BALTIMORE — It’s time for the Twins to get a look at the latest version of Kyle Gibson, their most enigmatic pitcher of the past five years. Each year the righthander tries to address his inconsistent results, outcomes that never seem to match his ability, and each year hope is raised that Gibson is ready to take a big step forward.
Gibson’s spring was encouraging — he posted a 3.55 ERA, exactly the mark he managed over the final two months of 2017 — but then again, that’s been true before. “It’s kind of hard to gauge in spring training how that’s going to carry over,” manager Paul Molitor said. “He has just learned over time that probably his better performances are when his fastball is his best weapon. Yes, he’s got the change and the slider and the curve. But they seem to really feed off his ability to throw the fastball and have confidence with it.”
Confidence is big, the missing ingredient so frequently, Molitor believes. Gibson
“He’s a real confident pitcher, but maybe he hasn’t always been that way. Sometimes it’s results-oriented and sometimes it’s maybe just overthinking,” Molitor said. “We all know that Kyle like to really analyze, maybe to a fault, the best game plan each and every day. You see him get off the mound once in a while and you see the smoke coming out [of his ears]. He’s trying to figure out what’s the best pitch to throw in each situation, but sometimes you’ve just got to trust it and let it go.”
Jake Odorizzi used a fastball-centric approach to six shutout innings on Saturday, Molitor noted, and “hopefully [Gibson] took some notes from that day.”
Here are the lineups for the season’s first night game, at chilly (50 degrees and falling) Camden Yards: