Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pen Revival

Lately on this blog, we have had many posts discussing the numerous problems with bullpen, as well as small sample sizes as a means of assessment. I am certainly one who subscribes to the notion that you can't take too much out of a small sample size, because there is probably too much chance involved to be sure if the success you are seeing is truly sustainable.

At the same time, there can be nothing wrong with basking in the glow of immediate returns in short term as long as the basic principles of sustainability are kept in the background. With that in mind, its fairly certain that the MVP of last night's game was the Twins bullpen, which kept a close game going long enough for the Twins to get the insurance they needed to pull out a 6-5 victory that brought them within a 1/2 game of the Pale Hosers.

Jesse Crain, Dennys Reyes, Matt Guerrier, and Joe Nathan combined for three innings of solid relief work that -- while not dominating -- was effective. With two strikeouts via Guerrier, three hits allowed, and only one walk, the bullpen earned three "holds" and a save, despite the solo home run that Nathan allowed to Nick Swisher to bring the game within a run in the ninth. With so much negativity surrounding the bullpen situation lately, it felt almost necessary to give the unit its due when it did its job in preserving an important Twins lead and playing a significant role in a victory.

Of course, the bullpen was not the only player in the victory, as Glen Perkins did manage to battle through six innings to pick up his eighth victory, even though he was not terribly effective as shown by the nine base-runners he allowed. The offense was also not fantastic, despite scoring six runs, as they only had nine hits -- only one for extra-bases -- to go with two walks, but they made up for this deficit the way they have most of the year with an incredible five two-out RBI, two from Joe Mauer and three from Justin Morneau on a key three-run double in the fifth.

Tonight, the Twins face perhaps their biggest challenge of the series in Gavin Floyd. Floyd has gotten fairly lucky this year, with a very unimpressive 85/53 K/BB ratio (though he does have 10 wins, so there is no doubt his success is sustainable), a 4.95 FIP, a 4.76 xFIP, and a 4.80 RA that does not scream dominance by most standards, despite having only allowed 100 hits in 123 innings, but rather an extreme amount of luck. Nonetheless, the Twins have struggled against him this year, only managing to put up six runs and twelve hits in 21 1/3 innings so far this year. Of course, given these statistics, luck may finally show up on the Twins side and if that is the case, they could be divisional leaders by the end of the night.

7 comments:

toby said...

though he does have 10 wins, so there is no doubt his success is sustainable

Thank you, nick, for making the more than a little drunken me laugh my ass off. Yes, I got the sarcasm.

If only the Twins didn't have an even bigger pile taking the hill tomorrow than the White Sox do, I'd figure it was a lock. Maybe we can win 12-11, be happy and "prove" (one game doesn't actually prove anything, of course) a point in the process.

Last night's win was very lucky to judge by the radiocast. It sounded from the lovable babblings (and I *DO* love them -- radio baseball is one place I don't necessarily require technical competence) like a lot of sharply hit balls and linedrives off Sox bats became outs for the Twins, whereas Morneau's double could easily have been the third out given a better glove in right field (that I saw on the intertron). With Casilla gone, this team is gonna need a TON of luck to make the postseason. I don't even want to talk about Punto at second vs. short. Seriously, if they keep Livan as a starter the rest of the way I'm thinking the Twins finish 5-7 games out. That's my head, not my heart.

Nick M. said...

Obviously, having Everett and Punto up the middle is not going to be great for our offense and frankly, the defense may suffer too if Everett hasn't improve at all in his arm action. Regardless, Hernandez's ERA is likely, I think, to rise over the next two months and with that in mind, he might be "worth" a few losses, but we'll see. Its hard to know if he will be the reason the Twins don't make the postseason, but I doubt he'll be the reason they do.

Nick M. said...

I should also note that Everett isn't probably going to be starting much, as Brendan Harris will be, but it wouldn't change my comment that much, since Harris is not very much on defense and his offense has been a disappointment so far this year.

Anonymous said...

Relating to this Post, and the previous -- let's get Lirinao up here, and in the pen. Livan has erected far too much of a psychological model to be shifted, both this year, and throughout his career. He's been credited myriad times, by various picthers, regarding their appreciation and respect for trudging along through shitty starts. To shift him now might confuse the young guns.

Liriano, in my belief, would benefit via simply donning an MLB jersey again, wherever he's slated to pitch.

Judd
C.P. Twins Blogger

toby said...

A. I am hammered. Forgive accordingly.

B. I freaking LOVED watching those innings get eaten alive tonight. Outs were mf'ing PRODUCED, people. TWELVE of them beeotches. I don't understand Gardy. If he'd just've let Livan keep pitching he totes would've shut down the Pale Hose the rest of the way, cause that's how he rolls. Tease 'em a little, then he steps up and does it like he can when he wants to. He got totally unlucky to give up all of 5 earned on 11 WH in 4 ip. Everybody knows Livan's got that patented inning eater ability to turn 11 HP in 4 IP into, like, 2 runs on a normal night. He just fell on the evil side of the curve tonight. I'm predicting next time, 8 IP (that's 24 outs produced and don't you forget it!), 29 WH, 4 runs and he gives "us" a chance.

C. All of the foregoing would be grossly unfair if it wasn't exactly what the numbers hithertofore predicted.

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