2012 Twins Preview 1/5: Pitch Perfect…Or Pitch Poor?
Though chicks may indeed big the long balls, true baseball fans know the conversation ALWAYS begins and ends with pitching in terms of being competitive.
Thus, for this first Twins preview, here is a look at the starting rotation…
#1: Carl Pavano
-Carl Pavano is not an ace. Carl Pavano is not a #2 starter. What is Carl Pavano? He’s an innings-eater who can win 15 games if the team behind him can field the ball cleanly and the offense can score him 4-5 runs. Neither thing happened in 2011, and thus Pavano sagged in the stats department. His effectiveness will depend most heavily on the defense behind him.
#2: Francisco Liriano
-Twins fans already (I hope) have come to grips with the fact that Liriano will never again morph into that dominant pitcher he was in 2006. Now, however, he must prove that he has a future of effectiveness. He is perhaps the most unpredictable pitcher I’ve ever seen in a Twins uniform. A complete and utter question mark heading into ’12. He could be the ace…or his ERA could be above 5.00 all season long.
#3: Scott Baker
-When Baker is healthy, he is a very solid 2-3 rotation guy. But, alas, health has been perpetually fleeting for this young man. His tendinitis is already acting up this Spring, so I just have this “here we go again” feeling with him.
#4: Nick Blackburn
-Will anyone ever figure this guy out? There are two things I can say with 100 % certainty about Blackie: 1. At some point, he will look unhittable, like a legitimate staff ace. 2. At another point, he may get demoted to the minors for a complete inability to get a single batter out. Whichever pattern holds true the longest in ’12 will define Blackburn’s season.
#5: Jason Marquis
-The new guy to the bunch. He needs to be another Pavano to have value to this club, as he can’t dominate hitters. If he throws 200 innings, I would consider his season (no matter the stats) a success.
In 2012, the Twins will start the season (as will all other clubs) with five “monkeys jumping on the bed” in the starting rotation. Their overall success, however, will likely be determined by how many times “Mama has to call the doctor”. If good health holds true, the starting staff could really shape up from the mess of ’11 and look a bit more like ’10. If guys start dropping like flies, though, it will thin out the entire pitching staff and the strain will show through.