Big Ten Conference Recap: Minnesota Pitching

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.

Name CL K% BB% K-BB% BABIP Pitches TBF
Bechstein, Allen SR 0.102 0.140 -0.038 0.402 521 157
Fern, Scott JR 0.123 0.219 -0.096 0.310 407 114
Isaksson, Phil JR 0.161 0.102 0.059 0.278 1194 354
Kray, Kevin FR 0.127 0.196 -0.069 0.354 361 102
Lubinsky, Austin SO 0.142 0.099 0.043 0.343 473 141
Matyas, Scott JR 0.385 0.128 0.256 0.371 602 156
Oakes, TJ FR 0.152 0.077 0.075 0.313 1238 375
Rasmussen, Luke JR 0.129 0.096 0.033 0.361 680 209
Rosin, Seth JR 0.223 0.054 0.169 0.298 1432 426
Ryan, Tim JR 0.068 0.193 -0.125 0.344 302 88
Sexton, Cullen JR 0.158 0.140 0.018 0.351 384 114
Soule, Billy FR 0.161 0.115 0.046 0.307 747 218

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.

Name CL K+ BB+ K-BB+ BABIP+
Bechstein, Allen SR 65 78 -91 84
Fern, Scott JR 79 9 -231 110
Isaksson, Phil JR 103 111 142 119
Kray, Kevin FR 81 29 -164 98
Lubinsky, Austin SO 91 113 102 101
Matyas, Scott JR 246 88 613 92
Oakes, TJ FR 97 133 179 109
Rasmussen, Luke JR 83 116 80 96
Rosin, Seth JR 143 153 404 114
Ryan, Tim JR 44 31 -299 100
Sexton, Cullen JR 101 78 42 98
Soule, Billy FR 103 100 110 111

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.

The Starters

  • 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.

The Relievers

  • 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.

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3 Comments on “Big Ten Conference Recap: Minnesota Pitching”

  1. […] Big Ten Conference Recap: Minnesota Pitching « Spartans Baseball 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 range and has a cutter. Also, an above-average, low-70′s curveball. Matyas is going to play a big roll and . […]

  2. Chris Webb says:

    I really like what Minnesota returns. Oakes, if not this year, could be the best pitcher in the conference come his junior season. Lubinsky looked great out in the Cape this summer, should be th 3rd man in the rotation behind Isaksson who I continue to undervalue.

    Anderson has to be thrilled to get Matyas back. As dominant of a closer not named Jake Hale that I’ve seen in the Big Ten the last five seasons. Would probably top Hale too since Hale went from rotation to close twice while Matyas has been the closer his entire career.

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for the comments, Chris. Agreed on Oakes. To be that good as a freshman bodes incredibly well (been working on some other metrics that really shine on him).


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