Levale Speigner Report

Here’s something that I compiled over the season, that I haven’t even looked at until now. I thought it was somewhat interesting (obviously, since I spent the time to compile the numbers), but we’ll see whether it was worth it.

Levale Speigner made 6 starts this season for the Washington Nationals. In the five starts against a team other than the Twins, he never lasted more than 4 innings, he allowed 30 earned runs, and 49 baserunners (hits+walks) in 17 2/3 IP.

Of course, against the Twins, this was his line: 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 SO for his only victory as a starter.

Anecdotally, this seemed to be a pattern for the Twins this season. When they faced a struggling pitcher (probably young, especially left-handed) they seem to have enormous struggles putting up any kind of offense. I know it’s easy to remember getting only 2 hits off of a pitcher like Speigner, but if Minnesota had knocked out 7 or 8 hits in five innings and put some runs on the board, the game would have been quickly forgotten. Do the Twins actually struggle more against below average pitchers? Or is this a case of selective memory making a problem seem worse than it actually is?

To investigate that question, I looked at the 93 different opposing starting pitchers the Twins faced in 2007. I looked at the 5 starts immediately preceding their start against the Twins for each opposing starter (if they didn’t have 5 starts under their belt, I just took the 5 starts closest to their start against the Twins) to get an idea of how the pitchers were doing about the time they faced Minnesota. I calculated FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) as well as the more conventional ERA statistic for the 5 starts. Then I calculated runs per nine innings and WHIP for the start against the Twins.

Data and all that after the jump.

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Wins, Losses, and Saves (A New Look)

Is the save a misleading statistic? It is certainly governed by a strange set of rules. Most simply stated, a save is awarded to the pitcher who finishes a game (who isn’t in line for the win) who entered the game with a lead of three runs or less unless there are less than three outs remaining when the pitcher entered. Then you have to consider runners on base and outs in the inning to determine whether a save should be awarded. This doesn’t even bring up the elusive three-inning save, but the point is that the save could be considered a somewhat overengineered statistic. Personally, I’m in favor of overengineered statistics (just wait, you’ll see) but given that current bullpen usage is designed to maximize save opportunities for the designated “closer”, the number of saves across the board has become inflated and almost the sole property of designated closers.

There is a growing sentiment which holds that the save, in the current era, doesn’t necessarily measure what it claims to. For example, consider the Twins game of July 29, 2007:

Neshek enters with one out in the 8th inning, Twins lead 3-1, one runner on, one out. He gets Ryan Garko to ground into a double play to get out of the inning.

Lew Ford hits a homer before Nathan enters in the ninth with a three-run lead. He doesn’t allow a run and is awarded a save for his efforts.

Now, both pitchers were effective, but one could argue that the situation that Neshek stepped into was more crucial to the outcome of the game, with the tying run at the plate Neshek ended the threat. That seems deserving of a save as well.

Inspired by this situation, and borrowing a bit from a Baseball Prospectus article, I set out to generate some new criteria for bullpen performance making use of Win Probability Added (WPA, which can be found at fangraphs.com). Going forward, these criteria will be used to award a save (remember, I promised overengineering):

  • WPA of 10.0 or higher.
  • Highest WPA of relief pitchers not earning a win.
  • If starter has WPA greater than or equal to 10.0, the win goes to the starter, otherwise, highest WPA (over 10.0) gets the win.

You may notice that for relief pitchers, there’s not much difference betwixt a win and a save, so I’ve combined the two under the heading Relief Win in the table at the end of this article.

This method makes it a little more difficult to determine save opportunities so its difficult to see if someone is converting opportunities at a high rate, or just receiving a lot of chances. So, let’s check out the opposite of a Relief Win, the Relief Loss:

  • Loss goes to the lowest WPA less than or equal to -10.0
  • Blown save awarded if WPA less than or equal to -10.0 and lead is lost or goes from tied to behind when the pitcher is in the game.

Using these two stats (Relief Wins and Relief Losses) we can get a rough percentage of how a relief pitcher has affected a teams wins/losses. Collecting all this data for the 2007 Minnesota Twins bullpen gives the data below (+G = WPA over 0.0, ++G = WPA over 9.9, –G = WPA under -9.9). The “Score” column gives more positive weight to higher WPA and Relief Wins, while also punishing lower WPA and Relief Losses.

