The Minnesota Twins announced a couple of signings today, as LHP Rich Hill and RHP Homer Bailey now call the AL Central home. However, were these good signings by the defending AL Central Champions? Let’s take a look.
The Twins rotation was going to look differently anyway, as they had previously lost Kyle Gibson to the Rangers, and Martin Perez is now a member of the Boston Red Sox. While Gibson was a pretty serviceable starter for the Twins, he had problems with walking batters at times, and the same could definitely be said for Perez.
Michael Pineda was a very nice surprise for the Twins last season, until he was suspended for PED’s and was ineligible for the playoffs. Pineda was re-signed by the Twins, but they still needed some reinforcements. The Twins rotation, and their pitching staff in general, was ineffective in their short ALCS series with the Yankees. If that series demonstrated anything, it was that the Twins needed some help on the mound.
Enter Homer Bailey and Rich Hill, who both signed one-year deals with the Twins.
After spending his entire career with the Reds, Bailey split last season between the Royals and Athletics. Bailey went 13-9 with a 4.57 ERA in 31 starts last season. The right-hander’s numbers after the trade to the Athletics were fine (8.37 K/9, 1.20 WHIP, 3.65 FIP), and his numbers were much improved from his horrendous season in 2018. A lot of his success last season could be attributed to his increased usage of his splitter. After using the pitch about 16% of the time in 2018, Bailey used it 26.4% last season. And it was quite effective, as Bailey limited hitters to a .182 AVG against, and gave up just 12 XBH (out of 740 splitters he threw in 2019) off of it.
However, even though his splitter was extremely effective last season doesn’t mean all of his stuff worked. Bailey had quite a bit of trouble with his breaking balls. Batters had a.311 AVG and a . 345 wOBA off of Bailey’s slider, and a .343 AVG and .426 wOBA off of his curve. Another problem that Bailey had was giving up the hard hit balls, as opposing hitters had an 89.8 MPH average exit velocity off of Bailey, more than 2 MPH over the MLB average. If Bailey wants to have a season similar to his time with the A’s, he’s going to need to rediscover his breaking balls.
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Last season was pretty much a lost season for the veteran left-hander. Hill threw just 58.2 innings with the Dodgers last season as he dealt with numerous injuries throughout the year. However, Hill was quite effective when he was healthy. Hill had an ERA of 2.45 ERA and was a strikeout machine (11.13 K/9) for the Dodgers. Hill’s exit velocity numbers were also quite strong (average exit velocity was 2.9 better than league average), as were his Hard Hit%.
Hill isn’t a power pitcher by any means, as he relies heavily on besting hitters with his breaking balls. Hill threw breaking balls 44.5% of the time last season, and does a terrific job of getting hitters off balance. The big question is Hill is how healthy will he be in 2020. Hill landed on the DL/IL at least once during the last four seasons, and he had modified Tommy John surgery in November which will keep him out for a good chunk of 2020. Can Hill be effective upon his return? That is still to be determined.
There’s no doubt some risk with both of these moves, but there’s also quite a bit of potential. What are your thoughts on Hill and Bailey? Let us know on our social media channels, and be sure to keep checking out the FH Freeway site for more news, reports and fantasy tips.