Big Ten Conference Recap: Minnesota PitchingPosted: September 8, 2010
The team pitching recaps from the 2010 season are all linked to under the 2010 Season Recap tab. This is the sixth installment, focusing on the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
The Gophers won the Big Ten Conference regular season and conference tournament crowns and sported a 15-9 record, but struggled overall to a 32-30 record.
Including non-conference data, Minnesota gave up the third fewest runs in the league with just 325. I’ve got them estimated as giving up the fourth fewest at 343 — so their pitching staff was about as legitimate as they come.
Here’s their pitchers raw data.
K% – Strikeout Percentage (K/total batters faced)
BB% – Walks and Hit Batter Percentage (BB+HBP/TBF)
K-BB% – Difference between K% and BB%
BABIP – Batting Average on Balls In Play
Pitches – An estimated pitch count total from Boyd’s World
TBF – Total Batters Faced
I’ve included each players class in 2010. An asterisk denotes that the player was a redshirt player.
The Gophers top three starters were Seth Rosin (now San Francisco property), TJ Oakes (true freshman in 2010) and Phil Isaksson (true junior in 2010) combining to make 42 of the 62 starts. Here are the above stats graded against the Big Ten average.
With the number of people with numbers higher than 100 on this list, it’s pretty easy to see why they were in the top three in the league in runs allowed.
- Seth Rosin led the team with 16 starts and his 103 innings were 16 more than anyone else on the staff threw last year. He K’d 22.3% of hitters and walked just 5.4. He had a much lower than average BABIP as well and it added up to one very, very effective starter in raw numbers. Rosin has the typical big-body that MLB clubs love and some velocity to match. His four-seamer works in the 92-94 area with a 90-92 MPH two-seamer. There are clear questions with his secondary offerings but his strike out numbers in the Big Ten last year likely show off how adept he is at moving the ball in and out. If I’m being honest, I see him as a reliever in the major leagues rather than the inning-eating, hulking starter. Kind of a J.J. Putz-type in the future if Rosin can really improve either his 76 MPH curveball or his low-80’s change-up. The velocity and upside are there with professional training, but it’s doubtful he fulfills it (as it is for most kids). I’m sure the Gophers would’ve loved him to return for his senior year.
- But Minnesota will have to slide up TJ Oakes, who picked up the second most starts with 14. Oakes had a very successful true freshman campaign on the best team in the conference. It really speaks to his talents that he accrued so many starts. He was essentially league average in K’s and posted a 133 BB+ — fantastic for his class. Oakes works in the 88-91 range with the fastball and possesses a slider around 80. He’ll be near the top of the Gopher rotation and I’d really expect him to excel in 2011 (Alex Wimmers-as-a-sophomore-level?).
- Phil Isaksson was even better than Oakes in strike outs but a bit worse with regard to walks. Still, the lefty will bring back some quality experience to the weekend rotation as a senior in 2011. He posted just a .278 batting average on balls in play, and if that regresses with his 10.5% BB rate, his production might slip. That’s not a given, though.
- You have to start with Scott Matyas. The Gophers bullpen ace posted the most dominant season from a Big Ten pitcher not named Alex Wimmers. A silly-good 38.5% K-rate led the conference, though he posted a 12.8% BB rate which could come down a bit. He’s a reliever all the way in pro ball, but he’s coming back to finish his final season with the Gophers. He works in the 88-91 range and has a cutter. Also, an above-average, low-70’s curveball. Matyas is going to play a big roll and it’d behoove the Gophers to use him literally as much as possible out of the ‘pen next year. Like, say, how Texas A&M used John Stilson.
- Billy Soule racked up 50.2 innings over 22 appearances out of the Gopher ‘pen last year. 16.1% K-rate is very solid coupled with league-average BB rates. Like all freshman, I’d expect some growth and potentially better numbers.
- Junior Luke Rasmussen is the first Gophers pitcher I’m writing about to post below-average strike out numbers. That’s absurd. He K’d just 12.9% of batters and BB’d 9.6% — very good BB numbers. Rasmussen will be a Senior in 2011 and picked up 4 starts last year. I’d expect much of the same.
- Allen Bechstein finished up his career with the Gophers by appearing in 13 games with 5 starts and a single save. He had a higher BB% than K% (14% vs. 10.2%) and should be fairly easy to replace given he faced just 157 batters in 2010.
- Austin Lubinsky is the final reliever I’m going to write about. The sophomore last year posted above-average BB numbers (9.9%) and below-average K numbers — though 14.2% isn’t awful at all. He only had 10 appearances but 7 of them were starts. He’ll likely battle for the third weekend rotation spot. At least that’s my guess.
Minnesota’s really set up to have another very good pitching staff in 2011. TJ Oakes has the chance to be the best pitcher in the conference and the best bullpen arm (in terms of production, at least) will return. Add in a very solid No. 2 starter in Phil Isaksson, and it’d be easy to envision the Gophers back in the top third of the Big Ten, depending on the offense.
Next up in the series will be the Northwestern Wildcats.