Starter G +G ++G –G RW-RL Score
Joe Nathan 62 54 23 7 18-7 16.5
Pat Neshek 74 56 20 5 9-4 12.3
Matt Guerrier 69 48 13 6 6-6 5.5
Nick Blackburn 3 3 2 0 1-0 1.6
Ramon Ortiz 18 12 1 0 1-0 1.5
Carmen Cali 24 17 2 1 1-1 1.4
Glen Perkins 13 8 1 0 0-0 0.7
Kevin Slowey 2 1 1 0 0-0 0.4
Jason Miller 4 3 0 0 0-0 0.2
Matt Garza 1 1 0 0 0-0 0.1
Jesse Crain 18 12 3 3 1-3 -0.4
Juan Rincon 59 38 4 6 1-6 -1.6
Julio DePaula 12 8 0 2 0-1 -0.9
Dennys Reyes 50 30 1 4 0-2 -1.2

No surprise that Nathan, Neshek, and Guerrier are the top three, but it’s pretty surprising that there is such a dropoff after that. Nick Blackburn has only pitched in three games, but well enough to earn one Relief Win (a save) and lead the middling pack of relievers (Miller, Perkins, Cali, Ortiz). Rincon and Reyes have been pretty bad, and they’ve gotten lots of chances to prove it (again, not groundbreaking, but it shows that the method holds some water). Recently it seems that Neshek and Guerrier have been getting used a lot, but looking at these numbers, there aren’t many effective options in an important situation.

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One Good Week: Scott Baker

SCOTT BAKER June 26 – July 3

(2 GS, 0-1, 1.20 ERA, 15 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 12 K)

From the outset, 2007 was an important season for Scott Baker. He had spent portions of the last two years with the Twins (with varying degrees of success), and this season would go a long way toward determining the role Baker would play with the organization in the future. Coming into the 2007 season, he was one of many young pitchers that were vying for a position in the rotation. Well, we all know how spring training turned out; Sidney Ponson and Ramon Ortiz started the season with the major league team while Baker, Matt Garza, and Kevin Slowey began the season in Rochester at AAA. The two veterans were eventually phased out of the rotation while Slowey and Baker were called up as their replacements.

Baker had an impressive debut campaign in 2005 (see table below for numbers) but followed that up with a bit of a disappointing 2006 (again, the table below has numbers to back me up). Meanwhile, despite his struggles last year, Baker dominated AAA in ’06 and ’07 which only reinforced that he had little to prove except at the major league level. On May 19, Baker was called up and delivered an impressive first start against Milwaukee (8.1 IP, 2 ER). In his next 5 starts, Baker posted an ERA of 8.37 with a WHIP of 1.94 while not lasting 6 innings in any of the five starts. The outlook at that point was less than sunny, but Baker turned things around for at least a week with the two starts noted above. In fact, in his last two starts, the only thing more adept at preventing runs than Baker has been the Twins offense. Baker received one run of support in 16 innings of Twins “offense”.

2005 9 3-3 52.2 20 47 14 32 3.42 1.16 .240
2006 16 5-8 83.1 59 114 16 62 6.37 1.56 .324
2007 8 2-3 47.0 26 50 11 35 4.98 1.30 .273

The Twins offense is not the subject of this article however. Scott Baker’s recent success is. Looking at his numbers season by season it’s obvious that opponents were hitting Baker harder in 2006 than his other seasons (BAA and WHIP higher, BB rate constant), resulting in a much higher ERA. Looking at some other rate stats (another table coming up) it is clear that is the result of Scott’s HR/FB returning to a more normal 12.5% from an unsustainably low rate in 2005. Also it seems he was a little bit unlucky as the BABIP of his opponents was significantly higher than normal. Once again the .264 BABIP in 2005 is probably unsustainable for a young pitcher like Baker, as examples Fransisco Liriano and Johan Santana had BABIP of .286 and .273 respectively in 2006. Baker’s difficulties arose from the fact that he was allowing a lot of HR due to his high HR/FB and his low GB/FB percentage. Even when the ball stayed in the park, batters were reaching safely (probably due to the higher line drive percentage). This year, so far the BABIP has returned to something closer to normal with a corresponding drop in line drive percentage. The HR/FB ratio has remained a bit of a concern, but the effect of that has been mitigated somewhat by the fact that there have been a lot fewer fly balls in general due to an increase in the GB/FB ratio.

