Twins staff in "Young Guns II"
While each regular member of the Twins starting staff is appearing in at least their third respective year in the big leagues, Minnesota still boats the American League's third-youngest staff considering median age. Despite the soupcon of experience: these boys truly are our Young Guns.
Further evidence of their youth - and their unique place in Twins history - can be found in the fact that this is the first Minnesota staff since 1990 that sports none of the following: a previous 20-game winner, a Cy Young winner, or a World Series champion/MVP.
As a means of charting said newfound rarity throughout this 2009 season, I'll occasionally revisit some Central casting herein, whereupon each staff member will be linked with the hierarchy posed by the cast of the film that, at least in name, mirrors the boys' presentation. That film is "Young Guns." Today, we revisit the rankings in Part 2 of this seasonal column. Note that a new character has been added herein. (To see the initial April 15th rankings, please click here):
Nick Blackburn: Don't be deceived by the pedestrian 5-2 record. Entering his 13th start today, Blackburn has been on a superb run in '09. He sports a sound WHIP of 1.22 and his solid 3.30 ERA is good for 13th in the A.L.; it's also notable that said mark has gone down in four consecutive starts. Of his 12 previous outings this season, Blackburn has eight Quality Starts. Should his batsmen be getting him more than the 5.3 runs per inning pitched, that win total would get knocked up a few clicks.
Kevin Slowey: Win totals are likely the most deceptive stat in pitching. Yup - Slowey sports a glowing 8-2 mark (the same as Zach Greinke), but he's doing so with an measured 4.21 ERA, a total undoubtedly buoyed by the crazy 6.6. runs per he's getting from the offense. Throwing as many strikes as he's wont to toss, the 12 home runs allowed are somewhat expected - especially when contrasted with his fine 5.67 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Scott Baker: Back-to-back Quality Starts hopefully will get Baker back on track. Said starts match just the two other Quality's he has in '09, for a sour 36 percent in 11 eleven starts. Dude continues to rack up K's at 7.6 per starts (and HR's allowed - 15, ugh), but while the season still "feels" somewhat young, Baker needs some giddy-up to equal his stellar '08 (11-4, 3.54 ERA).
Glen Perkins: Local boy looks to be back against the Pirates next week after a stellar second rehab start in Fort Myers. His overall 5.36 ERA in eight Twins' starts looks stinky, however we shouldn't forget Glen's excellent April: 29 innings pitched and just eight runs allowed, going eight strong in each of his fist three starts.
Francisco Liriano: "The Franchise" left entered Wednesday start with the 93rd "best" WHIP in baseball. Ouch. At 2-7 with a cruddy 5.99 ERA (although the meager 3.6 runs per he's gotten hasn't helped), Frankie now sports six Quality Starts in 13 outings . He was decent last night, but his gig could prove vulnerable come Independence Day, at which time we may need to invent a new moniker for the struggling-southpaw. I'm working with "The Corner Store" at present . . .
Anthony Swarzak: At 23 years of age, Swarzak did what he needed to do in his MLB debut stint: make some noise. Toeing the line between exacting and exhausting, the kid still gave us two Quality's in his first four starts. That 1.55 WHIP needs to go way down; concurrently, Swarzak will likely go down himself, back to Rochester I imagine, where the fella can fine-tune. One more start -- at Wrigley on Saturday - gives the kid a final chance to make tough choices for Twins' suits.