Continuing our look back at the disaster that was the month of July for the Minnesota Twins, it’s time to take a look at how the starting pitching held up. The good news is that the rotation fared better than the position players did during the previous month, but as you’re surely aware, that’s far from high praise. While the lineup has hit rock bottom and will surely improve in August, the starting pitching could go either way moving forward.
Minnesota needed starts from six arms during the month and finished with a rotation ERA of 4.75 in 144.0 innings of work. Five teams – Phillies, Rangers, Astros, Giants and Blue Jays – fared worse in the ERA department and thus the Twins ranked 25th in that category for July. While it’s better than being dead last, their ERA was much closer to the bottom (Blue Jays – 5.34) than it was to the top (Rays – 2.25). Relative to their AL Central peers there is clearly a lot of ground to make up:
- Cleveland Indians (7th): 3.22 ERA in 151.0 IP
- Detroit Tigers (8th): 3.33 ERA in 162.1 IP
- Chicago White Sox (12th): 3.61 ERA in 169.1 IP
- Kansas City Royals (18th): 4.22 ERA in 149.1 IP
Stare at that list for a second and let it sink in. The Twins rotation during the month of July was a run and a half worse than the two teams leading the division.
Looking at the innings pitched rankings the team was again 25th in baseball ahead of the Phillies (142.2), Rockies (141.0), Astros (139.1), Angels (133.0) and Giants (131.0).
Sam Deduno (33.0 IP, 28 H, 11 ER, 14 BB, 18 SO) continued his run as the team’s most consistent and reliable starter. He went at least 6.0 innings in each of his five July starts and four of those five resulted in a quality starts. The positive continue as he’s completed a full 7.0 innings in each of his last three. Deduno’s ERA+ currently sits at 130 putting him just outside the Top-10 in the American League and is surging having allowed just 13 hits and 3 earned runs in his last 21.o innings of work. The natural movement on his pitches does not result in a lot of swings and misses (5.0 SO/9 in 76.1 IP this season) but it does induce a lot of weak contact and an excellent 62.8 ground ball percentage.
Mike Pelfrey (27.2 IP, 28 H, 10 ER, 9 BB, 21 SO) was rolling through his first four July starts before the Royals got to him on the 30th for eight hits and four runs in just 4.0 innings of work. It was his worst start since May 15th but even with that included in his monthly line, he still wound up with a 3.25 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 2.33 SO/BB. He’s pitched better each and every month this season but was so awful in April that he’s still stuck with a 5.31 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in 98.1 IP on the year.
Scott Diamond (26.0 IP, 28 H, 14 ER, 12 BB, 8 SO) has had a rough and wildly inconsistent season and that continued during July. Only once all season has he pitched back-to-back above average starts and we have to go back to the beginning of May to find those. This past month his five starts resulted in the following game scores (50 is average): 54, 21, 56, 25, 60. His first August start was a train wreck so the trend continues. His ERA (currently 5.52) hasn’t been below 5.00 since June 2nd. Diamond was sent down to Rochester today and it’s looking more and more like 2012 was a career year and an aberration.
P.J. Walters (5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO) made his 8th start of the season on July 3rd and though it was better than his previous three outings it wasn’t enough to prevent a trip back to Rochester. Of the nine pitchers that have started a game for the Twins in 2013 Walters’ 4.1 BB/9 and 1.22 SO/BB are the worst of the bunch. His 11.7 H/9 would also be at the bottom of the barrel were it not for Vance Worley’s eyesore 15.2 H/9. Gibson and Worley both trail Walters in ERA+ as well but they’re both 25 with room for improvement and better days ahead (hopefully). The same positive spin can not be applied to P.J. who is 28 years old.
Kevin Correia (25.0 IP, 35 H, 17 ER, 10 BB, 15 SO) had a 2.23 ERA after his 5th start of the season on April 28th. Unfortunately he’s been unable to sustain that level of success and his ERA has been on an upward trend. In his last start on July 31st he allowed a pair of runs and didn’t walk a batter in 6.0 innings but he gave ten hits and could have fared much, much worse. The bloom is off the rose with Correia in the AL and the best the Twins can hope for at this point is that he can resemble a league average pitcher while making $5.5 million in 2014.
Kyle Gibson (27.1 IP, 32 H, 21 ER, 11 BB, 13 SO) is just six starts – five of them coming in July – deep into what will hopefully be a long and productive major league career. As a result he gets a bit of a pass while he works to adapt to the level and cut into his 6.21 ERA. Minnesota desperately needs the 25-year old to develop into the #2/#3 stater they envisioned when he was drafted but for now he just needs to be left alone in the rotation so he can figure things out. Four of his six outings have registered a GSc of around 50 so he’s holding his own most of the time but we haven’t seen him go out and truly dominate an opposing lineup just yet.
Next up we will examine the true bright spot of the 2013 Minnesota Twins roster, the relief corps.