Game Time - 7:10 CDT
I always like our chances best when Jose Berrios is on the mound. If there's an All-Star on this team this year, he gets my vote. In 14 starts Berrios has won seven and lost just two. He has a very respectable 3.56 ERA (almost perfectly in line with his 3.57 FIP) which translates into a 115 ERA+, and he has a nice low 1.092 WHIP. For every walk he gives up he strikes out about four batters, and he's fairly stingy with the long ball, giving up just 1.1 home runs every nine innings. He coaxes two ground balls for every fly ball he gives up, and batters are hitting just .227 against him. If there's room for improvement, I'd like to see him go deeper into games than just six innings per start, and when he's not missing bats his 38.2% hard hit rate could be lower, although it should come as no surprise that Twins pitchers as a group have the absolute worst hard hit rate in baseball this year at 43.8%. Add it all up and Berrios delivers a 1.2 WPA, which isn't elite class but it's not bad for a small market ace. He just consistently gives this team its best opportunities to win ballgames.
Looking over his stats today I stumbled across one in particular that I never gave much attention before - base/out runs saved, abbreviated as RE24 which I have yet to figure out why. So far this year Berrios has 9.2 base/out runs saved. League average is set at zero, so if I understand this stat correctly in 14 games Berrios has saved the team slightly more than 9 runs with his situational pitching, and that's enough of a margin to be the difference between winning and losing. By way of comparison, Kevin Gausman of the Giants leads MLB with a 29.9 RE24 (alongside a .889 winning percentage and a ridiculous 1.49 ERA). I thought it would be fun to check this stat in aggregate for our bullpen (fun in the scare-the-shit-out-of-me-so-we-can-all-laugh-about-it sense), but then I decided it would be too much like work and there are some ratholes you're just better off leaving unexplored.
Cleveland is well-positioned as a strong contender to win the division this year, nine games above .500 and just 2.5 games back of Chicago. They'll trot out rookie righthander J.C. Mejia for the start today. He sports a 1-2 record and a 6.11 ERA over four starts and seven appearances. In 17 and 2/3 innings he's given up 12 runs, all earned, on 17 hits and five walks (1.245 WHIP), and he's also notched 16 strikeouts, so he looks like a youngster with some potential. That'll have to do for now, I have to spend the rest of the day keeping the dog from eating the kitten. Play ball!