“If he were to punch you in the face, you would have to fight off the urge to thank him. He’s the most interesting man in the world.” I get a kick out of the Dos Equis commercials featuring “the most interesting man in the world”. They’re sometimes a little confusing, but they nearly always make me think – then laugh. I get the same emotions when I think of the most interesting player in the Twins organization: Sam Deduno.
Much has been made of his stellar performance over the course of the last 3 weeks in the World Baseball Classic. In his last two starts he helped lead his team to victories over the United States and Puerto Rico – the latter to seal the championship for his country. Only Kenta Maeda of Japan pitched more innings than Deduno and gave up 1 run or less in the WBC. Deduno made 3 appearances, went 2-0 in 13 innings pitched. He gave up 11 hits and just 1 run (a bases loaded walk against the US), striking out 17 batters.
As Parker Hageman masterfully pointed out today, Deduno went to his bread and butter more often than not to get hitters out in the WBC. We’re not talking about his dynamite fastball that has more movement on it than what the Dos Equis guy could throw. He threw his curveball – what seems like the one pitch he can control – when he needed to make a great pitch. He still managed to walk 5 batters in his 13 innings (3.46 BB/9), which is actually just over half of what his walk rate was in 2012 with the Twins (6.0).
The problem here is that we are looking at a 13 inning sample size of Deduno pitching against many no-quite Major League level hitters, and also guys that have probably never faced him before. I imagine stepping into the box against him for the first time can get a little dicey with how much movement his pitches have. He is going to have his days where he finds the strike zone on occasion and dominates. Last August he gave up 11 hits and 7 runs in 5 innings against Texas. Five days later he pitched 7 innings against Seattle. That day he allowed just 2 hits, walked no one, and struck out 9. He’s like the second coming of Francisco Liriano. You just never know what you’re going to get.
Because he can be effectively wild, Deduno can also – like Liriano – act as a high strike out guy they’ve been looking for in the rotation. However, despite his high strike out totals in the WBC and at Rochester last year (9.9 K/9), he struck out only 6.5 batters per nine innings for the Twins. The hitters are just better at the MLB level. They’re more patient, they make better contact, and they put hours in studying the pitchers they will face every day.
For these reasons I just don’t think you can put him in the rotation on a regular basis. It is a long season, and pitchers will get hurt. In fact with the injury histories of our current list of starters, there’s a good chance that most of them will spend time on the DL from time to time. Deduno will get his shot to spot-start, or maybe come up for a month at a time. Over a long season though, 200 innings with the Twins I’m afraid would turn into a train wreck. Deduno is 29 and has a career BB ratio of 5.1/9, so I don’t think this is something where you can say there is much room for improvement. He is who he is, and I hope he proves me wrong. For now, each time he takes the mound, he will be the most interesting man in the world.
Follow Twins Rubes on Twitter @twinsrubes.