After 17 games in 17 days, the Twins finally get a day off today. Unfortunately, that off day gives the team an extra 24 hours to stew over a nasty 16-4 loss against Milwaukee. The pitching staff sure could use the day of rest, as they were so depleted that Drew Butera had to come in for an inning yesterday. Still, if you take away that blowout loss, the Twins had a pretty good week. They recovered nicely from a two game sweep against the Indians and went on the road to win two series against 2011 playoff teams (the Tigers and Brewers).
The week ahead features two matchups against AL Central rivals. First, the Twins bounce over to Chicago for three games against the White Sox, probably the closest they have to a true rival. After the Chicago series, it’s back home to Minneapolis so the Tigers can pay a visit. The White Sox and Tigers are both well within striking distance of the division-leading Indians, but neither team is what you could call menacing, with both hovering right around the .500 mark.
The Twins can probably have another winning week if they can figure out what to do about their starting rotation. Nick Blackburn hit the Disabled List last week with a quadricep injury. Carl Pavano is still not at full strength, and as has been the case with all of his starts this season, there’s a chance he will have to miss or delay his start this week. To add insult to those injuries, Jason Marquis made an utterly awful start on Sunday, surrendering eight runs and failing to complete inning number two. P.J. Walters and Scott Diamond have been more than adequate fill-ins so far, and both will make starts this week. But the Twins are starting to run out of replacement starters, so it will be interesting to see what they do as the original ones keep dropping out.
Butera. We all know Drew Butera can’t hit, right? I mean, he has a .216 career batting average in the minor leagues. Well, whatever you previously thought about Butera, this week has shattered those opinions. The Twins’ third string catcher hit .462 with three doubles in 13 at bats, plus a pair of walks. As if that weren’t enough, he took the mound on Sunday and delivered a hitless inning of relief. His fastball hit 93 miles per hour, and he even managed to strike out former Twin Carlos Gomez, giving him one more K for the day than starter Marquis. Finally, a pitcher who can miss bats.
Ben Revere. Revere has gotten a bit of a raw deal this year. As the Twins piled up questionable waiver wire pickups, Revere found himself sitting back in AAA after being all but guaranteed a starting slot before the year began. This week he came back and he hit great. Revere had a .357/.471/.714 line with three doubles, a triple, and two steals. The Twins are playing for the future now, not for 2012, and Revere is a part of that future. He must stay in the lineup.
Brian Duensing. Four games, four scoreless appearances, three strikeouts in 4.1 innings. With so many starters on the brink, it’s hard to imagine that Duensing will stay in the bullpen for long.
Marquis. Unfortunately, Sunday’s debacle was not the only bad start this week for Marquis. He was also guilty of allowing five runs to the Indians in a loss on Tuesday. In 6.2 innings this week, Marquis racked up an ERA of 17.55 (Blackburn’s weekly ERA of 27.00 was actually worse, but we’ll give Blackburn a pass off this list because he was pitching injured). He also had a WHIP of 3.0. It is 100% impossible to win games in the Major Leagues if you allow three base runners per inning.
Trevor Plouffe. TWIT couldn’t decide if Plouffe belonged in the Weekly Winner or Weekly Worst list, so we decided to make a new category for him. Plouffe played six games and had just four hits this week, but three of those hits were home runs. The most notable was his game winner in the 11th inning Saturday. He hit just .182 and struck out eight times, but he provided more exciting moments in this roller coaster week than any other Twin.