By: Abby Altman
In recent history, very few teams have struggled with pitching as much as the Minnesota Twins. In 2021, the Twins were 26th in combined ERA, and 25th for starting pitchers. But nearly 1 month into the 2022 season, as of April 28th, the Twins are 9th in ERA, with a 3.21 average, and their starting pitchers rank 2nd in ERA with a 2.36 average, just behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.
This new pitching success is propelled by rookie Joe Ryan. The Twins acquired Ryan from the Tampa Bay Rays in 2021, in a trade for Nelson Cruz.
Joe Ryan was the starting pitcher in game 1 for team USA in the 2020 Olympics (held in 2021). Ryan pitched 10 innings in the Olympics, allowing 9 hits and just 2 runs, accompanied by 8 strikeouts. He finished his time in Tokyo with a 1.74 ERA.
Ryan’s Olympic success is just one reason that the Twins announced Joe Ryan as the 2022 opening day starter, a week before game 1 against the Mariners.
Ryan had just 5 career major league starts before this season, where his pitching was nearly untouchable.
“I think the big leagues is a little bit different than other levels, so there’s probably going to be more pressure in certain situations,” Ryan said. “But at the end of the day, I think last year I just learned it’s still the same game. There’s great hitters up there. Don’t make mistakes. Execute your pitches and it’s still baseball. I’m there for a reason, too.”
There certainly was a good reason that manager Rocco Baldelli chose Ryan to open the season, being the first rookie to do so for the Twins since 1969.
Ryan held the Mariners to 2 runs, earned off of a 2 run home run in the 1st inning. The Twins offense was unable to provide run security, facing the reigning Cy Young winner Robbie Ray, handing Joe Ryan his 1st loss, 2-1.
Ryan and the Twins offense rebounded quickly. Ryan came back to pitch again against the Red Sox at Fenway Park a week later. Ryan pitched 6 innings, giving up 4 hits and only 1 run. Ryan also recorded 7 strikeouts in his first win.
Starting last week for his 3rd game, Joe Ryan has only improved. Ryan was the starting pitcher in game 2 against the Tigers, where the Twins took a 5-0 victory, in Joe Ryan’s first shutout game.
Backed by an excellent Twins defense, Ryan pitched 7 solid innings, allowing only 1 hit and 0 runs. Ryan recorded 9 strikeouts in his best game of the season.
Ryan’s most recent appearance on the mound was in game 2 against the Orioles. He pitched 4.2 innings, giving up 6 hits, 2 earned runs, and had 3 strikeouts.
Joe Ryan currently has a 1.63 ERA, which is the 10th lowest for pitchers in the MLB this season.
The “Joe Ryan Experience” as the Minnesota Twins call it, is exactly that. An experience. His pitches are located beautifully, his fastball ranges around 95 MPH, and he has his average exit velocity at just 68 MPH.
Joe Ryan’s rookie season is off to an excellent start, and the Twins and Minnesota fans are all hoping to see how Ryan progresses in his career.
Ryan will pitch again on Tuesday against the Astros.