After a doubleheader sweep yesterday at Target Field, the Twins now find themselves seven games back of the division leading Cleveland Indians. The two teams sport mirror image 51-44 and 44-51 records, and if we look at wins above replacement (WAR, thanks fangraphs), we see the seven game difference is spot on:
|WAR by area||Twins||Indians|
Yesterday, we saw the Twins bullpen turn in another below replacement level performance, giving up three runs in just over five innings pitched over the two games. And this was without Matt Capps even making an appearance. Tonight, the teams' aces (considering Scott Baker is on the DL) are on the mound. The forecast calls for storms, but they are supposed to be gone by the time this is posted.
|2011 - Francisco Liriano||6-7||16||16||1||1||0||0||90.2||77||52||48||9||47||76||4.76||1.37|
After a terrible start to the season (9.13 ERA in April), Francisco Liriano has turned it around. Over his last eleven starts, dating back to early May, Liriano has posted a 3.22 ERA, with 29 walks and 58 strikeouts over 67 innings. As usual, control is the key for Liriano, and his walk rate during June and July (3.2 per nine innings) is actually below his career rate (3.4). Last time out against the Royals, Liriano got the win pitching 7.0 innings and giving up 3 runs (1 earned) and 7 hits with 2 walks and 4 strikeouts. He has had trouble against current Indians hitters, who have combined for a 954 OPS over 69 at bats, with Asdrubal Cabrera (11 for 19, HR, 1.380 OPS) having the most success.
|2011 - Justin Masterson||8-6||20||19||1||0||0||0||128.2||119||45||40||4||40||95||2.80||1.24|
Justin Masterson has been the Indians ace so far this season, and he's shown no signs of slowing in July, giving up only 5 runs over 23.0 innings (1.96 ERA) and posting a 3-0 record. Masterson's xFIP (3.55) indicates that some regression may be in order as fly balls begin to leave the yard (3.8% HR/FB, well below his career rate of 9.3%). Masterson doesn't give up a ton of fly balls (career 56.1% GB rate), but hopefully Jim Thome can help with a jack or two tonight.