13 April 2010
Through the first eight games of the regular season, the Twins’ starting rotation has looked fantastic. The starting five have made eight starts thus far this season, and have a collective ERA of 3.41, which is the 6th lowest mark in the league. (When relievers are factored into the equation, the team’s ERA drops to 2.88, which is 3rd in the league.)
While just 5 percent of the season has been played, and it isn’t known whether or not the Twins’ starting staff can maintain this success, the results through the first eight games have been very good.
The fact that Carl Pavano is the starting pitcher with the best results this far is an unexpected surprise.
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Generally regarded as a decent middle-of-the-rotation pitcher, Pavano’s 5.10 ERA gave many fans reason to be wary of how the 34-year-old would fare in 2010. His intangibles were much more respectable, though, and I didn’t see a reason to worry. Pavano’s xFIP last season was a very impressive 3.23, and his BABIP was very high and due for a regression, and I predicted a return to competence in 2010. So far this year, though, Pavano has impressed even his most supportive fans.
What is the underlying reason for this early-season success against two very tough lineups in Los Angeles and Boston? His pitch velocity is down about 1 mph across the board, but his record is 2-0 and he leads the league in WHIP.
According to the indispensable Fangraphs.com, Pavano’s fastball this year is worth 2.56 runs above average per 100 pitches. Last year that figure was -1.37, and the average for his career is -0.69. Pavano’s changeup is also listed as nearly a run above average better than his career average.
Whether or not Pavano can sustain this success has yet to be seen, but this early-season success is certainly an unexpected surprise for Twins fans. The entire rotation has been very solid this season, and if they all keep it up, this could be a very good team.
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