Posted on: August 13, 2008 12:10 pm

Guerrier Gone Wild

I hope I never have to use Matt Guerrer in a headline again, but the way he's pitching right now is downright infuriating. I mentioned he had a disgusting 17.38 ERA in his past seven outings on yesterday's post... it's now up to 19.08 in his past 5 2/3 innings - eight outings - after allowing Alex Rodriguez and Xavier Nady to pop homers off him in the top of the 12th inning last night. It'd be one thing if Guerrier was allowing runs at an alarming rate in a mop-up role, but he's pitching important innings for the Twins and blowing games left and right. It wasn't just Guerrier last night though - Blackburn (6 hits, 3 BB, 4 ER) gave up a leadoff homer to Johnny Damon and struggled through 4 2/3 innnings, Bonser let in a run, and Jesse Crain coughed up one as well. An ugly, but still winnable game.

Joe Mauer was a late scratch last night with a stiff neck. No one seems to know how it happened, but he's questionable for the game today. The Twins missed his bat in key spots last night - the team left 10 men on base. Justin Morneau went 0-for-4 with a walk, and his similarly absent bat didn't help.

I'll try to focus on something more positive though. Delmon Young (3-for-5, 3 RBI) is waking up... when you hit a three-run shot off Marino Rivera, something is going right. That's two homers in his past four games and a .311/.351/.461 with six home runs and 30 battitng line since June 1 (51 games). Hopefully he can keep it going, because Michael Cuddyer ain't walkin' through the door anytime soon. And if he does, he'll be wearing an air cast on his right foot, so it won't help the team anyway. By the way, Adam Everett (1-for-4) got a hit again!

The Twins run it back vs. New York today in the rubber match. It's Kevin Slowey (8-8, 4.07 ERA) vs. Darrell Rasner (5-8, 5.28 ERA). Let's hope we catch the Yanks sleeping and win our second series in a row before welcoming Seattle back into town this weekend.

Minor League Notes:
  • They're still going... Jason Pridie (3-for-6) and Alejandro Machado (1-for-5) kept their respective 19 and 21-game hitting streaks intact.
  • Phil Humber is finally in a groove for Triple-A Rochester, pitching like we thought he would at this level. Last night, Humber struck out 11 batters over 7 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits in the outing. Since coming back from a three-week bullpen stint, Humber has a 3.16 ERA, 1.245 WHIP and 36 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings.
  • Fort Myers reliever Anthony Slama continues to dominate High-A competition, as he boasts a sub-1.00 ERA and 13.92 K/9 IP. He's got a tidy little 0.953 WHIP as well.
  • On a current six-game hitting streak, 1B Rene Leveret is now hitting 10-for-24 (.416) with two home runs and 14 RBI. Oh yeah, and he went 2-for-5 with a homer and five RBI last night.
  • Mike McCardell of the Beloit Snappers (Low-A) kept the mojo going once again, striking out 10 batters over eight dominant innings to pick up his second win in a row and move to 9-3 on the year. He gave up just three hits and two runs - all in the first inning - before shutting down the Peoria bats. McCardell has a 1.86 ERA over his past four outings.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the noon game today!
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 21, 2008 5:04 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2008 6:59 pm

Opening Day (for me)

It's Monday, and the Twins are twelve games above .500 at 55-43 so far. I'm still shocked that they're in contention, but when you look at how well the pitching staff has performed, it makes sense.

I mean, when Santana and Silva were moved, the question we asked ourselves was, "How in the world are we going to compete with these bunch of drooling, barely potty-trained starters?". The funny thing is that Francisco Liriano has nothing to do with our success this season. As a matter of fact, if we would have let him rot in Triple-A for the first four months of the year, he would have never imploded and cost the team wins. Minnesota could be 57-41 right now (or even a little better...)! Just a quick glance at the stat book tells me that that the Twins pitching has been solid not only in an accumulation of stats in 2008, but over the past few weeks as well. Baker, Perkins, Slowey, Hernandez and Blackburn have a combined 3.34 ERA over their past 15 total starts. Pretty amazing stuff. Compare that with their 4.03 ERA on the year, and things have actually gotten better.

With all this in mind, we come to the entire reason why I'm writing today - Francisco Liriano. His well-documented start to the season scared the life out of Twins fans, but a resurgent past couple of weeks in Triple-A have our hearts a-twitter. And for good reason, too... the guy logged 20 scoreless innings, fanning 24 batters over that span. Then this past Monday, he went eight innings and struck out eight batters, allowing just one run. For those of you counting at home, that's a 0.32 ERA matched up with sick 10.28 K/9 and 0.174 WHIP peripherals. The question isn't if he's ready, but when.

The answer isn't easy, and it's the very thing that GM Bill Smith and the Twins front office continue to debate. Is Livan Hernandez too much of a "glue guy" to send packing? Should we move one of the other younger starters to the bullpen? It seems as if the answer is simply to wait. Wait and see if Liriano can dominate with consistency - hit his spots, throw that nasty slider with authority and continue to go deep into games. Wait and see if Livan will finally go into the tank and deem himself worthy of removal. Wait and see if Perkins, Blackburn or Slowey's wheels start to fall off. My solution: Send down Bonser (terrible in relief), bring up Liriano and move Blackburn to the bullpen. Maybe you disagree, but it seems like the move that will a) Rock the boat the least, b) Help the team the most. And that's really what we're looking for, right?

A couple of notes:

  • No one's talking about Anthony Slama, so I'm going to do it now. He's a 24-year-old closer at Fort Myers, and he's the most dominant pitcher in baseball (stats-wise/pound-for-pound). In 53 innings of relief, he's got 87 strikeouts (other-worldly 14.77 K/9) and a ridiculous 0.68 ERA. On top of that, the guy is holding opposing batters to a .168 average. I need an explanation as to why he's not been moved up. A little overdue, if you ask me.
  • Secondly, Ben Revere (remember the undersized CF that would NEVER play in the Majors, according to scouts) is hitting .400 at Low-A Beloit. Kid is mashing, raking, destroying and killing the ball. Keep your eye on him!
  • Last, Luke Hughes, who I've been in love with all year, is back from that DL stint and has gone 0-for-9 in his past two games combined. The batting average is still at .316 and his OBP is a solid .387. If not for injury, he'd be at Triple-A Rochester by now. Thanks for reading, and I'll hopefully be posting more often if more than one person reads this. Have an awesome day, and BEAT THE Yankees!!! Game time is 6:05 CST and we've got Blackburn vs. Ponson.
Thanks for reading today!
Category: MLB
Tags: Liriano, Slama
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