The Minnesota Twins needed pitching badly to compete in the tough AL Central, so they decided to flip reigning American League batting champion Luis Arraez to fetch a competent starter.
That pitcher ended up being Pablo Lopez, formerly of the Miami Marlins.
Lopez will be a frontline rotation option for a Twins team that, if several situations break right, could be contending for the division crown this upcoming season.
Now, Lopez is already a good pitcher: he has a career 3.94 ERA with a 3.77 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), and the numbers were 3.75 and 3.71 in 2022.
Last year, he struck out 174 hitters in 180 innings, and his WHIP was a really solid 1.17.
But he wants to take a step forward in his development, and the Twins are certainly not complaining.
“Based on the Statcast pitch data, it seemed like Pablo López was throwing two different types of curveballs today. One was a traditional curveball and one was a ‘sweeper’ with a lot more horizontal break,” The Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman tweeted.
Based on the Statcast pitch data, it seemed like Pablo López was throwing two different types of curveballs today.
One was a traditional curveball and one was a "sweeper" with a lot more horizontal break.
I asked López about it and he confirmed he's been working on the sweeper. pic.twitter.com/vsq1KdEFFe
— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) March 5, 2023
Per Gleeman, Lopez has confirmed that he is working on a pair of breaking balls, one with a more traditional 12-6 trajectory, and another one with more horizontal movement, like a slider-curveball hybrid.
This will keep hitters guessing at all times and give him more weapons to succeed at the highest level.
If Lopez can command these two types of breaking balls, he could take another step and take his ERA to the low or mid-3.00s.
It’s certainly worth doing, in a league that continually requires pitchers to make adjustments on a year-to-year basis just to keep themselves competitive.NEXT: The Twins Have A Healthy Dose Of Starting Pitching