I'm actually happy that the Brewers are doing well, just not so happy that they've done so at the expense of the Twins this weekend. A quarter of the way through the season, the Twins are below .500, tied for second in the division at 2.5 games back and 6 games out of the wild card hunt, which doesn't seem likely to include the AL Central at this point. Starting catcher Jason Castro is gone for the season. Joe Mauer is on the DL with a neck strain and concussion-like symptoms. Miguel Sano is also on the DL, but started a rehab assignment with Rochester yesterday. Among the healthy players, Buxton, Wilson, Morrison and Adrianza are all hitting near or south of the Mendoza line. Garver, Kepler, Dozier and Grossman are hitting .250 or below. I'm not unhappy with the quality of starting pitching, but the rotation remains fairly inefficient, notching just 210.2 innings over 39 games - just a smidgen over five inning per start (I didn't include Hughes' 2 starts because he'll never be a starting pitcher). Meanwhile, the bullpen has been just bad enough to keep us from contending in the late innings of too many games. Overall, the pitching staff sports a 4.54 ERA (96 ERA+), 4.53 FIP, 1.39 WHIP, and a 2.27 K/BB ratio. On the mound today, Jake Odorizzi (3-2, 3.35 ERA) takes the ball for the Twins, while Junior Guerra (3-3, 3.08 ERA) will sling for the Brewers.
Hang onto your hats, gentlemen. Today's tilt features a match-up of two rookie hurling phenoms. In this corner, weighing in with a 3-1 record, a 4.10 ERA, and a 0.4 WAR is Shohei Ohtani. In the other corner, sporting a 2-0 record, and a 0.8 WAR, undefeated and unscored upon, Fernando Romero. It's only my humble opinion, but I'll put it out there - these are the two most exciting young pitchers in baseball at the moment. My brother-in-law in Orange will be in the stands today - wish I could join him. Play ball!
There’s little room for argument that Kyle Gibson has been a frustrating pitcher to watch, and probably to coach, over his four full major league seasons. Brilliant one start and seemingly brain-dead the next, far too often nibbling away his advantage after getting ahead in counts, and never seeming to trust his best stuff in tough situations despite ample evidence that he can and should. But we may be witnessing a metamorphosis of sorts with Gibby and this could be a breakout season for the 31-year old Hoosier, with the normal caveat about staying healthy.
Late last year Gibson finally started to show some confidence and consistency on the mound and finished the season strong. His Achilles heel continues to be inefficiency as he’s only averaged 5 1/3 innings per start this season despite notching impressive performance stats, to wit a 3.38 ERA (good for a 129 ERA+) that's nicely in line with his 3.42 FIP. He’s allowed only two long balls in 32 innings and pitched to a meager .212 opponent batting average while maintaining a low 1.28 WHIP. And he’s been an effective control and ground ball pitcher, tallying 36 strikeouts with a 2.25 K/BB ratio and 1.57 grounders for every fly ball struck. All told it’s been worth 0.9 WAR from Gibson through April.
Opposing Gibson today is James Shields, who has struggled some out of the gate to a 1-3 record. His 5.35 ERA and 4.73 FIP indicate he’s been a bit unlucky and the Pale Hose have lost five of his seven starts, four of them by a single run. Twins on the current roster have 200 at bats against Shields with a respectable slash line of .260/.323/.465/.788. Dozier especially has feasted, sporting a .333 average and 1.224 OPS against Shields, who has contributed just 0.2 WAR for the Southsiders this year.
Enough with the egghead stats already, this game happens on a field, not a spreadsheet. Play ball!
In baseball, there are real-deals, wannabes, and has-beens. But some players fall into a different category, the what-could-have-beens. After nearly a year on the disabled list, Phil Hughes makes his return to a major league mound today. One can't help but wonder what his career would have been like had he not been plagued with injuries. When healthy, he's been very, very good, but his career feels like one long series of rude interruptions. 2014 was without a doubt his best year; he won 16 games with a 3.52 ERA and a thoroughly ridiculous 11.67 K/BB ratio while garnering seven Cy Young award votes. I'm too old and jaded to expect Hughes to return to his 2014 form, I don't think anyone does. But if he can stay healthy and throw 160 innings or so he can still be a significant rotation asset for this team. Tampa sends right-hander Yonny Chirinos to the hill, he's got an ERA of 2.70 and 15 strikeouts, but he got touched for five runs in his last outing after pitching 14.1 scoreless frames over his first three starts. Play ball!
's.I'm looking at my AtBat app and it's telling me today's game is postponed due to inclement weather. I'm looking out my window and don't see any precipitation falling in any form. I'm looking at my weather app and the radar shows the snow won't even start falling until 4:00 pm or so. If this game is really postponed, somebody screwed the pooch on the call.
hj: sorry, gonna hijack this post. like one of those weird bugs that eats a fish's tongue then takes the tongue's place. nibbs, spoonto, you should check those out.
Okay, how do you do this again? Just put the words in this box thing and press enter? Wait. Is there a button to click or anything? Oh, hell. Don't worry, I'll get the hang of this again eventually. Berrios on the mound today, I'm expecting great things. Play ball!
Jose Berrios (2-7, 8.61 ERA, 46 K, 1.913 WHIP )
Chris Sale (17-9, 3.21 ERA, 227 K, 1.026 WHIP)
A summary of the Twins' 2016 season, in Tamarian:
Kira at Bashi. Gemini; Uzani, his army when the grass grows. The beast at Tanagra. Kadir beneath Mo Moteh, Kiteo his eyes closed. Zima and Bakor. Zinda, his face black, his eyes red. Shaka, when the walls fell. Darmok on the ocean - Kiazi's children, their faces wet. Sokath, his eyes open. Kailash, when it rises. Darmok and Jalad on the ocean.
I just flew home from San Antonio and boy are my arms tired. Gibson pitches today, so be prepared to see him throw 25 nibblers an inning and hit the showers after 4 or 5. Not that it matters much since our bullpen can't hold a lead to save their frigging lives. This Twins team has a lot of position talent, but the pitching is a damn landfill fire.
If Corey Kluber were to have any pitching advice to offer Jose Berrios, I imagine it would go something like: "Trust your stuff. Work fast, throw strikes, change speeds. And don't let so many fucking guys on base."