Twins demote Josmil Pinto back to Triple-A

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One side effect of the Twins signing Kendrys Morales to be their everyday designated hitter is that it pushed Josmil Pinto out of the lineup and, it turns out, back to the minors.

Rather than keep Pinto around as a backup catcher the Twins have decided to send the 25-year-old rookie to Triple-A. Development-wise he’s likely better off playing regularly in Rochester than sitting on the bench in Minnesota, but it’s odd that the Twins benched Pinto for 27 of their first 64 games before they even signed Morales.

Pinto has slumped recently and his defense behind the plate has been predictably shaky, but his .813 OPS in 64 games as a big leaguer is the 17th-highest mark in Twins history among every hitter with at least 200 plate appearances, ahead of guys like Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter, Matt Lawton, Chuck Knoblauch, Marty Cordova, Paul Molitor, A.J. Pierzynski, Jason Kubel, and Tom Brunansky.

Pinto’s career on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS are also higher than Morales’ marks since returning from a broken ankle in 2012. He can hit, but for whatever reason the Twins played him sporadically despite having the DH spot available and then decided Morales was a worthwhile upgrade, so now Pinto is left to beat up on International League pitchers for a while.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.