Here are some of the story lines from the pitching department this season:
1. Two starters have made tremendous come-backs from the brink of their careers ending.
2. One relief pitcher has made a huge impact on the starting rotation for the second year in a row.
3. The bullpen has three closers with 20+ saves (None of which made my top 5 pitchers for the season)
4. These three closers might not even be the best arms out of the bullpen (2 relief pitchers made my list but neither of them has been a designated closer on the team this season)
5. The Joe Nathan injury has impacted the team from Spring Training to the trade deadline and beyond.
Don't forget to check out SethSpeaks.net to see the full results from the Twins' Bloggers/Writers poll.
(Click on the links in each player's write-up to see other stories that I have written this year about each player.)
The Minnesota Twins 2010 Pitcher of the Year (Countdown from #5-#1)
5. Matt Guerrier: Once again Guerrier has been Ron Gardenhire's go to man out of the bullpen. It seems that whenever the Twins needed something done the Twins would turn to Guerrier. He has been close to the top of the league in appearances over the last 3 seasons and he is a lock to finish near the top again in 2010. He was one of the options for the Twins' closer role during after Nathan's injury but the team went in a different direction. He has been one of the most, if not the most, consistent arms out of the bullpen this season.
Guerrier's Signature Games
June 4: Twins 5 @ Athletics 4: 2 IP, 0 ER, 1 K
Guerrier won his first game of the season pitching the 9th and 10th innings.
June 19: Twins 13 @ Phillies 10: 2 IP, 0 ER, 4 K
In a wild game Guerrier seemed to be one of the only Twins' pitcher that could hold the Phillies offense in check. Maybe a possible World Series preview...
4. Jesse Crain: I will be the first person to admit that I have never been the biggest Jesse Crain fan. His start to this season only added fuel to that fire. In the first month of the season Crain had 5 appearances that he allowed 2+ runs. He wasn't exactly the shut down pitcher the Twins wanted out of the bullpen. That is what made his turn around so amazing. He has been the best arm in the pen down the stretch. His stuff has been nasty at times and that is what sets him apart from the other options in relief.
Crain's Signature Games
July 16: White Sox 4 @ Twins 7: 0.2 IP, 0 ER, 1 K, 1 Save
His only save of the season but it came at a time that the Twins needed it in a statement series against the White Sox.
September 14: Twins 9 @ White Sox 3: 1 IP, 2 K, 1 Hold
The big strike outs of Manny Ramirez and Paul Konerko might have saved the AL Central for the Twins. This was the most important inning for the Twins this season.
3. Brian Duensing: There might not be a more important pitcher to the Twins' last two division championships than Brian Duensing. He has filled his role with the team no matter what it is. He has been a relief pitcher, a long-relief pitcher, and a starter. With the insertion of Duensing into the Twins' rotation the team was able to take off in the Central Division. Without him on this team the Central race might have had a different ending.
Duensing's Signature Games
August 14: Athletics 0 @ Twins 2: 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 4 K
The complete game gem from the young pitcher. He got a pie in the face but it had to be worth every second of it.
September 8: Royals 3 @ Twins 4: 8 IP, 1 ER, 7 K
The most strikeouts that Duensing has accumulated this season. A great 8 inning outing in September. You can't ask for much more.
2. Fransisco Liriano: Liriano was the talk of Twins fans during this past off-season. The scouts at Winter League said that there was something different about Liriano and he hasn't disappointed. I mistakenly thought that he should be placed in the closer role for the Twins during Spring Training. Liriano showed me I was wrong. He has regained some, if not all, of his All-Star form from 2006. He will finish close to the top in the American League in Ks and ERA. He is becoming the ace of the staff and he will get the start in Game 1 of the 2010 ALDS.
Liriano's Signature Games
April 27: Twins 2 @ Tigers 0: 8 IP, 0 ER, 10 K
Liriano and Justin Verlander squared off in this early season match-up. The Twins were able to squeak out 2 unearned runs and win the game for Liriano.
June 11: Braves 1 @ Twins 2: 8 IP, 1 ER, 11 K
Liriano's 10th win of the season was a pitcher's duel with Tim Hudson. Liriano struck out 11 and the Twins prevailed.
1. Carl Pavano: He is 5th in innings pitched in the American League. He is 9th in WHIP. He is 5th in wins. He is the veteran workhorse that Ron Gardenhire loves to have in his rotation. Pavano went through a stretch of games this season where it felt that every game he was going to be out there for 9 innings. Pavano gave the bullpen a rest in almost everyone of his starts. There could have been a case made for Pavano to be the team's MVP and that is why he is #1 on my list.
Pavano's Signature Games
June 20, June 26, July 17, July 22: 36 IP, 3 ER, 16 K
All complete games, all wins, nothing else needs to be said.
Those are my picks but there can still be much debate
Leave a comment. What do you agree with or disagree with?
Stay tuned tomorrow of the week for my picks for Twin's Rookie of the Year (SPOILER ALERT: There might be a surprise pick).