In case you were wondering, Jose Berrios is not worried.
The righthander lasted only 5 1/3 innings on Thursday and has given up at least four earned runs in each of his past four outings. There's a search party embarking to find his curveball, and his ERA over his last four starts is 8.83.
It's not the Berrios the Twins saw at the start of the season, when he looked like one of the best young pitchers in the game.
"I know who I am," he said. "I'm Jose Berrios. I work every day to help the team win a lot of games."
It sure didn't happen on Thursday in the Twins' 7-4 loss to the Angels. Berrios put the Twins in a 4-0 hole before the offense woke up and tied the game in the sixth. But the Angels scored twice off of Ryan Pressly in the sixth and Shohei Ohtani homered off of Trevor Hildenberger in the seventh to put the game away.
Some on Twitter were grumbling about Twins manager Paul Molitor removing Berrios with out in the sixth — especially when Pressly came in and gave up the go-ahead runs. But Molitor saw what we all saw — Berrios did not have his nasty breaking ball and it was affecting how he worked the Angels hitters. So he was removed after 78 pitches thrown.
"Jose was having, I thought, a tough night," Molitor said. "We had him on a short leash, at that point. His breaking ball, I think he was afraid to use it after hanging it a couple of times, and he was trying to get by with his fastball, primarily."
He hung a curveball in Chicago during his previous outing too, giving up a 434-foot home run to White Sox slugger Jose Abreu. Berrios said he had a good curveball in the bullpen Thursday but admitted things can change once someone steps in the batter's box. It wasn't the curveball he usually throws and he has to figure out what he needs to do to get it back.
When he's on, the ball is moving right as well as up and down, and it gives hitters fits. Without it, he tried to throw more fastballs on Thursday and probably got a little predictable.
Berrios didn't get a single swing-and-miss with his his curveball on Thursday. In April — when he was rolling — his whiff percentage was 20.6 percent, according to Brooks Baseball.
"It's something I have to keep learning," he said. "When I have it on, it is on. My last four starts, I haven't been able to throw it over the plate like I'm used to. I'm going to keep working on it."
Twins catcher Mitch Garver said Berrios' curveball wasn't sharp, but felt the righthander was influenced by some ball-strike calls by home plate umpire Larry Vanover. Berrios was not getting the low strike (I remember a pitch down the middle at the knees to Mike Trout in the first inning that was called a ball). Berrios' issues might be mental as much as physical.
"The zone affected how he threw his pitches tonight," Garver said. "Because he didn't get those pitches in the first inning, he started aiming it. When he aims his curveball, it is not as affective as when he throws it like he can."
The offense didn't get going until the middle of the game, and the bullpen couldn't hold the score at 4-4. But the biggest issue from Thursday's game is where in the world is Jose's curveball.