I anticipate that this will be a very fast game. Not only does Chris Sale not allow many baserunners, but he's also tied for 14th in the major leagues in pace (the average time between pitches) at 20.2 seconds. Andrew Albers is even faster at 19.7 seconds, which would place him 7th among starting pitchers if he had enough innings to qualify. If Albers continues to suppress the hits and refuse to walk anyone, I would not be surprised if this game is finished in about 2 1/2 hours.
Chris Sale (8-11, 2.73)
Don't let that record fool you, Sale has been pitching very well this year. Hawk Harrelson might tell you that Sale just doesn't have The Will To Win, but it's much more likely that the White Sox hitters just have a tough time scoring runs when Sale is on the hill. After all, there's not much more Sale can do when he's already striking out over 9 batters per 9 innings (7th among starting pitchers), walking 1.99 batters per 9 innings (21st), has a 2.73 ERA (11th), and a .222 batting average allowed (tied for 14th).
Sale features three main pitches. With his low three-quarters, perhaps even sidearm delivery, his low to mid-90s fastball has a ton of run into the hands of lefthanded hitters. He complements that with a hellish high-70s slider and low-80s change-up that are straight-up laced with Hepatitis K. In fact, FanGraphs rates both his breaking ball and offspeed pitch as being significantly above-average, so the Twins are going to have their hands full today.
Andrew Albers (2-0, 0.00)
Somehow, some way, Albers keeps hitters off balance. We've made fun of Rick Anderson, Ron Gardenhire, and "pitch to contact," but the funny thing is that this is exactly what Albers has done in his first two starts. He has struck out only 4 hitters in 17 1/3 innings (2.08 K/9) and has walked only 1 (0.52 BB/9), but has been able to get hitters to hit the ball right at the Twins defense. Granted, it also helps when you've got Pedro Florimon and Brian Dozier running all over the place to make outs.
Albers has your standard 4-pitch arsenal, which are a mid to high-80s fastball, a low-80s change-up, a high-70s slider and a looping high-60s curveball. As one might expect with a pitcher that has .105 batting average allowed, all of Albers' pitches are rated above-average at the moment. Whether they actually are above-average is yet to be seen.
Although Albers has been fantastic in his two starts thus far, all good things must come to an end eventually. He won't be able to keep this up forever, but facing the anemic White Sox today might just be enough to allow Albers to turn in yet another solid outing. Oh, and if he succeeds in keeping the White Sox scoreless today, The Sportive podcast promises to record a podcast entirely of the 4 co-hosts singing "O Canada" 25 times. So yes, Albers really isn't THIS good, but we can still enjoy it. Speaking of...
Consecutive Scoreless Innings Record
Orel Hershiser, 59 2/3 IP* (1988-1989)
Andrew Albers, 17 1/3 IP (2013)
Consecutive Scoreless Innings Record To Start A Career
Brad Ziegler, 39 1/3 IP* (2008)
Andrew Albers, 17 1/3 IP (2013)
* The Elias Sports Bureau claims that these two records are actually 59 and 39 innings, respectively, because Hershiser and Ziegler allowed runs before completing their 60th and 40th innings. I disagree with this as Hershiser had recorded 2 outs to start the 1989 season before his streak-breaking run was giving up, whereas Ziegler had recorded 1 out before giving up his first run, so I've credited each with those outs they did record.
Oddly enough, there's no Morneau in today's lineup. Let the trade speculation begin!
- Brian Dozier, 2B
- Joe Mauer, 1B
- Josh Willingham, LF
- Ryan Doumit, DH
- Wilkin Ramirez, RF
- Trevor Plouffe, 3B
- Chris Herrmann, C
- Clete Thomas, CF
- Pedro Florimon, SS
SP Andrew Albers
SP Chris Sale