Maybe Minnesota's Pitching Isn't That Bad?
Remember when I basically cried for 800 words about how bad the Minnesota Twins’ pitching staff was going to be? I WAS SO WRONG THAT IT HURTS. They are clearly the best staff ever, and three games is a large enough sample size to prove that. Duh.
Okay, so let’s calm the jets for a second and take a step back. Yes, it was a good series against a team that finished sixth in the American League in runs last year. And, yes, they were able to get contributions from some unexpected sources. But let’s first see if these types of performances should be expected as the year goes on.
Small Sample Size or Big Deal?
On Opening Day against the Detroit Tigers, Vance Worley went six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, one walk and three strikeouts. That’s about as “meh” as you can possibly get. Fortunately for the Twins, that was the worst start of the three.
Kevin Correia bettered that on Wednesday by going seven innings and allowing only two runs on seven hits and two strikeouts. Yes, this is the same Kevin Correia that has had a negative WAR four of the last five years. He kept the ball down in the zone (10 groundouts versus eight flyouts) and exhibited his typical reliable control. Correia’s debut went smoother than expected, but let’s not anoint him the second coming of Brad Radke just yet.
In Mike Pelfrey’s first start since Tommy John surgery last May, he went 5.1 innings and allowed two unearned runs on five hits, two walks and a strikeout. His pitch count was too high (96 pitches), but outside of that, Pelfrey was serviceable at worst. (#PelfreyForHeisman)
The starting staff finished the first series with a 2.45 ERA, and all three gave the Twins a chance to win. That seems like a good thing? The biggest positive here is that Scott Diamond, arguably the team’s best starter, will return to the rotation in mid-April.
The bullpen was also stout in the opening series of the season, but this is not nearly as surprising as the performance of the starters. Through a combined 7.2 innings, the pen allowed one run on four hits with 11 strikeouts. Jared Burton is emerging as a dependable set up man. Glen Perkins has been superb since his transition to full-time reliever in 2010, and he should excel as a closer.
I’m not saying that you should abandon all fear over the Twins pitching for the season. They are still going to finish in the bottom-half of the league in ERA, but that’s not a bad thing. This team is one that needs to show progress and develop its youth, a goal can be accomplished without winning 120 games.