Last April, Kevin Correia put us all on our heels by streaking through the month. In five starts he compiled a 2.23 ERA in 36.1 innings and generally, was as good as anyone could dream him to be. And it was fantastic, because Correia is actually a really easy guy to cheer for.
He went the rest of 2013 with a 4.65 ERA, which is closer to what we expected him to give us heading into the season. Nevertheless he was consistent and certainly not terrible, so we knew that 2014 would be an interesting season for Correia.
Correia really struggled out of the gate this spring. He never had an ERA over 5.00 last year, but finished April with an unsightly 7.33 mark. Seven starts more, though June 5, he mixed in a couple of good outings but was still only able to bring the ERA down to 6.11.
But since then, in his last six starts, Correia has posted a 2.43 ERA in 37 innings. He's gone at least six in each start, allowing more than two runs just once, and his season ERA is now down to a far more respectable 4.79. It's still on the upper end of the desirable range, even for a back-of-the-rotation starter, but he's trending strongly in the right direction.
Not much has changed for Correia in terms of strikeouts. He's only rung up 12 in those 37 innings of brilliant baseball. What's really aided his progress has been his ability to keep hitters off balance, as batters continually fail to hit the ball hard. In those six starts, opponents have managed just a .232/.295/.338 line. Advanced metrics think Correia is much more in line with his talent level, as his FIP (4.36) and xFIP (4.78) are right in line with his ERA.
None of this is to say that he can continue to post a sub-3.00 ERA for the rest of the season, but with one or two additional good starts under his belt we can really change our minds about whether or not he has value to contending teams in advance of the July 31 trade deadline. Even then there's little chance of returning a prospect of any great value, but flipping expiring contracts on a non-contending team is Front Office Best Practice 101.
One thing we can say, for the time being, is that for as much as we'd like to see Alex Meyer take someone's spot in the Twins rotation, it can't be Correia's. Not right now. He's been Minnesota's best pitcher over the last month. Let's hope he can keep it going for another two or three weeks.