On Tuesday, July 24, the Blue Jays will play the second game of a three game series against the Minnesota Twins. Jose Berrios will start for Minessota while Ryan Borucki will get the call for the Blue Jays.
Jose Berrios was initially drafted in the first round of the 2012 amateur players draft by the Minnesota Twins. After breezing through most of the minor leagues, the right-hander was called up during the 2016 season. However, once he made it to the big leagues, it was far from smooth sailing.
The twenty-four-year-old’s first start ever in the major leagues came on April 27, 2016 against Cleveland. The opposing team managed five earned runs on six hits across four innings. In addition to the five earned runs, Cleveland also walked twice and had a hit-batsman—far from an ideal first start.
After starting his big league career with a 11.25 ERA, the Twins hurler completed his season with 14 starts and an 8.02 ERA—not exactly the season one dreams about as a kid. However, in 2017 he bounced back with a 3.89 ERA and 3.84 FIP, after initially starting the season in Triple-A.
Aside from having a disastrous rookie season, one other key fact sets the young starter apart from his peers. Much has been made of the third time through the order in the past few years (mostly as a result of the Dave Roberts’ managerial style), but Berrios is very different than most other pitchers in his third try—he gets better.
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The Twins hurler has posted a .242/.296/.412 slash line when facing the lineup for a second time. However, the third time through the order he has managed a .222/.279/.397 line.
After bouncing back in his sophomore season, the Twins hurler has had an excellent third season in the Biggs. The righty has posted a 3.68 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 1.013 WHIP, and 116 ERA+. As well, he has been worth a decent 2.3 fWAR—just 0.5 behind his 2017 total.
The young starter does not have a wide range of pitches to choose from. The right-hander has used a four seam fastball, curveball, sinker, and change-up this year. However, despite offering four different pitches, he is primarily a fastball-curveball pitcher.
Berrios has thrown his four seam fastball 35% of the time this season. The heater is decently quick, averaging a velocity of 93.86 mph. However, the four seamer has allowed line drives at a poor rate of 33.71% of balls in play. Despite this concerning rate, the pitch has allowed a pretty good .362 SLGA.
In addition, Berrios has broken off hooks 28.92% of the time this season. The curve maintains a decently quick 82.15 mph average velocity, with funky lateral sweep and curve. With his low arm slot, the breaking ball looks like a mix between a slider and curveball. As a result of this great movement, batters have whiffed on the pitch at a decent rate of 36.63% of swings. However, when the pitch has been hit, it’s been hit hard—allowing a .213 ISOA.
The former first round pick has thrown his sinker 26.1% of the time this season. The sinking-fastball is just a few ticks behind the fastball, in terms of velocity, averaging 93.27 mph. The pitch has been decent this year, giving up a .243 BAA and three home runs.
Berrios has changed speeds on batters 9.84% of the time this season. The off speed pitch has missed a fair amount of bats, posting a whiff rate of 29.58% of swings. While the pitch has been good at producing whiffs, it has been hit incredibly hard when batters connect, giving up a crazy .636 SLGA.
If the young pitcher’s initial numbers were not impressive enough already, he has also been great at striking out batters and limiting walks. The righty has managed a good 24.9% K-rate and 8.98 K/9. As well, he has kept batters away from free bases, allowing a 5.7% BB-rate and 2.05 BB/9.
The Blue Jays have played poorly against the starter in limited experience. Most concerning, the hitter that has seen the Twins pitcher the most, Kendrys Morales, has been terrible. Morales has managed just one hit in nine at-bats—the one hit was a home run, though. As well, both Justin Smoak and Yangervis Solarte have taken the collar in three respective at-bats.
The Blue Jays have drawn a tough match-up for the second game of the three game set. According to the numbers, though, the best time to hit the right-hander will be the second time through the order.