Pitcher preview: Kyle Gibson

Hannah Foslien

A groundball machine.

This isn't actually the first time the Rays have faced Kyle Gibson (they got to him for four runs off four hits and four walks last July), but the 26 year old is till new to the league. Gibson, a college pitcher out of the University of Missouri, missed much of the 2012 season with Tommy John Surgery, but has recovered well and pitched himself into the Twins rotation this Spring. He has yet to accumulate strikeoutsat the major league level, but given his minor league record and the quality of his stuff, it would be wishful thinking to decide that a 12% strikeout rate was his true talent.

What we do know about Gibson, though, is that he will force ground balls. Check out his pitches, and imagine them coming in on a downward plane from his long, 6' 6" frame.


via pitchfx.texasleaguers.com

The fastballs average in the low 90s, while the changeup and slider are in the low 80s. He's fairly traditional in that his changeup is there just to face lefties. With two strikes against batters on both of the plate, Gibson goes to his slider looking for the strikeout (40% of the time against righties, 22% of the time against lefties according to Brooks Baseball).

The main event here, though, is Gibson's two-seam fastball that has good sink. Both it and his changeup have produced a ground ball 60% of the time that they've been put in play, which gives him a career groundball rate over 50%.

Gibson works like the archetypal groundball pitcher. He gives hitters a steady diet of pitches down and away, often off the outside of the plate or below the knees.

Against lefties:

Against righties:

I'm not usually a proponent of the "don't be greedy and evil and try to pull the ball philosophy" that is so often repeated in baseball circles, but truly, this is going to be one of the days where the maxim applies. Take pitches when they're away and force Gibson to come into the zone. When he does, hit the ball where it's pitched. Also, hope you find the holes in the infield.

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