#30 / Pitcher / Minnesota Twins
Sep 19, 1981
|2010 - Scott Baker||5-4||12||12||0||0||0||0||73.2||81||37||37||9||17||56||4.52||1.33|
Last season, Scott Baker began the year quite slowly. Through the end of May his ERA stood over six, and it was clear that he wasn't the pitcher the Twins thought they'd signed to a long-term contract. Then June rolled around, and the Twins went 17-7 in his starts for the rest of the season.
This year, Baker has started slowly once again. Not near the disastrous level of last year, but we're accustomed to seeing him pitch better than he has. With the summer months now officially underway, can he find the form that turned 2009 around for him?
To be fair to Baker, both FIP (3.91) and xFIP (3.97) insist he's better than his ERA. Line drive and ground ball rates are up, but as a guy who is known to be susceptible to the home run, fly ball rates are actually down to an uncharacteristic and career-low 37.9% (career 44.6%). There are a few good signs in there, in spite of a slightly lower strikeout rate and a fastball that hasn't been anywhere as effective as it was last year.
#52 / Pitcher / Kansas City Royals
Jun 19, 1977
|2010 - Bruce Chen||2-0||12||2||0||0||1||0||18.1||13||7||6||0||13||18||2.95||1.42|
Who's this guy?
Chen has has a very long career, and he's only 32. At least until later this month. He debuted for the Braves way back in 1998, and has been a decent swingman for most of his career.
Now with the Royals, Chen is about to make his third consecutive start after beginning the year in the bullpen. He threw 75 pitches in his first outing and 91 last time, so it's safe to assume that he'll have a full complement of pitches to work with tonight, without fear of being pulled. Over his nine innings as a starter he's allowed just three runs, striking out nine and walking five.
Chen's always had the ability to get guys out on strikes, but it seems like he's found his groove again. What's interesting is that his FIP (3.27) and xFIP (4.91) aren't even close.
He's still walking too many hitters, and can get extremely sloppy at times. There's also a lot of luck involved: in 18.1 innings, in spite of a 45% fly ball rate, Chen hasn't allowed a single home run. It's probably about time to change that.
Right now, his defense is picking him up. Offenses are hitting just .197/.321/.273 off him, in spite of all the line drives (24.5%). Things will balance out.