2005 5.5 0.83 23.8% 7.1% .264
2006 6.7 0.72 29.5% 12.5% .355
2007 6.7 1.18 23.4% 13.7% .305

In Baker’s last two starts he has accumulated a WPA of +0.502 compared to -0.857 in his previous 5 starts. He has kept the ball in the park (1 HR in 15 IP, 7.7% HR/FB) while inducing a good amount of ground balls (1.23 GB/FB ratio). Couple that with a slight kick in strikeout rate (7.2 K/9) and you have an extremely effective starting pitcher on your hands. Baker has certainly gotten a bit lucky in these starts, evidenced by the .167 BABIP this week. While that is not always going to be the case, the hope is that going forward from here the Twin’s offense will give Scott a little more breathing room, so that even with the inevitable correction in BABIP and HR/FB, the more frequent occurrence of ground balls and strikeouts will be enough to increase the likelihood of success in Baker’s starts this season.

Grading the Bullpen

With an off day on Monday coinciding with the end of April, plenty of Twins bloggers took the opportunity to recap the season so far. Given their excellent work, I won’t throw my hat in that ring, but rather we’re going to take a more focused look at one aspect of the Twins ballclub, the bullpen.

Coming into this season, the Twins starting rotation was a sizeable question mark, but the bullpen was considered to be a strength. Juan Rincon, Pat Neshek, Jesse Crain, Dennys Reyes, Matt Guerrier, and one of the best closers in the game Joe Nathan were all returning pieces from a very solid bullpen last year. Glen Perkins started the year in AAA Rochester, but was quickly called up to provide an extra arm for Ron Gardenhire out of the pen. The Twins starters have averaged just over 6 innings per start, and at least one member of the bullpen has appeared in every game thus far this season, pitching 77 innings in 26 games. Given the importance of the bullpen and its perceived strength, let’s take a look at how they are performing thus far.

Here are some selected stats for the Twins bullpen, listed alphabetically by middle initial (WXRL and Leverage stats are current through the weekend series):

Jesse A. Crain 10 10.0 7 10 2 5 1.20 -0.161 1.57 4.5 1.8
Pat J. Neshek 12 12.0 3 6 4 12 0.83 0.969 1.06 9.0 3.0
Juan M. Rincon 11 10.2 2 10 8 14 1.69 0.182 1.64 11.8 6.8
Joe M. Nathan 12 12.1 3 16 4 12 1.62 0.899 2.04 8.8 2.9
Matt O. Guerrier 11 16.0 4 6 4 8 0.63 0.739 0.83 4.5 2.3
Dennys V. Reyes 15 7.2 6 13 7 7 2.61 -0.143 1.00 8.2 8.2
Glen W. Perkins 6 8.1 4 7 6 7 1.56 -0.002 0.63 7.6 6.5

First a word on the grades that you’re about to see. I started everyone off at a C, and then, for a good performance, I bumped them up, and conversely, for a bad performance the overall grade dropped. I’m an optimist by nature, so I’ve tried to keep that in check a little bit by using Win Probability Added (which can be found at FanGraphs.com for each game) to settle any borderline performances.

Jesse A. Crain

Highest WPA – 4/3 vs. Bal, entered with Twins leading 3-2 with 2 outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd, faced a single batter, inducing a flyout to end the inning
Lowest WPA – 4/29 @ Det, entered a 3-3 tie, and, after one scoreless inning, gave up the game winning homerun to Brandon Inge

Recently Crain has certainly struggled. He was on the mound when the Indians broke a 3-3 tie in the 12th by scoring 4 runs (all charged to Jesse), and he also gave up Brandon Inge’s walk-off homerun on Sunday. Perhaps these struggles are a result of a shoulder strain which kept him out for seven games (WPA before 24.5 in 4 games, WPA after -31.4 in 7 games). He’s been used in high leverage situations, only Joe Nathan and Juan Rincon have a higher leverage index, and has done relatively well when brought into pressure situations. He has only allowed 1 of his 6 inherited runners to score (that was in the Yankees series with the Twins already trailing 6-0). He also hasn’t got into too many jams, he’s finished every inning he’s started except the aforementioned debacle against the Indians in the 12th.

