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Pitching wins championships, most of the time

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In this article we look at why there's more to winning championships then just a starting rotation's ERA and why Minnesota Twins fans have room for optimism in 2015 and beyond.

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Since 1903, the team with the lowest ERA has gone on to win the World Series 21 times. The most recent was the 2010 San Francisco Giants, with a team ERA of 3.36 defeating the Texas Rangers, and that was the first time it happened since the Atlanta Braves accomplished both feats in 1995.

Over the past 120 years, there have been 12 World Series Champions with a team ERA above 4.00. Why bring this up? Is it even important? Maybe?

The Minnesota Twins’ team ERA is 4.17. Obviously, that’s not great, but until Ervin Santana is reinstated, and a few of the young guns (Jose Berrios, Kohl Stewart, Tyler Duffey, Alex Meyer, etc.) are called up, we’re probably going to see the earned run average dip and spike each week.

Kyle Gibson is doing exactly what was expected of him—taking his game to the next level. He leads all Twins’ starters in earned run average at 2.98, wins above replacement at 1.50 and quality starts with five. He is second in both wins with three and innings pitched with 48.1.

While Gibson is validating why he was a first round pick, Mike Pelfrey has pitched himself into the Comeback Player of the Year discussion. It has been a long road back since having Tommy John surgery in 2012 to repair a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his elbow, but this season he is healthy, pitching with confidence and is out to prove that he is a top-tier MLB pitcher.

While both Phil Hughes and Trevor May have higher earned run averages, both are hitting their stride and eating up innings. This is May’s first full year and he is already looking like a quality starter, and while Hughes may not break his strikeout to walk ratio record he set last season, before the years out, he will post the type of numbers that earned him a three-year extension.

At the beginning of this season one of my concerns was the bullpen, and while I still think it is a work-in-progress (currently own a 4.06 ERA, which is the highest we’ve seen since 2011 when the bullpen finished the season with a 4.51 ERA), guys like Glen Perkins, who has 15 saves in as many opportunities. (Side note: Perkins is probably the most underrated closer in the game, and for the life of me, I don’t know why). Blaine Boyer has been solid in relief. Prior to the last game, May 20, he pitched in 15 consecutive games without allowing a run. The sentimental favorite is Aaron Thompson, who has more innings pitched than any other relief pitcher. It took ten years for the former first-rounder to put everything together. That takes a strong-minded individual with the type of drive and determination that winners have. Three teams and ten years later, it seems as though his journey has ended because he has been brilliant for the Twins. He seems to have finally found his home.

As of May 22, they are six games above .500 and third in the AL Central trailing the Kansas City Royals by three games and the Detroit Tigers by just a single game.

After playing a quarter of the season, the Twins are making things very interesting, and remember, 12 other teams won the World Series without having the best ERA.

There’s always reason to believe.

Go Twins!