Minnesota Twins

Twins should just skip Jose Berrios’ next start

After another rough outing Wednesday night, the Minnesota Twins need to just skip Jose Berrios’ next turn in the starting rotation.

Over five August starts, Jose Berrios posted a 7.57 ERA as opposing hitters posted a .333/.395/.556 slash-line against him. He typically struggles in August, to the tune of a 5.96 ERA for his career at this point, and the Twins used the Sept. 1 roster expansion to push Berrios’ first start of the month back a day and allow him to reset a bit.

But right from the start Wednesday night against the Boston Red Sox, it was not to be. Mookie Betts hit Berrios’ first pitch of the game, a center-cut cookie fastball, into the seats above the Green Monster at Fenway Park. In his second at-bat, Betts hit another home run on the first pitch.

Berrios finished with six runs allowed on eight hits over five innings Wednesday night. He struck out six and walked three, and according to Statcast his average fastball velocity was up to 93 MPH after coming in at 92.6 MPH in August. In pitching parlance, he seems to be struggling with command to the “glove side.”

Parker Hageman of Twins Daily offered the heat maps to prove it, showing the difference between Berrios’ outing Wednesday night and his start against Boston on June 17.

In that first outing against the Red Sox, Berrios went eight innings with 10 strikeouts and zero walks while limiting that potent lineup to one run on five hits. Using Bill James’ Game Score metric, it was his third-best start this season as he had a 2.80 ERA with a .233 opponent’s batting average over his first 22 starts.

Berrios’ next start would be in line to come against another potent lineup in the Washington Nationals next Tuesday night, after he avoids pitching in this weekend’s series against the Cleveland Indians. The Twins also have an off-day next Monday, so there seems to be an opportunity to push starters back or outright skip someone’s turn.

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If skipping someone is in consideration, Berrios would benefit more than anyone else in the Twins’ rotation even though he theoretically threw the ball better Wednesday night. For any postseason hopes to be realized, getting their ace and likely Game 1 playoff series starter back to pitching like one is a top priority.

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