How a 60-game season could get the best out of Jose Berrios

The Twins have been waiting for Berrios to be an ace and 2020 could be his best season yet.
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Jose Berrios

Heading into the offseason, Twins fans were begging the front office to do something about the starting rotation. While many of the initial responses were signing veterans Rich Hill and Homer Bailey to one-year deals, fans were hoping to land the big name such as David Price, Zack Wheeler or Madison Bumgarner and that didn't happen.

The attempts to land those names didn't come without a lack for effort, but the Twins may feel comfortable with what they have at the top of the rotation. Of course, that list includes last year's top starter Jose Berrios.

In recent years, there's been plenty of debate whether the 26-year-old should be considered an "ace." His overall body of work looks the part as Berrios has compiled a 40-27 record with a 3.80 ERA in three full seasons with the Twins (he also went 3-7 with an 8.02 ERA during his rookie year in 2016).

But the biggest concern with Berrios is whether he can make it through a full season without slumping. Just last year, Berrios jumped out to a 10-5 record with a 2.80 ERA through July 31.

Such a performance led the Twins to not add a top starter at the deadline and instead look to improve their bullpen, but it proved to be costly as the wheels fell off from there. In 10 starts after the deadline, Berrios went 4-3 with a 5.83 ERA, leading the Twins rotation into a full-blown crisis and bringing in plenty of questions heading into this year.

The Twins didn't seem to have the same concerns and instead brought Berrios back as their top starter. While it may have been concerning and leading to the team to spend on a starter at this year's deadline, the way 2020 has shaken out may be to the Twins' benefit.

Working out the math in the 60-game schedule, the Twins should be able to pencil in Berrios for 12 starts during the regular season. It's unlikely the team would opt to have him pitch earlier if they have an off-day mainly because the Twins have just one scheduled throughout the entire month of August. In other words, Berrios is going to be pitching on schedule.

Throughout his three full seasons with the Twins, Berrios has been solid in his first 12 starts of the season. From 2017 to 2019, Berrios posted a 21-10 record with a 3.73 ERA in those starts but also was strong in K/9 (8.6) and BB/9 (2.0) rates, meaning he's delivered a solid performance.

Would fans like to see better numbers to declare him an ace? Absolutely. But in a shortened season, Berrios may have the upper hand especially as the year shifts into the postseason.

With a limited number of starts, Berrios would be ready to go and would theoretically be playing in the month of "June" as the Twins get into October. That's great news considering June has been the right-hander's best month by far with an 8-4 record and a 2.85 ERA.

The record is nice, but his effectiveness also goes through the roof, holding batters to a .219/.275/.352 line, which in turn could be considered ace-like.

These numbers aren't a simple concept of copy and paste for Berrios, but it likely shows a trend in his performance. Berrios gets off to a solid start and then turns it on in June before hitting the wall. If the season is only three months long, Berrios could be hitting his stride just when the Twins need him the most in the postseason.

If this comes to fruition, it probably won't answer questions about whether Berrios can become the ace the Twins have been screaming for since they traded Johan Santana. But if it helps the cause in 2020, Twins fans certainly won't mind.

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