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40 in 40: Joey Gerber

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Deep thoughts with a Minnesotan

Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics
Season 4 of Cobra Kai really deviated a lot from the source material
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

You may have missed it or not thought much of it, but Jerry Dipoto threw a little shade at the stable of homegrown relievers during his media session on this past Tuesday.

We had set a pretty low bar. Our bullpen has really been an area of struggle over these past two years. We feel like we’re starting to build some stability into a bullpen that really hasn’t been very stable. We feel like we’ve gone a long way toward making that a more reliable unit. And some of them have taken the opportunity and run with it—Anthony Misiewicz being one of them.

So, shoutout to Misiewicz aside, this feels like a coded “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed” message to guys like Joey Gerber, who got his first shot at MLB action during the shortened 2020 season after two impressive seasons in the minors as a reliever. But, Gerber’s progress didn’t quite continue as hoped last season. It wasn’t a disaster, or a particularly large sample size at 15.2 innings pitched either, but the results weren’t anything to write home to Minnesota about.

per FanGraphs

Gerber has a unique, rapid-motion kind of wind-up and delivery. It’s all elbows and wrists and flailing limbs. Staff writer and draftee scouting report maven Joe Doyle is much better at this sort of thing than I am, so I’m just going to quote his report on Gerber from when he was called up last August.

Gerber’s best attribute might be his delivery. It’s a quick crossfire move with lots of funk. The ball looks like it explodes right out of his shoulder. The arm action is very, very short — akin to Max Scherzer of the Nationals. It’s a really tough operation for batters to track, and an uneasy plate appearance as pretty much nothing comes out of his hand straight.

Also from Joe, on that nasty Gerber fastball like the one above:

The fastball is certainly Gerber’s best offering, and he can manipulate it how he sees fit. It’s a 2500-2600 RPM heater with ride and run up in the zone, occasionally showing sink at the bottom of the zone. The horizontal and vertical movement he gets on his fastball is pretty hellish for right-handed batters, especially as it comes from a place of pretty extreme deception.

Thanks, Joe!

Gerber’s approach served him well up through the minors, but MLB hitters were not intimidated by and large. His numbers remained respectable due to a fortunate strand rate of 62.5%, but his K/9 rate absolutely plummeted (again, small sample) to 3.45 after hanging in the low-to-mid teens throughout his time in the minors. If Gerber can’t overpower hitters at the major league level, then he’ll have to increasingly rely on his ground ball-inducing game, which is always quite risky for relievers when thrown into tight situations. It’s a bit worrisome on the surface level, but he’s still young and still has time to adjust and figure things out.

MLB: AUG 12 Mariners at Rangers Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Gerber is, as mentioned, from Minnesota and grew up not far from fellow Mariners pitching prospect Sam Carlson. If you happen to follow Gerber on Instagram or Twitter, you know his social media presence is...peculiar among athletes. More of a Jon Bois/non sequitur vibe than a #RiseNGrind typical athlete kind of deal. Without further ado, I’m just going to leave you with a totally subjective ranking of his best social media moments, David Letterman style.

10. Huge, if true (Also, I must point out his ludicrous twitter handle, @GERB_NATION. Just fantastic work there).

9. Common sense, really.

8. Dad joke timeout, Joey.

7. This caption.

6. I think he was trying to mess with his friends back home who are not accustomed to such expansive bodies of water.

5. Deep thoughts with Joey Gerber, folks.

4. Asking the big questions here.

3. Really trolling his friends back home with the omission of Caribou Coffee here.

2. A stoic, scotchy Christmas from the Gerber Bros, spared no expense with those chairs....and that (squints) shrub?

h/t to Kate Preusser for the screenshot

1. No notes, just (chef’s kiss).

One final note, in case you missed it last summer, Gerber was a guest on the illustrious LL podcast and shared some entertaining insights on life during the pandemic season.