GAME TIME: 7:10pm, CST
Looking ahead to tonight's match up, there isn't much history from the pitchers on the season nor in the past. Scott Baker, who has been Minnesota's most consistent starter in the young season, has just one start in Kaufman Stadium in which he allowed one run in seven innings of work. On the rubber for the Royals is Superchunk Runelvys Hernandez, who in six starts versus the Twins is 1-4 with an ERA closer to 8 than to 7. For a nice overview of tonight's match up, check out ESPN.
In spite of having logged only one quality start in three tries, the 24-year old Baker has pitched relatively well. At least, his results have been solid. In his last start on the 20th his pitch count elevated quickly, and resulted in his exiting the game after 5 innings. On the season he's 1-1 with a 3.31 ERA, a 5.51 k/9 and a .710 OPS against. If this is the line we get for Baker on the season I'd consider it a good year for him. A better innings/start average I suppose, and maybe a slightly better win ratio (y'know, for the team), but beyond that, sure, I'd be happy.
I'm so hard to please.
One key for Scott tonight is keeping the pitch count in control in order to avoid exiting the game again in the fifth inning, and forcing the Twins to use what's been a pretty shaky bullpen up to this point. Liriano, Rincon and Nathan did good last night, so let's hope we don't need to use more than one of them again tonight.
In yesterday afternoon's post I talked about how pitching was the one area we didn't need lose sleep over. Well, this carried into the bullpen. The troubles the starters have been having, well, they too carry into the bullpen.
Player IP ERA K/9 WHIP Player IP ERA K/9 WHIP
Nathan 6.0 0.00 7.50 0.50 Dessens 11.2 3.09 8.49 1.20
Rincon 10.1 3.48 8.71 1.74 Burgos 8.1 2.16 10.80 0.96
Crain 9.1 8.68 6.75 1.82 Sisco 7.0 10.29 9.00 2.29
Guerrier 7.2 8.22 2.35 2.61 Hudson 9.0 7.00 5.00 1.89
Liriano 11.1 0.79 12.71 1.24 Gobble 6.0 12.00 9.00 2.17
Eyre 7.2 2.35 2.35 1.37 Wood 12.2 4.26 5.68 1.82
Kansas City has used 3 more men in relief roles, but I'm taking pity and stopping the anguish at six. In their bullpen there isn't any way you could make out like things aren't a complete mess. Sisco, who was supposed to be one of very, very few bright spots for the Royals, has managed to be a blow-hard in spite of keeping the strikeout numbers up. He's allowing over two runners per inning which is pathetic, although not as pathetic as Guerrier who's put up even crappier numbers. As great as Burgos has been, and to a lesser extent Dessens, they can't pitch everyday. Usually this isn't a problem for a team, but in the Royals' case it is a huge problem because of all the other guys waiting in line to take the mound and absolutely suck.
Out of the Twins bullpen things come out roses by comparison. Crain, whose k/9 numbers are actually way above his career average, has managed to repeatedly get himself into trouble. In 8 appearances he's been scored on 6 times. One of the two times he wasn't credited with allowing a run, he only pitched 1/3 of an inning. Maybe we need to start doing this more often. For Rincon's case, he gave up all four runs in out outing. Guerrier, on the other hand, is like Crain in that he hasn't been scored upon in two appearances. With his strikeout ratio it's no surprise; all the batter has to do is wait for the inevitable pitch to saunter through the zone. Perhaps having Liriano as another dominant-style pitcher in the bullpen is a good thing for the moment, if/until Crain gets himself under control. Not that I don't trust Eat At Denny's Reyes.
Pos Name AB AVG HR RBI OBP Pos Name AB AVG HR RBI OBP
LF Stewart 60 .333 2 10 .385 CF Costa 53 .302 3 7 .321
2B Castillo 51 .373 0 7 .448 2B Grudzielanek 68 .294 0 4 .329
C Mauer 59 .322 1 7 .408 DH Sweeney 53 .170 1 4 .318
DH White 71 .155 0 4 .162 RF Sanders 59 .254 3 11 .274
CF Huner 74 .216 5 13 .266 1B Mientkiewicz 57 .246 0 5 .302
1B Morneau 69 .203 4 14 .257 LF Brown 62 .210 1 9 .288
3B Batista 64 .266 2 8 .347 3B Teahen 50 .220 1 5 .273
RF Ford 40 .250 1 3 .333 SS Berroa 64 .313 0 7 .323
SS Castro 52 .288 0 4 .315 C Buck 39 .231 0 5 .295
Wow, things look pretty at the top of our order. As long as Stewart and Castillo...and, well, Mauer for that matter...stay healthy, it looks like we'll have the opportunity to score a number of runs this season.
I repeat: opportunity. For as wonderful as the top third of the order appears, the middle third has been nothing short of disappointing. Rondell White hasn't been himself, nor has he had a break on balls in play. Torii Hunter is going through one of his incredibly unproductive streaks that have become infuriating. Justin Morneau still looks lost at the dish, and appears to have picked up no new skills with the bat in his hand. Oddly enough, if we batted the bottom third of our order in the four-five-six spots, we'd be statistically better in all three slots. We wouldn't be as dangerous, and the talent isn't comparable, but we would have failed less given the same numbers. Sad.
Key Match Up
Runelvys Hernandez VS Tony Batista
I have no statistics to give you here, because the match up has nothing to do with the wins and losses to be given out tonight. These two are having a hotdog eating contest. They best hope Matty LeCroy doesn't show up with his bib on.