After reading that headline, you probably think I'm insane.
Maybe I am.
But I believe that with just 50 games left in the major league baseball season, Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker will lead our Twins to a Central Division championship. And before you crucify me and call me a bleeding-heart homer-idiot-stupid head, consider that the Minnesota offense ranks ninth in the MLB and sixth in the American League. The hitting is there, but can the pitching get up to snuff in time?
Of our remaining schedule, we play 60% of the games against teams with sub-.500 records. And that against such teams (CLE, KC, TOR, BAL, OAK), our pitching staff looks like this:
Vs. teams with sub-.500 records, 2009
Liriano - 41 IP, 4.17 ERA… the recent setback vs. Cleveland pushed his ERA over the 4.00 mark. Otherwise, he's had some very good starts. And I KNOW you remember how he finished 2008 (if you don't, let me help… August 3-September 21 - 61 IP, 2.05 ERA, 1.076 WHIP, 55 Ks). This is the same pitcher with a worse mindset. He's not hurt. A couple of solid starts could get him rolling.
Blackburn - 51 IP, 4.94 ERA… majorly affected by last night's blowout vs. KC and the implosion in Oakland a couple weeks back.
Pavano - 41-2/3 IP, 7.52 ERA… funny, Pavano can't pitch against bad teams, but has been magnificent against the likes of Detroit (30 IP, 1.48 ERA), Chicago (22-1/3, 2.42 ERA), Boston (6 IP, 2 ER) and New York (13-1/3, 2.70 ERA). I will now skip any sort of analysis, because this could be beyond explanation. Either way, I call it a wash, because 13 of our 20 remaining games vs. teams with above-.500 records are against CWS and DET. The thought is that he should be good enough not to get pounded by those same bad teams the rest of the season while remaining proficient against the Pale Hose and Motor City Kitties.
Swarzak - 22 - 2/3 IP, 4.37 ERA… he's really been up and down all year anyway. I don't trust him and I don't trust Perkins.
Baker - 53-2/3 IP, 3.83 ERA… if anyone thrives on bad-hitting teams, it's Baker. He'll strike 'em out and put up zeroes through most of his outings.
I think I just talked myself into a division title. Did I talk you into it?
A few hitting notes…
- On his current five-game hitting streak, Delmon Young is batting .333 with two home runs and four RBI.
- Since July 31 (10 games), Joe Mauer is batting .476 with two doubles, three home runs and 12 RBI. Over that same span, Justin Morneau has gone the other way a bit, hitting just .220 with two homers, two doubles and eight RBI.
- In August, Nick Punto and Alexi Casilla have combined for seven hits in 40 at bats (.175) while a very capable counterpart - Brendan Harris - is 5-for-15 with a homer this month.
- Joe Crede should be back in the lineup today.
Thanks for reading! Have a great day!