Saturday, October 6, 2007

Yearly Summary: Pitchers

The pitching staff had a good year, although it was not as good as last year for the most part. That was due in part to Francisco Liriano's injury and Brad Radke's retirement, but also because of Juan Rincon and Dennys Reyes's ineffectiveness. Each pitcher with a significant amount of innings has been graded and their seasons have been compared to 2006. Again, grades are not based at all on expectations, so players with the exact same stats would have the same grade no matter what we expected from them going into the season.

Johan Santana: A
Compared to 2006: Worse
Santana experienced the worst season of his starting career, setting career (as a starter) worsts in ERA, wins, losses, strikeouts, BAA, K/BB, home runs allowed, innings pitched, and WHIP. Nonetheless, he still managed to rank among the league leaders in this down year, and would have probably won his 4th straight AL K title if not for some uncooperative weather in his last start. Obviously, Santana was unable to match his Cy Young season last year in which he won the MLB pitching triple crown, but he still led the AL in WHIP and finished 2nd in Ks, 3rd in BAA, 7th in ERA, 6th in innings pitched, and 4th in K/BB in his down year. And then there was his sparkling 17 K, 2 hit performance against Texas on August 19th. And his sparkling performance as a hitter too, including a triple and a double, that resulted in an OPS over 1.000. Perhaps we don't need to look for a designated hitter...?
2007: 219 IP, 15-13, 3.33 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 235 K, 52 BB

Joe Nathan: A-
Compared to 2006: Worse
Nathan had another great year as the Twins' closer, finishing with an ERA under 2.00 for the third time in his four years as closer. His strikeout rate went way down this season, but he was still very effective in late inning situations, going 37-41 in save opportunities. I have heard a few Twins fans saying that Nathan's option should not be picked up, and that Pat Neshek could take his place. I don't think that is a good idea, as Nathan has been one of the best closers over his previous four seasons, and there is no guarantee the transition to closer would be seamless for Neshek.
2007: 71.2 IP, 4-2, 1.88 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 77 K, 19 BB

Matt Guerrier: B+
Compared to 2006: Better
Guerrier stepped up this year as Juan Rincon struggled, and moved into the late-inning setup role along with Neshek. Originally coming to the majors with ideas for starting, he was good last year and even better this year in the bullpen, seemingly solidifying his position there, especially with all the youngsters clamoring for spots in the rotation. His biggest improvement over last year was his K/BB rate, as he walked the same number of batters in almost 20 more innings and increased his K/9 from 4.81 to 6.95.
2007: 88 IP, 2-4, 2.35 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 68 K, 21 BB

Pat Neshek: B+
Compared to 2006: Worse
Guerrier's running mate, he did equally well in stepping into Juan Rincon's shoes as the setup man for Nathan. Although he did encounter injury problems, most likely from being overused, his season was almost as good as his rookie campaign. Towards the end of the year, however, his walk rate spiked and his strikeout rate fell, which hopefully was just due to the injury. He almost made the All-Star Game in this, his first full season, finding himself on the final man ballot that was inevitably won by a Red Sock.
2007: 70.1 IP, 7-2, 2.94 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 74 K, 27 BB

Glen Perkins: B-
Compared to 2006: --
In what was very close to being a lost year, Perkins looked quite good. Perhaps vying for a starting spot next year, his limited action this year showed a lot of promise. After his injury in May, and his setback in July, it seemed like we wouldn't see Perkins again until next year. But in September he was able to make a few more appearances, not allowing a run or any inherited runners to score. He would be a valuable asset out of the bullpen, now that Reyes has proven he is not good enough to be the sole lefty, and Carmen Cali certainly isnt either.
2007: 28.2 IP, 0-0, 3.14 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 20 K, 12 BB

Carlos Silva: B-
Compared to 2006: Better
Wow. A great comeback this year for Silva. A lot of Twins' fans, including myself, were not happy to see his option picked up and had expectations of a similar season. Instead, Silva put up numbers similar to his other two years with the Twins, and was the only starter other than Santana to remain in the rotation for the entire season. As per usual, his BB/9 mark was among the best in the majors, ranking fifth in the American League and sixth overall.
2007: 202 IP, 13-14, 4.19 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 89 K, 36 BB

