Randy Dobnak has been a force for the Minnesota Twins in 2020.
Now with an opportunity to showcase his skill set as a fill-in in the starting rotation, Randy Dobnak is proving to be a valuable asset for the Minnesota Twins and potential key weapon in a possible World Series run.
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Undrafted out of Division-II Alderson Broaddus University in West Virginia, Dobnak began his professional career in the summer of 2017 with the Utica Unicorns of the United Shore Professional Baseball League, a four-team independent league located in Michigan.
By the end of that summer, Dobnak had a minor league contract in hand to join the Minnesota Twins organization, pitching to a 2.43 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, and 23 strikeouts in 33.1 combined innings between Rookie and A-ball in the minors.
Dobnak would spend all of 2018 in A-ball, going 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA across 24 games (20 starts), but the strikeouts weren’t there (84 in 129 IP) and while the repertoire worked well for him in the lower minors, a future role in the big leagues seemed unlikely for Dobnak.
That was until the addition of his noteworthy sinker and breakout 2019 campaign that saw Dobnak begin the year in High-A before working his way through Double-A and Triple-A and finishing the year in the majors.
The Twins were so impressed with Dobnak’s season, he was even named to the 2019 American League Divisional Series roster. In nine regular-season outings, Dobnak pitched to a 1.59 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and finished with a 23/5 K/BB ratio in 28.1 IP.
Within two years, Randy Dobnak went from an undrafted D-II pitcher to pitching in the playoffs against the New York Yankees.
Randy Dobnak has been lights out for the Minnesota Twins in 2020.
Now a full-time member of the Minnesota Twins pitching staff, Dobnak has been called upon to fill in as a starting pitcher as injuries pile up for the Twins and Michael Pineda finishes serving his suspension for failing a drug test late last season.
In three starts this year, Dobnak is 2-1 with a 0.60 ERA, allowing just one earned run across 15 innings, striking out eight and walking four. He has yet to allow a home run.
In his last outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Dobnak tossed six shutout innings, needing just 71 pitches to get the job done.
The strikeouts may still not be there for the 25-year-old righty, but Dobnak has produced a 68% groundball rate in 2020. With so much movement on his sinker, opposing hitters have struggled to drive the ball against him, helping to produce some noteworthy performances early on.
The big question is, can Randy Dobnak continue to pitch this effectively as a full-time starting pitcher? Luckily for the Minnesota Twins, they will have the opportunity to use him more selectively as the season progresses.
Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi, both All-Stars in 2019, sit at the top of the Twins rotation (Odorizzi returns from the IL on August 8th), with Kenta Maeda off to a very hot start in his first season in Minnesota falling in behind the All-Star duo.
The rest of the rotation will likely be filled out using a combination of Homer Bailey, Rich Hill, and Michael Pineda once everyone is healthy or returned from suspension. That’s not a bad group of arms and it’s certainly one of the deepest group of pitchers in the American League this year.
Now throw Randy Dobnak back in. Whether it’s making spot starts later this summer to give starters extra rest, piggybacking with guys like Pineda or Hill, or coming out of the bullpen with that elite groundball pitch, Dobnak can fill multiple roles for the Twins as this organization tries to get over that playoff hump and back into the World Series.
It’s a story that deserves a great amount of appreciation and, hopefully, Randy Dobnak can continue his success with the Minnesota Twins and get the chance to redeem himself in this year’s playoffs.