Reports of the Twins checking in on starting pitchers to acquire at the trade deadline continue to heat up.
Earlier this week, Twins scouts were watching Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard when the Giants and Mets squared off against one another.
Now MLB Insider Jon Morosi is saying the Twins remain interested in Toronto's Marcus Stroman but it's unclear if they had a scout watching. Stroman, who's a more vocal personality than most pitchers, said it doesn't matter what scouts to show up to watch him pitch.
"I don’t think it matters, man, to be honest with you,” Stroman said. “Everyone was saying that going into the game. I couldn’t care less, to be honest. I feel like you can watch the game from home the same as watching it from behind [home plate], as far as spin rate and all the things they get [from] video. I don’t know why they show up, you know?"
With the amount of information that's available to teams nowadays, Stroman dead-on in that assumption. Stroman's not a power pitcher but he'd certainly be an upgrade in the starting rotation.
After an injury riddled season in 2018, Stroman has bounced back with impressive numbers this season. In 20 starts, the 28-year-old owns a 3.06 ERA with 93 strikeouts and 34 walks in 117 innings.
Stroman changed up his pitching repertoire in 2019 and has been a much better pitcher. Here's how he attacked hitters in 2018 vs. 2019, according to Fangraphs.
- Fastball (92.4 MPH) 49.2%
- Slider (86.3 MPH) 16.7%
- Cutter (90.7 MPH) 15.9%
- Curveball (83.1 MPH) 13.7
- Change up (82.8 MPH) 4.6%
- Fastball (92.7 MPH) 38.1%
- Slider (87 MPH) 2.4%
- Cutter (91.4 MPH) 21.4%
- Curveball (85.4 MPH) 33.1%
- Change up (86 MPH) 5.8%
Similar to Martin Perez, Stroman uses a healthy fastball-cutter diet against opposing hitters. He also upped his curveball usage and pretty much stopped throwing his slider.
However, Morosi does note that the Blue Jays are seeking at least one top rotation prospect and one who's close to the majors.
And the conundrum the Twins are in, is that of their three top pitching prospects, none are necessarily close to the majors.
Brusader Graterol, Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran are currently the Twins' top three pitching prospects.
Graterol was probably considered the closest as his numbers have been dominant across his minor league career (2.51 ERA across 200 minor league innings) but he was placed on the 7-day Injured list in late May at Double-A Pensacola and hasn't pitched since.
Balazovic has risen from the organization's 19th-best prospect in the preseason to No. 5 by mid-season. Between Ceder Rapids and Fort Myers – so Single-A and A+ – he's 7-4 with a 2.78 ERA in 74 innings, with 101 strikeouts and 20 walks surrendered.
Duran's spent all season in Fort Myers and has yielded impressive results. In 15 games (14 starts) Duran owns an ERA of 3.16 in 74 innings, with 90 strikeouts to just 28 walks.
So even though all three pitchers have stellar numbers, they won't be pitching in the majors this season and likely not in 2020 either. Meaning the Twins would likely have to sweeten the return to swing a deal for Stroman.
If Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff are untouchable, Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker and even Luis Arraez all could be included in an offer for Stroman.
Stroman is under team control through 2020, so he could be useful to the Twins for 2019 and beyond.
His teammate and reliever Ken Giles is also an arm that could interest the Twins. In 33 innings, Giles has punched out 57 batters and owns an ERA of 1.64 and would bolster a weakened bullpen.
With the Twins' 40-man roster still at 36 players, they have vacancies to fill on their roster.
Time will tell, but it's certainly looking like the Twins are positioning themselves to add by the July 31 MLB Trade Deadline.