His WXRL is the lowest on the team thus far, and he hasn’t really given us much to be optimistic about recently. Hopefully his shoulder will get back to full strength and his early season success will return.
Ray’s Grade: C- (his early season success keeps this from a D)

Pat J. Neshek

Highest WPA – 4/23 vs. Cle, entered a tie game with the bases loaded and 2 out and retired the first batter with a strikeout. He also added another scoreless inning in the outing.
Lowest WPA – 4/19 @ Sea, entered with the Twins leading 6-2. Pat allowed a hit, a walk, and a homeru in 2/3 of an inning.

Neshek has been outstanding, the only runs he has allowed this year were on the homerun in a game where it made very little difference in the outcome of the game. He has inherited 8 runners and not allowed any of them to score. At no point has Neshek left the game with runners on base. The first batter Neshek has faced is hitting .111/.250/.222 with 4 strikeouts in 12 plate appearances, while with runners on the numbers are similar, .136/.174/.318.

Neshek is one of two Twins relievers with a WHIP below 1.00, he has the highest WXRL of the bullpen. Oddly, his leverage index is hovering around 1. I would predict that number to come up as Gardenhire uses Neshek in more pressure packed situations with his continued success.
Ray’s Grade: A-

Juan M. Rincon

Highest WPA – 4/26 v. KC, entered a 0-0 tie and pitched a 1-2-3 inning.
Lowest WPA – 4/12 v. TB, entered with a 2-0 lead, pitched 1/3 of an inning allowing a homerun, two singles, and a walk, allowing the Rays to tie the game before Neshek bailed him out.

It’s difficult to asses Rincon, because even his good outings just aren’t that inspiring, he’s only had two outings where he hasn’t allowed a baserunner. Rincon has the second highest leverage index in the bullpen behind Joe Nathan, he’s pitched marginally well in pressure situations. His WPA is hurt by the very bad outing versus Tampa (-50.5 WPA) which counters his other 10 appearances (+51.4 WPA) of which the lowest is -1. He has allowed 3 of the 5 runners he has inherited to score and on 3 different outings othe
r members of the bullpen have saved his bacon, of the 5 runners the bullpen has inherited from Rincon, none of them have scored.

Ray’s Grade: B- (not enough positive outings to improve this too much)

Joe M. Nathan

Highest WPA – 4/26 v. KC, entered 0-0 tie and pitched two scoreless innings
Lowest WPA – 4/15 v. TB, entered 4-4 tie, allowed hits to the first three batters and took the loss, allowing two runs.

Other than back-to-back rough outings against Tampa Bay, Joe Nathan has been very good this year. Of course, we’ve come to expect nothing less. Nathan’s numbers aren’t quite what we are used to however. Opposing batters are hitting .320/.370/.420 against him including .345/.367/.414 with runners on base. When entering with a lead (8 games) Nathan has only allowed one run and racked up 36.7 WPA, compared to -37.6 WPA in the other 4 games.

Obviously, I’d like to see Nathan’s WHIP come down some, but overall, as long as he continues to be lights out with the lead, I’ll be happy. The other concerning stat I came across is that Nathan has thrown by far the most pitches of any of the relievers (222, next closest was 195 by Neshek in the same amount of innings) so that will definitely be something to watch for going forward.
Ray’s Grade: B

Matt O. Guerrier

Highest WPA – 4/26 vs. KC, entered a 0-0 tie with runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 out. He retired the first batter he faced, and added two more scoreless innings.
Lowest WPA – 4/20 @ KC, entered with Twins trailing 7-6. Allowed a homerun in his first inning, then allowed the first two batters to reach (single, hit by pitch) in his second. Rincon and Reyes allowed both of those runners to score.

Guerrier has been the surprise of the bullpen thus far this season. Originally expected to be an innings eater, he’s pitched so well that we’ve started to see him in more important situations. In contrast to Joe Nathan’s 18.0 pitches per inning, Guerrier has breezed through his appearances at 12.5 P/IP. Matt has the second highest WPA of the Twins bullpen, and has not allowed any of his six inherited runners to score (including 4/18 @ Sea, when he entered with the bases loaded and one out and got out of it with a strikeout and a flyout).

