The One Glairing Issue with Kyle Gibson

The Minnesota Twins took Kyle Gibson in the first round of the 2009 Draft and he quickly became one of the better pitching prospects in baseball.

Now through 61 career starts in just his second full Major League season, the 27-year old hurler is 23-24 with a 4.42 ERA. He’s gotten noticeably better each year. Gibson posted an ERA above six in ten starts during the 2013 season and then a 4.47 ERA last year. Through 20 starts in 2015, the former Missouri Tiger is 8-8 with a 3.48 ERA. This leaves a lot of hope for Gibson to really help Minnesota going forward as he enters the prime of his career.

He’s been a stable player in the middle of the Twins rotation this year but something is holding him back from becoming one of the top starters on the staff. Gibson has struggled mightily against the better teams across the Majors since his first day as a big leaguer.

It has often been labeled as inconsistency. Gibson has 12 starts in 2014 where he allowed five earned runs or more but another 14 outings where he allowed one or zero earned runs. This year has only been more of the same, with a number of ace-like outings only to be weighed down by starts like yesterday’s 7-2 loss against the New York Yankees. On Sunday, Gibson went five and a third with six earned runs.

He has a 4.82 ERA in seven starts against team’s who are top ten league wide in runs scored this year. Gibson has a 2.78 ERA in his 13 remaining starts against teams who don’t boast one of the league’s top 10 offensive attacks. He also has a 2-5 record against division leaders so far this season. These are trends that carry all the way back to 2013, his rookie season.

Should the Twins continue their strong play and make the playoffs, Gibson will need to be more than the team’s third starter with Ervin Santana ineligible for the postseason.

Gibson might wind up struggling in the playoffs. He struggles to string together strong outings against the best teams the league has to offer and those are the only teams that he’ll wind up seeing in October.

Gibson is a very good pitcher to have, especially when he isn’t looked on as one of your top two starters. He gives the Twins the opportunity to win more often than not and anybody with a sub-3.50 ERA through 20 starts has to be regarded as a capable Major League starter.

But after having high hope for Gibson when he was shooting up the minor league ranks, it would be a huge plus for Minnesota if he could join Phil Hughes and Santana at the top of the rotation. With 23 starts of allowing one or no earned runs in the past two years, he clearly has the ability to do it but the one last step he needs to take is finding a way to beat the league’s best teams.

He has allowed 12 earned runs in his two starts since the All-Star break, coming against the Yankees and Los Angeles Angles, two of the league’s better lineups. His next scheduled start is next week against the Seattle Mariners but then after that he’ll probably have to face the Toronto Blue Jays, who lead the league in runs scored.

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