Reusse: Blue Jays’ Berrios could still be the Twins pitcher of the year



The Baseball Writers Association of America granted the Twin Cities a chapter that coincided with the arrival of the Twins for the 1961 season. Only one award was released at the end of the season, and that went to Harmon Killebrew as the team MVP.

A year later, the chapter got into a plaque-winning frenzy, adding a Twins’ Pitcher of the Year, Outstanding Rookie, Most Improved Player and an Upper Midwest Player of the Year.

The Pitcher of the Year Award bears the name of Joe Haynes, former Big Leaguer, husband of Thelma Haynes, sister and partner of owner Calvin Griffith. Joe died in 1967 of a heart attack while shoveling snow at his Hopkins home.

The competition for the Haynes Award at the end of several seasons was phenomenal, such as in 1988 when Frank Viola went 24-7, defeating Allan Anderson, the league’s ERA champion with 2.45, and Jeff Reardon with 42 saves.

This was the third Haynes Award for viola, although it was surpassed with the Cy Young Award in 1988.

As this flop of a Twins season draws to a close, the Twin Cities chapter has voted on our awards, with the results to be announced.

So it was only the alleged Twins 2021 Pitcher of the Year who conquered the hill at Target Field on Friday evening. And strangely enough, he wouldn’t be out until the end of the first.

Jose Berrios switched permanently to the Twins rotation on May 13, 2017 and made his last start on July 24, 2021, also in Target Field. In those four seasons and almost two months, he made 157 starts without missing a lap.

It traded in Toronto on July 30th and brought two highly rated prospects with it. The Twins had played 103 games when the deal was closed and had played 50 since joining on Friday. In those 50 games, the leader in several Twins pitching categories hadn’t changed.

Innings: Berrios 121 2/3, with Michael Pineda next at 103 2/3. Strikeouts: Berrios 128, over 113 of the injured Kenta Maeda. Starters WHIP: Berrios, 1,044 hits / walks per inning over Bailey Ober, 1,230. Starter ERA: Berrios, 3.48 over Pinedas 3.73.

Berrios made his 11thNSStart for the Blue Jays. He faced the Twins in Toronto last week. I heard most of this game on a Blue Jays satellite radio broadcast and discovered the following:

The 27-year-old right-handed player fought for more than one chance of competing in a wildcard race. He also gained a grateful audience.

Berrios left the game 5-3 with two outs in the seventh game and ended up with his fifth win in Toronto. The runs against him came on a two-run bloop double by Nick Gordon and a home run by Ben Rortvedt, the light-hearted rookie catcher.

Ben Wagner, who hosted the Blue Jays radio show as a solo, offered several superlatives when Berrios left the hill to a loud ovation at the Rogers Center. One of them was “fantastic” as I remember it.

Here in Minnesota, two All-Star Games and 32 starts a year hadn’t convinced a large chunk of Twins fans that Berrios was a real top-of-rotation starter.

My theory is that Berrios’ nearly 200 innings with an ERA in the middle of 3.00s will be impossible for the twins in the near future. Ober (26) and Joe Ryan (25) are promising, but the rest of the top prospects have put up very limited innings in the past two years (COVID cancellation in 2020, illnesses in 2021).

On Friday Berrios was defeated by Ober, who is 6-9 right-handed. Jose ended up losing 3-1 on this homecoming, sending the Blue Jays into desperate days in the AL wildcard race.

The capital offense for Berrios was leading Andrelton Simmons to open the third. Luis Arraez followed with a triple into the right field deck. Bryon Buxton hit the next pitch on the green in midfield.

Presto, 3-0 Twins, and almost all of the seven or eight missiles that hit the Blue Jays ended up in Twins gloves.

“I threw pretty well, but not in the third,” said Berrios in a post-game interview. “I ran Simmons, that was important. And a triple, and then the home run … I left the pitch in the middle to Buck.”

When asked about returning to Target Field as a visitor, Berrios said, “It was different when I came from the other shelter. I still enjoy pitching at this ballpark. … I remember some faces in the stands. Me enjoyed tonight. “

Not so much the five minutes in the third, though. Go to the # 9 hitter. Triple. Home Run. Ball game.



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