Essentially Guerrier has done everything asked of him. He has a higher WXRL than Reyes, Rincon, and Crain despite having a much lower leverage index. That WXRL is due to nothing more than excellent pitching. He has the lowest WHIP of the relievers and he has finished every inning except the one outing in Kansas City.
Ray’s Grade: B+

Dennys V. Reyes

Highest WPA – 4/12 v. TB, entered with the Twins leading 2-0 with a runner on second with 2 out. Reyes retired the only batter he faced with a strikeout.
Lowest WPA – 4/18 @ Sea, entered with the Twins leading 5-3 with runners on first and second with 1 out. Reyes loaded the bases with a single to the only batter he faced. Matt Guerrier came in and got out of the jam (see above).

Reyes has not been good. It’s not fair to compare to his numbers last year, because that was a career year for almost any reliever, but regardless, he has had 3 outings where he didn’t record an out, and 12 of 15 outings he’s allowed a runner to reach base. The rest of the bullpen has inherited 17 runners from Dennys and only allowed one to score. On the plus side, while Dennys was on the mound he hasn’t allowed any of his 8 inherited runners to score.

His WHIP is outrageous, but perhaps more disturbing is the performance of Reyes against the first batter he faced in his appearances. They are hitting .500/.600/.833! This is not what you want to see from someone who comes out of the bullpen usually with the purpose of getting one or two batters.
Ray’s Grade: F

Glen W. Perkins

Highest WPA – 4/23 v. Cle, entered trailing 3-0. Pitched 2.1 scoreless innings as the Twins tied the game.
Lowest WPA – 4/20 v. KC, entered trailing 5-4 with a runner on first and 1 out. He allowed that runner to score as well as one more, giving up 3 hits and a walk.

Perkins hasn’t pitched poorly, but he certainly hasn’t wowed anyone either. His WXRL and leverage tell the story, Glen Perkins has been a replacement level pitcher, used in situations that call for a replacement level pitcher. He has walked a batter in five of his six outings, which is something that needs to change for Perkins to become an effective pitcher.
Ray’s Grade: C

Those are my grades. Seth, over at Seth Speaks, has also assigned grades to all the Twins players for April, including the bullpen. Here’s how my grades stack up with his. The weighted GPA (4.0 scale) takes into account the number of innings pitched and the leverage index so that those who pitched more innings in pressure situations have grades that count for more.

PITCHER Ray’s Grade Seth’s Grades
Jesse A. Crain C- D
Pat J. Neshek A- A-
Juan M. Rincon B- B+
Joe M. Nathan B C+
Matt O. Guerrier B+ B+
Dennys V. Reyes F F
Glen W. Perkins C C-
Bullpen GPA 2.33 2.19
Weighted GPA 2.58 2.40

So, the overall grade for the bullpen thus far is a C+/B-. That seems a little bit low given that this is still viewed as one of the best bullpens in the majors. Perhaps it’s an indication of the high expectations that come along with the previous success of this bullpen. Anyway, those are my thoughts on the Twins bullpen. Where do you disagree? Was I too harsh? too lenient? Let me know in the comments.

One Good Week: Carlos Silva

CARLOS SILVA, Apr.6 – Apr.13
(2GS, 0-1, 0.77 ERA, 11.2IP, 12H, 3BB, 5K)

Coming into the season, there was much hue and cry about Carlos Silva’s presence on the roster. The Twins exercised Silva’s option this offseason for $4.35 million, and then he had a terrible spring training, posting an 8.44 ERA in five starts and one relief appearance. He pitched 21.1 innings and allowed 31 hits to go with 4 walks and 2 hit batsmen. That’s 1.73 baserunners per inning. Nonetheless, he was given a spot in the rotation over Matt Garza and was slated for his 2007 debut in Chicago to open the second series of the season.

That game was cancelled due to inclement weather, but Silva was sent out the next day and pitched 5 solid innings, only allowing 1 run on 5 hits (all singles), a walk, and a hit batsman. Jermaine Dye was the recipient of the hit by pitch, so I’m counting that as a point in Carlos’ favor. Unfortunately, the Twins offense couldn’t solve Javy Vasquez and Silva left trailing 0-1, eventually taking the loss as the Twins fell 3-0 to the South Siders.

It’s fair to say Twins fans were skeptical after the first start. Everyone agreed that Silva deserved a win for his effort, but few were convinced that this would become a regular occurrence. Then Silva took the ball on Thursday and shut out the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for 6 2/3 innings, leaving the game with a 2-0 lead. Silva gave up 7 hits and walked two while striking out 4. Juan Rincon allowed the Rays to tie the game, leaving Silva with a no decision in the eventual 3-2 Twins victory, but that made two excellent starts for Silva which I felt merited a closer look.

