Littell, from the Yankees in the Jaime Garcia trade (the second one).
Here are 5 thoughts from his MLB debut:
1. Enns worked mostly at 90-91 mph with his fastball.
He also hit some 92s. He’s not going to be an overpowering guy, by the looks of things. Stop me if you’ve heard the refrain before: Command of his fastball will be an important trait in the Majors.
I watched Enns on TV on Thursday and it’s the first time that I’d seen him pitch. He seemed to me to really expect to throw his curveball for strikes, even though he didn’t always accomplish that in his debut outing. He did have some very useful breaking balls, and he can also gets swings and misses with the pitch depending on the location, break, and setup.
You always wonder about the adjustments required to go from getting out minor league hitters — who may swing at more quality pitches and help the pitcher out by expanding the strike zone — to the guys in the Majors. I wondered that Thursday specifically with a few of the early curves Enns threw.
He also showed a changeup in the 3rd inning before things got a little hairy and Paul Molitor used a quick hook to hand things over to his bullpen.
You wouldn’t say he features overpowering stuff, but he has more variety in his arsenal than the current incarnation of his rotation mate, Bartolo Colon. Enns, if you’re wondering, was 5 years old when Colon debuted in the big leagues.
2. It’s worth a peek at his minor league numbers to inform our early belief about him.
It’s fairly rare for a player to have a huge deviation from who he was in the minor leagues once he reaches the highest rung on the ladder. So far we only have a few innings of big league work off which to judge. Relative to that small sample size, we have a mountain of info from the minor leagues.
I’ll skip the injury history, as that’s been well-documented. Despite those various setbacks, Enns has a 1.89 caeer ERA in 395 2/3 innings. That includes a 2.10 ERA this year in 51 1/3 innings split between the Twins and Yankees organizations, mostly in the International League at Triple-A. For his career, he strikes out about a better per inning, and that’s the case this year as well. He’s walked an average fof 3.4 batters per 9 innings in his minor league career, which includes 12 walks in 51 2/3 innings this year (a pretty good 2.1 BB/9).
He’s surrendered just 13 homers in his whole minor league career, which isn’t quite Trevor Hildenberger-level dominance in that regard, but it’s a pretty good mark. (He served up a long ball Thursday in his first outing in the Majors.) Three of the 7 outs he recorded were on ground balls, although Brewers hitters also hit a few balls hard against him in the series finale.
3. He got an infield hit.
That’s a memory the Enns supporters won’t soon forget. Legging out an infield single against slick-fielding shortstop Orlando Arcia.
The headline on this video reads “Enns tallies first hit of career.” I saw another headline Thursday night that read “Enns smacks his first career hit,” which leads me to believe that some headline writer out there has a sense of humor.
4. Without looking: How many pitchers have the Twins used this season?
Dietrich makes 31.
Thirty-one different pitchers — OK, 30 pitchers and Chris Gimenez — in 113 games! That’s already more than last year’s total of 29, and that Twins team lost 103 games based largely on the fact that as a group they couldn’t pitch well enough. This team is one game above .500 as of this writing.
When I first saw that Dietrich would get the nod Thursday it made me wonder if Derek Falvey is surprised by the staggering turnover, or if it’s about what he expected when he took over the Twins.
The previous four seasons the Twins averaged 24 pitchers required to complete the fully season of games. This team’s on pace to use 44. I’d be shocked if they get to that number, of course, but it just serves as a point of reference for how much they’ve sped through pitchers this season.
5. Enns left the game after he got into some hot water in the 3rd inning.
Molitor had seen enough, and he handed it over to the bullpen, which did a great job keeping the Brewers at bay the rest of the contest.
In particular, Alan Busenitz and Miguel Sano saved his bacon with a nifty groundball double play to end the inning and strand a couple of runners after Enns left with Brewers on base.