Bob Gibson had one of the greatest seasons for a pitcher in MLB history in 1968, posting an almost unfathomable 1.12 ERA during “The Year of the Pitcher.” In 1969, the mound was lowered in part because of just how dominant Gibson was the year before.
But as good as he was, Gibson at his best in 1968 was not as good as a different Gibson has been at his best in 2014.
In the 22 games Bob Gibson won that season, he posted a 0.57 ERA.
In the 12 games Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson has either won (nine) or earned a no-decision (three) this season, he has posted a 0.55 ERA.
The difference, of course, comes in the losses. Bob Gibson had a 2.14 ERA in nine losses. Kyle Gibson, in eight losses? 12.27 ERA.
It’s an almost unfathomable disparity between good and bad for the Twins hurler, which continued Tuesday when he tossed seven shutout innings one start after being tagged for six earned runs. The balance of it adds up to a good first full season as a starter, as he is 9-8 with a 3.94 ERA.
Gibson, though, is basically unhittable in 12 starts that resulted in wins or no decisions and historically bad in the other eight starts.
He has eight starts in which he finished with at least six innings pitched and zero earned runs allowed. He also has four starts in which he didn’t make it past three innings and allowed at least five earned runs every time.
Making it even more perplexing is the fact that Gibson can’t pinpoint much of a difference between the good outings and the bad ones beyond a few good pitches in key moments and working ahead in the count.
“It’s just a small difference,” he told the Star Tribune’s Phil Miller after Tuesday’s game. “Obviously the boxscore says a lot different, but a lot of the outings that I’ve struggled in, I’ve gone back and looked at. And I frustratingly don’t feel like I was too far away from having a good outing.”
Maybe it’s a question of command, — when he has it he is great and when he misses with his location he gets hammered. Maybe it’s just one of those fluky set of circumstances. Maybe as time goes on, he’ll get nicked for a couple of runs during his best outings but limit the damage when he lacks his best stuff.
For now, though, this is what is known: “Good” Kyle Gibson can be compared favorably to a Hall of Fame pitcher with the same last name, and “Bad” Kyle Gibson doesn’t belong in the majors.