Five Questions from Travis: Carl Pavano


Travis Miller, our White Sox Lead Writer, left a comment on yesterday’s edition of Puddle Jumping. In his comment he listed five questions surrounding the Twins that will play a role in whether they can win the division yet again. I thought his questions each merited a column of their own instead of a mashed-up, brief response in the comments section of one of yesterday’s articles.

I am assuming that the comments he chose to list were semi-rhetorical, and that they were meant to simply display the perceived unsettled state of the White Sox primary competition. Still I can’t help myself. I have to respond because his questions, from a White Sox point of view, intrigue me.

I want to make clear that I agree with Travis primary point that the Minnesota Twins have more questions surrounding their roster at this moment than do the Detroit Tigers or Chicago White Sox. He readily acknowledges Minnesota has potentially improved in some areas over 2010 and he heaps a healthy dose of praise on Ron Gardenhire.

While the Twins may have more questions, I feel they also have more potential answers than any other AL Central team. That have shown themselves to be the most adaptable and most adversity tested team of the bunch.

Question #1:

"Can Carl Pavano provide the same results as he did last year? The Twins went 18-12 in his starts, 10 of which they provided six or more runs of support."

Can Carl Pavano turn in similar results this season? While I am not a huge fan of his, I think he absolutely can and I think the stats back that up.

Pavano didn’t pitch like a world beater in 2010 and he pitched for a team that won 94 games. The Twins were 18-14 in his 32 starts giving them a 0.563 Win-Loss % when he took the mound. That’s actually worse than their overall 0.580 Win-Loss % over the course of the entire season.

As for the run support he received, the Twins finished 5th in the AL in runs scored with 781. That works out to 4.82 runs/game. Pavano got his share of run support, but it was hardly out of line with the team’s normal performance during the course of the season. Minnesota was shutout in 4 of his starts and in 3 of those he gave up 6 runs in 24.0 innings. In the 4th one he gave up 7 runs in 6.0 innings. Bottom line here is that his run support is hardly a reason to be skeptical of his ability to have a similar year. Don’t believe me? How about this little tidbit then: the Twins scored 150 runs in the 32 games Pavano started. That’s an average of 4.69 runs/game which was actually lower than their average per game output

He had a nice 1.5 BB/9 in 2010 which is below his 2.3 career BB/9 but he’s been under 2.0 in 4 of his last 5 seasons so his control was hardly an aberration. He’s been trending that way for a while now and it is sustainable because being a control pitcher is a philosophy he adopted and implemented going back to 2003. Similarly his 4.8 SO/9 last season was in line with expectations. Some years he does a better job of striking guys out and sometimes he’s a little worse.

On the surface, Pavano’s 0.281 BABIP in 2010 was a little low. It might be reasonable to expect a bit of regression here, but he has finished 5 of his 12 career seasons with a BABIP under 0.290. Regression? Maybe but if there is, it won’t be a significant one.

His 2010 ERA+ was 111. I think that is important to keep in mind when looking forward to his role in 2011. He’s a middle of the rotation control artist at this point in his career. I know that a lot of people look at his 17 wins are think he pitched way out over his skiis last season, but that’s just not the case.

In 2010 he turned in a solid and unspectacular season. It was a level of performance that is easily sustainable in 2011 given his skillset.


Tomorrow I will tackle question #2 which centers around Delmon Young.