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  • Proving Grounds

    This week's series against the first-place White Sox will serve as a tough test for this Twins team. They've rebounded after a lousy start to go 13-10 over their last 23 games, remaining on the periphery of an AL Central race that no club seems poised to run away with. In three days, the Twins could conceivably be within 5.5 games of first place. They could also find themselves out of it by double digits.

    Perhaps no one will be under a bigger microscope in this crucial showdown than Francisco Liriano. He's been great since returning to the rotation at the end of May, posting a 2.67 ERA and 35-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 30 1/3 innings while allowing only one home run, but his opponents in those five starts have been the Athletics, Royals, Cubs, Brewers and Pirates. Those teams rank 28th, 19th, 25th, 10th and 29th in the majors in OPS, respectively.

    Liriano has been feasting on weak competition, for the most part, and on Monday he'll be matching up against a first-place team with a starter in Jake Peavy who has been flat-out excellent all year.

    It would be a stretch to say the Twins are even on the fringes of contention at this point, but they're not out of it. Climbing back into the mix would require a continued transformation from the rotation, and Liriano will need to be one of the guys leading that charge.

    Both he and the team will have a chance to make a statement at Target Field on Monday night.
    This article was originally published in blog: Proving Grounds started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 24 Comments
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by glunn View Post
      Tomorrow is a big game -- can Hendriks deliver tomorrow and for the rest of the season?
      This one is the key to winning the series, because Thursday looks to be a loss w/ Sale vs. Blackie. The Twins own Floyd & should put up a big number on offense, but not sure if the Aussie can get mad enough at himself to keep AJ and Co. down. I fear for the high potential White Sox scoring total with Manship and Swarzack waiting in the wings in LR.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      If your point is that he's likely to regress, I agree. The notion that he hasn't pitched legitimately well for the Padres is untrue, though. He is, in fact, striking people out – he's averaging a K per inning with SD. In his second-to-last start against the Rangers, he pitched seven innings of two-run ball with 10 strikeouts. Against the Rangers!

      I'm sure his early run with the Padres is unsustainable, but there's no way he was even capable of this kind of production the way he was throwing here. Pretty remarkable turnaround.
      Huh. I must have looked at those strikeout stats wrong.

      Anyway, yes... My point is that he'll regress, not that he'll turn into an awful pitcher. Marquis was just fine in the NL as a back of the rotation pitcher. The Twins' mistake was thinking he could do the same in the AL. I have nothing against the guy, he simply has "fringe NL starter" written all over him. The NL West and PETCO Park will do him a lot of favors.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by TwinsFanLV View Post
      It's still hopeless. Gardenhire and Ryan must go. Anyone spending money at Target field is only helping to prolong the problem.
      Time to change the record, pretty sure it's broken.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      But look what happened with Marquis once he signed the Padres. A change of scenery sometimes is amazingly restorative. Regarding the Twins, if you're hungry and your only means of sustenance is a well, you have to keep sending down the bucket in hopes of finding a fish. The Twins should be looking to sign every pitcher in the waiver-wire well.
      Jason Marquis has allowed 26 hits and 11 BB in 26 innings for the Padres, good for a WHIP of 1.405. He still isn't striking anyone out.

      His ERA is a mirage. He'll be right back to NL-level mediocrity in no time.
      The mirage continues (just a little while longer, anyway) as the Marquis numbers continue to confound: WHIP 1.195 ERA 3.66


      Great article just out tonight on Marquis, with the money quote:

      "One of the reliably entertaining things about baseball is that pitchers you think are done -- because they must be done, must have absolutely nothing left in the tank whatsoever -- surprise you, because they don’t really agree with what you or I think. They’d rather keep giving it a go, and whether you want to celebrate small sample sizes, selective situations or honest-to-god comebacks, they make it happen.

      Enter Jason Marquis stage right, a perfect example of why -- to quote with former Cardinals ace Joaquin Andujar’s “favorite word” -- with pitchers youneverknow. With Saturday night’s two-hit shutout of the Pirates, Marquis provided yet another reminder that as long as someone is still willing to let you play, you have a chance to make your career a going concern."

      "Using Bill James’ fast and fun metric, Game Score, Marquis’ start grades as an 86 against the Pirates, which ties exactly with a career-best mark he’s achieved three times before, for three different teams: in 2005 for the Cardinals against the Nationals; in 2007 for the Cubs against the Pirates; and in 2009 for the Rockies against the Dodgers.

      Matching that with the Padres makes Marquis four-for-four in personal excellence in different team togs, which is perhaps no surprise since Marquis’ career has featured so many resurrections that it’s an open question over who envies him more, cats or zombies."

      This is why I advocated hitting the waiver wire for DFA-available potential SPs available to bolster the Twins, "trying out" for the Twins on the releasing team's dime, rather than the strictly in-house approach- which included a pitcher with virtually no shot as anything but a spot-starter at most, like Duensing. I am not aware if anyone else found someone as bottom-of the-barrel as Marquis was- who then turned it around at all, but for any claimed retreads that don't work out, they get released at essentially no cost.
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