Silva is an interesting case to look at, because he has always given up a lot of baserunners; remember the 11-hit shutout of the Angels? His WHIPs for the last three years were 1.43, 1.17, and 1.54, so the real difference betwixt a good start and a bad start for Carlos is whether those baserunners are allowed in the same inning or scattered throughout the game. This trend is continuing so far this year. Silva has only one 1-2-3 inning so far this year, and has allowed a hit in 10 of the 12 innings he has pitched. However, he has been able to keep posting zeros because only twice has he allowed more than one hit in an inning. So, when you see a 1.29 WHIP thus far this season, that’s because Silva really is allowing almost exactly one hit every inning.

The key has always been keeping the ball down and using his sinker to induce large quantities of ground balls, as well as limiting the number of walks, since there are already enough runners on without giving up free passes. So to assess how Silva was controlling the count and working ahead of hitters I looked at what count the ball was put in play and what the results were.

COUNT 0-0 0-1 0-2 1-0 1-1 1-2 2-0 2-1 2-2 3-0 3-1 3-2
Chicago 1-2 1-2 0-3 0-3
0-1 1-2 1-2 1-3
Tampa Bay 0-2 1-1
0-2 3-6
1-1 0-4 0-1
BB BB 0-1
# of pitches 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
Chicago 1-2 1-2 0-3 0-3 1-3 1-3
0-1 1-1
Tampa Bay 0-2 1-3 5-10 1-10
BB 0-2

Silva hasn’t been involved in very many marathon at bats. Again, this tells us that hitters don’t foul off pitches when Silva is pitching, if they’re hit, they’re going to be in play.* Also Tampa apparently loves to swing the bat, with only 3 at bats getting past the fourth pitch, while almost half the White Sox extended their at bats past 4 pitches. The other thing I noticed with this data was that those at bats that ended quickly were less likely to end with ground balls than other at bats. A closer look yielded the following:

Overall – 43% GB
1st or 2nd pitch – 11% (9 balls in play)
3rd through 5th pitch – 64% (25 balls in play)
6+ pitches – 0% (6 balls in play)

It’s a small sample size, but this whole exercise is based on two starts, so bear with me. It seems that Silva tries to get ahead with his fastball early, and if that is put in play it’s almost always in the air. Later in the at bat, the sinker plays a larger role and an impressive 64% of balls in play are on the ground. I also looked at some of the splits to see if the GB% increased with runners on base, but there was very little difference (47% with runners on base, 42% with the bases empty). Especially in the Tampa game, Silva seemed to bear down with runners on (see chart below) but not necessarily through the ground ball, I guess.

OTHER STATS BF RHB LHB Empty Runners GB% K% 1st strike 1st ball
Chicago 20 2-9 3-9
3-9 2-9
35% 5% 3-8
Tampa Bay 29 3-13
48% 14% 3-17

Other interesting points on the first two starts; left-handers seem to get on base better against Carlos (OBP – .385 LHB, .261 RHB) but that’s also due to the fact that all of his walks were issued to lefties (is that weird?). Predictably, Silva fared much better when starting out with a first pitch strike (OBP – .391 ball, .269 strike). Carlos is not known as a strikeout pitcher, of the 20 batters who reached 2-strike counts, he fanned 5 of them (25%). Overall, Silva was remarkably consistent in the number of pitches per inning (avg. – 15.9), with the one hiccup coming in the very first inning of the year (the only inning he allowed a run).

P/Inn. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Chicago 32 12 20 7 16
Tampa Bay 16 15 12 18 12 16 10

It seems that the Tampa game was the better pitched of the two; observe the higher GB%, the higher K%, and the fantastic 0-10 with runners on base. In fact, it seems Silva was a little lucky to escape with only one run allowed against Chicago. It always seems like more runs should be allowed with all those baserunners, but, nonetheless, Silva has turned in two quality performances this week. I don’t think that anyone would argue that it’s realistic for this to continue all season, but if a few of these types of outings are interspersed with more average outings in the future, Twins fans should be pleasantly surprised.

Keep up the good work Carlos!

* After making this statement, I went and looked it up. In these two games, in 49 plate appearances, 40 balls were put in play and hitters hit 37 fouls (6 from one Darin Erstad at bat). Not as big of a difference as I thought, but technically I was correct.