Twins’ Berrios takes another step forward

Jose Berrios has taken another big step forward in Year 3.

Long considered the Minnesota Twins‘ ace of the future, Berrios struggled mightily as a 22-year-old rookie in 2016, finishing the season with an 8.02 ERA and a 1.869 WHIP.

But after cutting that ERA in half the following year, the right-hander has taken off in his third season.

Berrios leads the Twins’ rotation with a 3.15 ERA, and is one of just three pitchers in the league with two complete games this season.

He’s averaging just 1.75 walks per nine innings after averaging nearly three a year ago. And while his strikeout numbers were respectable last season (8.59 per nine innings), Berrios has added nearly a full strikeout this year, and is up to 9.52 per nine.

By that metric he’s one of the most improved pitchers in the majors this year, behind only Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander, and the youngest pitcher in the top five.

MLB, Largest K/BB Ratio Improvement – 2017 to 2018

*Minimum 25 starts in 2017 and 10 starts in 2018

Player Team 2017 2018 Diff.
Justin Verlander DET-HOU 3.04 5.91 +2.87
Jose Berrios MIN 2.90 5.45 +2.55
Patrick Corbin ARI 2.92 4.78 +1.86
Jose Urena MIA 1.77 3.57 +1.80
Nick Pivetta PHI 2.46 4.21 +1.75

He isn’t the only Twins player in the midst of a career season.

Outfielder Eddie Rosario and third baseman Eduardo Escobar have been a revelation this season, and are on pace to finish as one of the highest-scoring duos in Twins history.

Rosario and Escobar have combined for 88 extra-base hits this season, more than any other duo in Twins history at this point in the season and numbers not seen in Minnesota since the days of Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter.

Twins, Most XBH by teammate duo Pre-July – Since 1961

Teammates XHB Year
Eduardo Escobar (47) & Eddie Rosario (41) 88 2018
Torii Hunter (42) & Jacque Jones (34) 76 2002
Chuck Knoblauch (41) & Kirby Puckett (35) 76 1994
Larry Hisle (38) & Rod Carew (37) 75 1977
Torii Hunter (39) & Justin Morneau (35) 74 2007

Other notes:

— Berrios’ pair of complete games is quite the achievement. This season, 25 teams have yet to get two complete games out of their entire pitching staff.

— Escobar has been stellar with runners in scoring position this month. He leads the majors in average (.571), OPS (1.973) and doubles (7) with RISP, and ranks second with 20 RBI.

— Twins veteran Joe Mauer has been particularly effective in interleague play over the years. His .400 OBP ranks third amongst active players.

— The Twins were involved in another walk-off Thursday against the Chicago White Sox. They’ve been involved in 11 such games this year. Only the St. Louis Cardinals have played more.

Statistics courtesy of STATS