Matt Garza: B-
Compared to 2006: Better
I think most fans would be lying if they said they weren't primed for a season in the vicinity of Liriano's 2006 after Garza's first month of the 2007 season (July). His earned run average was a stout 1.37 despite his 1-2 record. However, over the last two months, he only made it into the sixth inning three times, and once in his last eight starts. This was due to both ineffectiveness at times and inefficiency at others, but also to many unearned runs (10 of 44 runs). His last start was a good illustration of this, as he only went five innings, allowing just one unearned run, because of a pitch count that had reached 109.
2007: 83 IP, 5-7, 3.69 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 67 K, 32 BB

Scott Baker: C+
Compared to 2006: Better
Baker cooked up better and better pitching as the year went along. He gave up fewer home runs than he did last year (despite many more innings) and again put up very good K/BB and BB/9 ratios. He continues to show potential and figures to at least have a great chance to begin 2008 in the starting rotation. And let's not forget the absolute gem he pitched on August 31st against Kansas City when he threw 8 perfect innings before allowing a hit and a walk in the ninth inning.
2007: 143.2 IP, 9-9, 4.26 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 102 K, 29 BB

Kevin Slowey: C
Compared to 2006: --
Slowey's rookie year was not spectacular but it was good by rookie standards, and only got better as it went along. In his first stint in the big leagues, he posted a 5.84 earned run average and 1.68 WHIP, and served up 13 home runs in 37 innings. But in September, following his second call-up, he lowered his ERA to 3.34 and WHIP to 1.04, allowing just 3 homers and 2 walks in 29 2/3 innings. His K/9 also rose dramaticallly from his first stint. All of these statistics are very assuring, indicating that Slowey may have the talent to reach his high potential.
2007: 66.2 IP, 4-1, 4.73 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 47 K, 11 BB

Dennys Reyes: C-
Compared to 2006: Worse
There was no way Reyes was going to repeat his 2006 season, but this was not a good season for him in any regard. Although he was much better as the season wore on, the injury that prematurely ended his season kept him from bringing his numbers down enough. He had a huge problem finding the strike zone the entire year, walking the same number as he stuck out, 21, in just 29 1/3 innings. Because of that, his WHIP was very bad, which is more important for a reliever than a starter.
2007: 29.1 IP, 2-1, 3.99 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 21 K, 21 BB

Boof Bonser: C-
Compared to 2006: Worse
Bonser had a disappointing year, as he was not even able to keep his spot in the rotation for the whole season. Over his last ten starts, he had just two quality starts, and his one relief appearance in that span was very bad too. He had trouble with his control all year long, especially in the last three months, when his K/BB ratio fell to 1.76. He will most likely get a shot at starting again next year, but with many young pitching prospects and Liriano coming back, there is a good chance he will not be in the rotation.
2007: 173 IP, 8-12, 5.10 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 136 K, 65 BB

Juan Rincon: D+
Compared to 2006: Worse
Rincon, as has been noted repeatedly, was bad this year. After having three consecutive very similar seasons, he broke from that good pattern with his 2007 season. The year got worse and worse as it went on, until it capped in July when he allowed 11 runs in 8 innings. Then, as I brought up in a previous post, his last month was much better and may indicate that he has solved the problems that caused this terrible year.
2007: 59.2 IP, 3-3, 5.13 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 49 K, 28 BB

Carmen Cali: D
Compared to 2006: --
Cali's first year with the Twins hit a lot of bumps. He was able to end the year with a decent ERA, but seemed to look a lot like Dennys Reyes in a bad way. He didn't always look like he knew where his pitches would end up and wound up walking 16 batters in only 21 innings. This should not be surprising, however, because Cali walked 12 in 13 1/3 innings with the Cardinals between 2004 and 2005.
2007: 21 IP, 0-1, 4.71 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 14 K, 16 BB

Julio DePaula: F
Compared to 2006: --
In his rookie season, DePaula pitched an unremarkable 20 innings, to be considerate. Actually, finishing the season with an 8.55 ERA was quite an accomplishment since, after three appearances, it stood at 31.50. It got as low as 6.17 before DePaula gave up 7 runs in one inning over two appearances, one of those being the 6-run ninth inning collapse against the White Sox. Perhaps he will get another chance next year if things work out, and hopefully he will show better stuff if he does.
2007: 20 IP, 0-1, 8.55 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 8 BB, 10 K

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