Strikeouts. ERA. Innings pitched. WAR. The numbers all reveal the same thing, that Kyle Gibson has gone from being shaky to a being a stalwart of the Twins rotation.
Gibson on Saturday churned through the White Sox lineup with ease, limiting them to one run over six innings, while the Twins buried Chicago 8-3 in their penultimate game of the season.
In six innings, Gibson held the White Sox to three hits and three walks while striking out seven. Gibson gave up a run in the first inning on a RBI single by Omar Narvaez before locking in and retiring 11 of 12 White Sox batters.
Gibson has had several stretches like this during his turnaround season.
After posting a 5.07 ERA in each of this previous two seasons, Gibson’s mark of 3.62 is the lowest of his career. He entered the game with a career-high strikeout rate of 8.1 per nine innings. His 196⅔ innings are a career high.
His WAR (wins above replacement) last season was 0.3. He entered Saturday with it at 3.5.
Gibson (10-13) has succeeded through solid command of four pitches and the ability to throw them to all quadrants of the strike zone. And something else.
“Overall it was just the mentality I was able to keep,” Gibson said. “Kind of the beauty of having your priorities straight and having a good, confident mentality is one start, whether it’s good or bad, isn’t going to take you too high or too low.”
Twins manager Paul Molitor admired the work.
“As a manager, you want as many guys in the rotation you feel will give you a chance each and every time they take the ball,” he said, “and Kyle certainly has done that this year.”
Farewell for No. 7?
Sunday could be the final game of Joe Mauer’s career, as he will ponder retirement during the offseason. Just in case he does hang them up, he has played in every game during this homestand — including both games of a doubleheader Friday.
Molitor confirmed after Saturday’s game that Mauer will start at first base on Sunday.
When asked if there was any chance Mauer would catch — for old time’s sake — one more time, Molitor said: “I don’t think you have to worry about that.”
Mauer is surging during the final week of the season, batting .429 during his eight-game hitting streak.
• The Twins have grounded into 88 double plays this season. Not only is that the fewest in baseball, it will be a club record for fewest in a season. The record is 93, achieved in 1965.
• Now pitcher Ervin Santana has injured his other middle finger. The righthander was moving a box recently when he banged his left hand. Santana, whose 2018 season was limited to 24⅔ innings because of surgery to remove calcium deposits from his right middle finger, now has a large bandage on his left middle finger. “When it’s very bad, it’s very bad,” Santana said.