After last night's disappointing 7-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers (85-73), the Minnesota Twins' (82-76) backs are squarely against the wall this afternoon in Detroit. Three games ahead with four to play, and a magic number of 2, the Tigers can clinch the division with a win. The Twins need a win today plus a lot of help to gain at least two additional games over the weekend. Possible? Yes. Probable? No.
|2009 - Scott Baker||14-9||31||31||1||1||0||0||189.0||179||95||94||27||43||157||4.48||1.17|
Fortunately for the Twins, our most consistent pitcher is on the mound this afternoon. For the most part, Baker's 2009 numbers are a repeat of his solid 2008 season. K/9: 7.48 (2009) to 7.36 (2008). BB/9: 2.05 to 2.19. BABIP: .288 to .290. Opponent's batting average: .251 to .249. GB/FB: 0.73 to 0.72. Etc. The only real difference in Baker's peripherals is a higher HR/FB rate (10.1% to 8.5% - suggesting a regression to mean) and a large drop in LOB% (69.4% to 78.7%), both of which drive a higher FIP (4.02 to 3.79) and much higher ERA (4.48 to 3.45).
After a very good August (4-0, 3.18 ERA), Baker has seen some struggles during his five September starts (2-2, 4.66 ERA). None of Baker's last three outings (CLE, DET, @KC) have been quality starts, and the Tigers hit him hard on 9/20, with 8 hits and 4 runs in 4.2 innings. Minnesota needs Baker to come up big in his last regular season start of the season.
|2009 - Nate Robertson||2-2||27||5||0||0||0||0||43.2||50||29||27||4||28||33||5.56||1.79|
Robertson's 2009 season has been full of ups and downs. After spending the first three months in the bullpen, he spent most of July and August on the DL, making his first start of the season on 9/3. He's only pitched 43.2 innings, so his arm is definitely fresh for this time of the year. He doesn't know where the ball is going (28 walks in 43.2 innings), but his arm is fresh...
In the past, I'd be concerned about Robertson's left-handedness, but this season, the Twins hitters' numbers are a little better against lefties (.281/.340/.435) than righties (.270/.344/.420). Unfortunately, today is a day game for the Twins, and we're 10 games below .500 (23-33) in early starts. On the other hand, Detroit is 8 games above .500 during the day (32-24), so again, an uphill battle.