No surprise here. This is exactly what happens when a hard-throwing lefty on a roll comes in and faces a lineup that contains intimidating names like "Punto," "Batista," "White," "Ford," and "Castro." Ok, the last one actually counts if you consider who else has that name. But the point is, if the Twins continue to throw these guys out there, this is exactly what will happen against competition.
On Tuesday, the Twins managed to score runs off an overrated mediocre lefty and a hard-throwing reliever with enough issues to be sent to three different organizations in two years. (Yes, I realize that Cliff Lee was 18-5 last year, but his peripherals weren't phenomal, he has a 4.65 ERA so far this year, a 1.48 WHIP, and he got beat up by KC in his last start.) When the Indians threw C.C. Sabathia and the Cleveland lineup at Brad Radke, the Twins became absolutely punchless.
If Lee is overachieving, then Sabathia is certainly a perennial underachiever. With his stuff (a very hard fastball and good breaking ball from the left side), he is seen and as paid as a staff ace. Whereas in the past, he has been inconsistent, this year, after coming back from an injury, he has been lights out. Nothing was different yesterday. Throwing a six-hit shut-out against the Twins, Sabathia dominated the Twins while the Tribe's offense took care of some weak pitching.
That doesn't even cover all the Twins' problems in the game. How about the three errors, from Cuddyer, Punto, and Batista, that allowed two extra runs? Granted, the Punto error dwells from an awful obstruction call (following by another terrible call against Punto on the bathpaths), but the poorly officiated game certainly isn't the reason for the loss. Cuddyer's bone-headed throw to the wrong man in the second and Batista's booting of a potential play didn't help much either. But when it came down to it, the Twins didn't pitch or hit at all.
Now we have yet another starter throwing away every start who clearly doesn't deserve that much more slack: Radke. The problem, of course, is that he's a "veteran" and knowing how much Gardy and Terry Ryan love those veterans, it's tough to see him getting moved out of the rotation. However, he definitely needs to be. To put it simply, Radke now has allowed as many homers (14) as he has walks to opponents. Opponents are hitting him at a .366/.449/.716 clip against him. His 2.21 K/BB rate is the lowest of his career since his rookie season in 1995 (1.60). His 7.74 ERA is by far the worst of his career.
Since 2004, he has clearly been on the downside of his career. Opponent slugging has gone up from .394 in 2004 to .459 last year to .716 now. His K/G rate is down from 6.2 to 5.4 to 4.9. His HR/G rate has significantly increased, from .99 to 1.52 to 2.20. This can be understood as well by the dramatic increase in his HR/F (Home Run per Flyball) rate, which has gone from 10.5% to 15.6% to 23.1%. His infield fly percentage has gone from 15.1 percent to 14.9 percent (fairly stable) to 6.6 percent. All these stats (brought to you by The Hardball Times) show that Radke is clearly get killed on all levels and that its probably not a fluke.
You'd like to think that he had something left in him, but I think he's done. And for a $9 million player on the Twins roster, that's one big brick to move. I wouldn't consider putting him in the bullpen. All the Twins can do is either let him keep starting (bad idea), try to trade him (doubt he has much value), pressure him to retire (bad business), or see if he's "injured" (see previous idea). Basically, the Twins' hands are probably tied, but he shouldn't be starting. Instead, the next best person is Matt Guerrier, who I already thought should take Lohse's place.
Granted, a Santana-Liriano-Guerrier-Baker-Bonser rotation is far from great. In fact, they'd probably have some bad streaks. But none of these guys is likely to get smashed the way Radke, Silva, and Lohse have. While I doubt they'll make the move on one of the faces of the franchise, they should.