Thursday, March 13, 2008

2008 Twins starting rotation preview

The Sidler is back with more boring, yet informative analysis for everyone's favorite sub-.500 baseball team! An AL Central preview is coming soon--I'll be going from worst to first, mainly to make sure I get to the Twins before the season starts.

My expectations are low for this year's rotation. It probably won't suck as much as the offense, but at best this is a middle-of-the-pack pitching staff. You have a bunch of young guys and a really shitty veteran, not exactly a recipe for success. The young guys have talent and have put up solid to great numbers in the minor leagues, but that might not be enough to give the team more than one or two starters with sub-league average ERAs (4.39 in 2007).

First, a quick table
You are probably thinking two things. 1) The Sidler's boring and 2) what the F does Aaron Harang's 2004 season have to do with the 2008 Minnesota Twins? That's easy; young pitchers, even ones that go on to be #1/2 starters, can put up some ugly numbers their first few years in the league.

Keep those not-so-good seasons from good to very good pitchers in mind when you look at this next table, the projected stats for YOUR 2008 Minnesota Twins
Scott Baker: I think he can top this projection and will be the de-facto ace. He's always going to have problems with HRs and he probably won't have too many sub-4.00 ERA seasons during his career, but as we saw with Carlos Silva, pumping out league-average seasons is very valuable to teams.

Boof Bonser: We know he's lost weight, but has he also lost the ability to slow down lefties? Despite the inane ramblings of Dick and Bert, it wasn't conditioning that hurt Boof last year, it was left-handed hitters. They combined to put up Albert Pujols numbers against Bonser. Circle that, Bert. That severe RH/LH split was the first of his career, was it an aberration or the beginning of a bad trend? If it was an aberration, Boof will be a solid pitcher this year.

Livan Hernandez: He's probably the opening day starter and will probably be the worst pitcher on the team. Every stat is heading the wrong direction for Livan--HR rate up, walk rate up, strikeouts down...and he's going from the NL to the AL. Awesome. I'll be surprised if his ERA is under 6.

Kevin Slowey: Some good news--very few pitchers have put up minor league numbers like his and then completely failed as a major leaguer. He's a control pitcher that needs to find a way to miss bats more often; it seemed like he led the team in fouls with two strikes last year. His last four starts were big improvement over earlier starts, which gives hope for this year. Expect to hear Bert talk about keeping the ball down endlessly during Slowey's starts this season since he is going to give up plenty of HRs again. I really like that Mike Mussina is one of his top comparables.

Francisco Liriano: Here's the big question mark. Fox Sports has been showing old Twins games lately and I caught part of one featuring Liriano, it is easy to forget just how electric this kid was in 2006. WAY too much analysis is being done on his first two Spring Training starts. My hope for 2008 is that he improves as the year goes on, doesn't have any injuries, and he doesn't top 150 innings.

Two Mets dudes: Whatever. They'll be better than Livan if they get a chance. Mulvey's a real groundball pitcher--unlike Silva, who actually wasn't much of a groundball pitcher--and as you can see, that's a rarity on this team.

There you have it, the 2008 Twins rotation. Maybe they should run with the slogan "At least we aren't as shitty as the offense."


WWWWWW said...

Holy crap that's depressing.

The Todd said...

That's why you should bring, at a minimum, two flasks per game to the dome this year.

The Sidler said...

That's a much better slogan:

"Twins Baseball - you're going to need two flasks!"

Since I have placed my expectations in the tank, I'm actually not too depressed about this year's team. Of course my tune will change when KC sweeps them to take over 4th place in the division.

Dharma Bum said...

Where did you get your projections?
Young pitchers are tough, but we have enough of them that hopefully a couple pan out.

The Sidler said...

Just noticed this question...I mixed and matched PECOTA and ZIPS.

I agree that some of the youngsters will pan out, but even the ones that do will struggle.

WWWWWW said...

Would you sign up for the DWG bracket contest already. You too Kerouac boy.