Deduno strong starter despite erratic control
The last time Twins catcher Ryan Doumit was behind the plate for a start by Samuel Deduno, Doumit talked about the uncertainty with which each of Deduno's pitches approaches the plate.
Deduno's curveball often ends up in the dirt before bouncing into the chest of the catcher. His fastball has good movement on it as well and darts any which way. As a result, Doumit just sets up right behind the plate and lets Deduno's pitches do the work.
Like he had been in his previous seven starts with Minnesota, Deduno was effectively wild in Sunday's series finale against the Mariners, although he was hit with his first loss of the year in a 5-1 Seattle win. Deduno picked up a quality start by allowing just two runs in six innings of work.
During that time, though, he walked six batters while striking out just two.
"Deduno was Deduno," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "A lot of walks, and we were out there a long time playing defense. ... But he didn't break. He bent a little bit, got himself into some messes, but he got out of them."
The six walks were a season high for Deduno, who walked five batters in each of his last two outings. Despite his wildness Sunday, Deduno was able to prevent the floodgates from completely opening, thanks to a trio of double plays turned behind him.
The biggest double play Deduno induced came in the third inning, after he walked in a run with the bases loaded. Yet after walking John Jason to bring home Dustin Ackley, Deduno got Jesus Montero to ground to shortstop for a 6-4-3 double play. A run scored on the play, but it limited the damage as Deduno escaped the inning with two runs -- the only two he allowed.
In that third inning, Deduno issued four walks. Instead of getting the hook, though, Minnesota allowed him to stay on the mound and clean up the mess.
"He's got good stuff, and that's how he's able to get away with the walks," said Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, who walked twice and got a hit against Deduno on Sunday. "He's got the real good sinker and a real good curveball. He's got good stuff. I was just fortunate to be able to walk a few times and get the one hit."
With a runner on third and one out in the first inning, Deduno got a ground ball double play to end the inning without allowing a run. Deduno's final double play of the game came in his sixth and final inning as Trayvon Robinson grounded to shortstop, allowing the Twins to turn two behind Deduno.
"He can make some pitches when he has to," Gardenhire said. "Living like that, with those guys out there like that and base on balls is eventually going to get to you. He worked his way through it somehow or another. I don't know how he did it. It's kind of amazing, to tell you the truth."
Through his eight starts, Deduno has now allowed 75 base runners, but just 24 percent of those runners (18) have come around to score. That percentage is the lowest among all Twins starters. But given his high walk totals, it's unlikely that Deduno can sustain that type of success long-term.
And Minnesota knows that.
"It'll eventually catch up to you," Gardenhire said. "There's going to be some big hits when you're walking people and putting them out there and it's going to eventually get you buried. But he seems to be able to make some pitches when he has to. ... But that's not a good formula walking all those people like that."
Because of the high walk totals, Deduno certainly doesn't fit the typical mold of a Twins pitcher; Minnesota prides itself on pitchers who can pound the strike zone consistently. But with eight starts under his belt, it's fair to ask the question: does Deduno deserve a shot at the starting rotation next year? Amid his erratic control, Deduno lowered his ERA to 3.33 after Sunday's start.
For a Twins team with many questions among its pitching staff, Deduno might end up being one answer.
Robby Incmikoski contributed to this report.
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