A week ago, TWIT had some positive news to report. Not this week. The Twins turned a four game winning streak into a five game losing streak in the blink of an eye. Overall, they went 1-5 last week, and all of the old problems returned: awful starting pitching, shaky bullpen work, slapsticky fielding, and a lack of timely hitting. What’s more, they dropped two series against AL Central rivals, helping to prove that it wasn’t just the elite competition that was keeping the Twins down in the first part of the season.
In short, last week provided further proof of what most of us already knew: the Twins are one of the worst teams in the Major Leagues.
Coming up: a Memorial day tame (plus two non-Memorial Day games) against the Oakland Athletics, an off day on Thursday, and then three on the road against the Indians. The Twins are probably not going to lose on Thursday, but the rest of the week might provide a challenge.
P.J. Walters. Back in the 1990s, somebody connected with the NFL said of Cris Carter, “all he does is catch touchdowns.” If we were to make a similar statement about Walters, we could say “all he does is pitch quality starts.” With two more last week, including the Twins’ first complete game of the season, Walters is now 4-4 in the QS column. The rest of the team is 11-42. Walters is not overpowering, and he never dominates. He just goes to the mound and does the minimum necessary to give the team a chance to win. Unfortunately, the rest of the team does not always hold up its end of the bargain. On Sunday closer Matt Capps blew a save for the first time this season to deprive Walters of the win.
Justin Morneau. Move over, Josh Willingham. The Twins have a new season home run leader. Morneau bashed four of them in his first full week back from the Disabled List, bringing his season total to nine. In the process, he passed Torii Hunter on the Minnesota Twins’ all time list. Morneau now has 194 career dingers, which is good for seventh place in the Twins’ record book. Next target: Gary Gaetti, who hit 201.
Joe Mauer. After some slow weeks, Mauer’s quietly reverting to his normal form: a super-high on-base hitter who pounds out doubles. Mauer, who now owns a seven game hitting streak, went 8-23 (.347) with five walks and a home run last week. His slash line for the season is now up to .300/.405/.418. For those who are keeping track of his performance against his $23 million annual salary, Fangraphs considers Mauer to have provided $6.7 million worth of value this season, which projects to $23.09 million over a full season. Not enough to make up for last year’s salary, but a step in the right direction.
Francisco Liriano. Liriano proved that the way to earn more playing time for this team is to pitch horribly. He allowed four runs in a relief outing on Friday, and then the team announced he was getting promoted back to the starting staff. Don’t try to figure it out; it will make your head hurt. Just go with it.
Anthony Swarzak. Part of the reason Liriano gets a chance to start is that Swarzak dropped the ball in his spot start. He couldn’t get past the third inning Friday against the Tigers, giving up six runs and approximately 14,000 line drives.
The fielding. The Twins committed six errors this week, five of them coming in the two losses at Chicago. A team with starting pitching as bad as the Twins’ cannot afford to give away unearned runs, but it happened.