Thursday, July 07, 2011

I'm Here to Praise Carl Pavano

Let me start with what should be an obvious qualifier--for the first two months of baseball, the Twins were one of the worst teams in the league.  Injuries, new players, a (still) shaky bullpen--all of those things combined with some pretty bad starting pitching led them to be 16 games behind first place in the American Central when June kicked off.

At the beginning of July, they've finally clawed their way to a home record just over .500, and have cut the lead in half.

I've never been a huge believer in Carl Pavano, but what he has done with his last ten starts shows that while he may not be the ace (there's some debate as to who might be, if anyone, but it is probably Scotty Baker, as long as his elbow injury isn't too serious).  And to be clear--this isn't a fulminating blast against whoever for Pavano not being in the All Star Game.  Nothing of the sort--Pavano's season hasn't been great; his past month and a half has been.  I'm just saying--hey, take a look at his last 10 starts--the guy has been pretty amazingly consistent.

Tonight would be the tenth start of that run, and it was pretty similar to everything else he has done in the past 6 weeks or so.  Seven solid innings, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, 2 runs (WHIP 1.29).  That was his seventh quality (6 innings, 3 ER) start in the last ten games.  He's only 4-2 over that span, which might be why he hasn't gotten much notice nationally.

But in those 10 starts combined (starting with a win against Oakland on May 18) he's pitched 75.2 innings of the 93 innings played in those games, or over 80%.  When you have a bullpen like Minnesota's, it's hugely important to have a veteran inning eater.  And he's certainly done that--he went over 120 innings pitched on the season tonight.

During this ten game stretch, Pavano has issued less than one walk a game, and that includes a 3-walk game on June 15 (in which Pavano went nine innings and gave up one run).  Pavano's WHIP will probably never be much more than average, even though he walks batters so rarely, simply because he does have a tendency to give up hits (just as important--those hits tend to be the "scattered" variety).

On May 13, the game before this stretch started, Pavano had an ERA of 5.89.  During this 10 game stretch, it was 2.99 (and now hovering around 4.00 for the year going into the All-Star Break).

A lot of folks* questioned what the Twins were doing when they re-signed Pavano in the offseason for a two year deal.  It was opined in the local press that the Twins were paying foolishly for 2010 Pavano, and 2011 Pavano was anyone's guess.  And for the first couple months of the season, they looked right.  But it appears that Pavano has turned a corner, and can be that reliable, productive innings eater the Twins need him to be.

*not so much from the statistician crowd, it should be noted.

No comments: