When: 1:10 PM CDT (19:10 GMT)
Weather: Mostly Sunny, High Near 63
TV: FSN. Radio: Voices Carry
Most seasons, no matter how dismal, have some redeeming moments and storylines . . . or maybe we're just slavish dolts who imbue randomly selected events with meaning to justify our fan habit. Doesn't matter.
Every addicted Twins fan remembers Andrew Albers fondly. During a few August 2013 starts, Albers (son of Justin Morneau's childhood postman) provided more excitement than any Twins games of the previous three years. Somehow, Albers turned Saints-level pitch speed into 17+ scoreless innings, including a two-hit, two-K shutout. The following season, Albers played in Korea; now he's paid by the Blue Jays.
He's been alright for the Buffalo Bisons (only 98 miles away!) and had 2.2 scoreless innings in Toronto, but it's unlikely he'll get many more. I wonder why teams hang onto guys like Albers (hoping they'll find "some way" to increase velocity, perhaps?) System filler, most likely. Tommy Milone can probably relate. You may produce equivalent results to a higher-paid or younger, harder-throwing pitcher but you'll never get their chances unless they all fall off the same injury cliff at once.
An odd thing when you look at Albers's stats. His best year (2013, MLB and AAA) involved the highest amount of flyouts he'd ever surrendered. Normally lots of fly outs are a Bad Thing. Why was Albers successful that year? I wondered if pitch speed had anything to do with it. After all, Newton's Third Law. Maybe slower pitches become more long flyouts than homeruns.
Nope! Wrong! Turns out that while pitch speed is a factor in how far baseballs fly, it's a tiny one. Bat speed is five-to-six times more important. That is, for every five MPH you change pitch speeds, you only change batted-ball speeds by one MPH. (You can read William Harris explaining the physics of this here, and I know you will.)
Makes sense without the physics, really. If pitch speed mattered nearly so much as bat speed, Home Run Derby contestants would want a full-windup control expert throwing 90 MPH fastballs in the same spot, not their favorite BP tosser. High-average, high-contact hitters would have more power.
Of course Albers isn't the only ex-Twin in that Toronto system. Yesterday Jesse had a nice interview with Tom Dakers of the SB Jays site about Danny V and Chris C. It mentioned Colabello's crazy BABIP number (now .483) but omitted the horrid Twins radio ad featuring some Mambo Italiano type singing "Colabello, he's-a nice-a fellow" to an old French children's tune, which I think cursed C.C. in Minnesota.
There's also Liam Hendriks, who would be fun to watch "Mad Max" with, and R.A. Dickey, who since leaving the Twins has courageously been open and upfront about abuse he suffered as a child. Did I miss anyone else?
I did. Johan Santana, the best baseball player I've ever seen in my life, is trying for a comeback with those Buffalo Bisons. Again. He's on the injured list. Again. You know how this will likely turn out and almost assuredly Santana does too, yet something makes it impossible for him to quit and nobody can scoff at that.
bean5302 provided these wonderful links to footage of Santana pitching in Venezuela this January. It's delightful to see Santana enjoying himself. Strange watching him again, remembering days I'd buy walk-up tickets just to watch Johan play. Time flies.
Pitching today are Aaron Sanchez and Kyle "Screw Peripherals" Gibson. Sanchez is 22 and looks 12 (or I'm getting old and 22 looks like 12 to me.) A full-time reliever last year, he's been the starter in all his games this season. Stats ahoy!
|2014 (24 G, 33 IP)||1.09||.697||7.4||2.5||.160||2.80|
|2015 (9 G, 52 IP)||3.98||1.52||5.9||5.9||.258||5.40|
If those walk numbers for this season burned your retinas, I'm sorry. It's not helping Sanchez's cause that all his pitches are down in velocity from last year. Watch today if his fastball is closer to 97 (2014 edition) or 94 (2015).
Here is a song called "OK Blue Jays." It's got a nice cheerable chorus, and lead vocals that make me think some Muppet is singing (not a bad thing):
Say hi to the hitters, they matter, too:
|Canadian Devils||America! USA! USA!|
|Jose Reyes, SS ||Brian Dozier, 2B|
|Josh Donaldson, 3B||Eduardo Nunez, DH |
|Jose Bautista, DH ||Joe Mauer, 1B|
|Edwin Encarnacion, 1B||Trevor The Plouffe, 3B |
|Russell Martin, C ||Eddie Rosario, RF|
|Chris Colabello, LF||Eduardo Escobar, LF |
|Ezequiel Carrera, RF ||Chris Herrmann, C|
|Kevin Pillar, CF||Aaron Hicks, CF |
|Ryan Goins, 2B ||Danny Santana, SS|