|Could Cuddyer get his first All-Star appearance?|
The two players that provided light in the darkness that was the first two months of the season were Jason Kubel and Denard Span. Both of these players got off to great starts to help the Twins through their struggles. Kubel seemed like he would be a lock for the All-Star Game until an injury took him out of the line-up. After a collision at homeplate, Span has also found himself with continued time on the DL.
With both Span and Kubel on the DL, the Twins will have to find their All-Star pick from somewhere else on their roster. There are four main candidates that have emerged as the deadline approaches to set the American League roster. A lot of the decision could come down to what Ron Washington will be looking for to fill his roster. Will the AL All-Star Game Mananger need a pitcher or a utility player?
Pitching Candidates for the TwinsScott Baker (5-5), 3.39 ERA, 92 K, 1.210 WHIP, 2.2 WAR
Baker has struggled to get consistent starts in back to back outings during the early portion of the season. The month of June has been a little more consistent for Baker as he has been able to throw at least six innings in all of his starts. His best start of the year came against the Texas Rangers. In that outing, he pitched a complete game while only allowing one run and striking out seven. Of the possible All-Star options for the Twins, he has the highest WAR and that could bode well for Mr. Baker.
Nick Blackburn (6-5), 3.15 ERA, 51 K, 1.309 WHIP, 1.8 WAR
Like many Twins players, Blackburn struggled through the first month of the season. After winning his first start of the year, Blackburn got the loss in his next four appearances. The month of May saw Blackburn run off a very impressive string of starts. In his first five starts of May, Blackburn pitched a quality start in each of those outings and only allowed a total of seven earned runs. Recent starts have brought Blackburn's stats back down to earth but he is still a viable candidate.
Carl Pavano (5-6), 4.24 ERA, 45 K, 1.320 WHIP, 0.6 WAR
Pavano has been a representative in the All-Star Game before but that was seven seasons ago. This version of Pavano has come a long way since his last appearance in the Mid-Summer Classic. Pavano has been a work horse for the Twins again this season. He has two complete game and 10 games that he has pitched seven innings or more. His stats are a little below that of the other starters so Pavano will probably have a tough time being the Twins selection.
Utility Candidate for the TwinsMichael Cuddyer .292 BA, .823 OPS, 10 HR, 30 RBI, 1.7 WAR
Cuddyer had a very cold start to the season and he struggled to even get his first RBI of the year. His first month of the season saw him with only a .226 BA, .287 OBP, and 4 RBI. Every month has seen Cuddyer improve and the month of June has seen him be one of the best hitters in the American League. The current month of June has broken down to a .357 BA, 1.100 OPS, 5 HR, and 17 RBI. The biggest thing in favor of Cuddyer could be his ability to play defensive positions all over the field. Cuddy's defensive flexibility might be hard to ignore for Washington and the American League
Twins All-Star Rankings:
1. Michael Cuddyer
2. Scott Baker
3. Nick Blackburn
4. Carl Pavano