Monday, September 26, 2011

Searching for a 10-game winner

It seems like the Twins continue to hit new levels of futility as the season winds to a close. At the end of the season, there are going to be plenty of negatives to look at from all parts of the year. The injuries piled up, the bullpen was unproven, the middle infield was a disaster, etc. There are plenty of headlines to describe the ineptitude of the 2011 Minnesota Twins.

One specific thing stood out to me from this weekend's series in Cleveland. During the doubleheader on Saturday, the Twins sent multiple pitchers to the mound in search of their tenth win of the season. This is something interesting to look at because there is currently no pitcher on the Twins roster that has accumulated double digits in wins for the season. 
Twins Wins Leaders (2011)
Francisco Liriano 9
Brian Duensing 9
Carl Pavano 8
Scott Baker 8
Nick Blackburn 7

The scheduled starters for the Twins the rest of the season are Kevin Slowey, Anthony Swarzak, and Carl Pavano. There is always the possibility that the Twins could use Liriano or Duensing out of the bullpen to push their win total to 10 on the season. If that situation does not present itself, this means the Twins could be left without a pitcher reaching the double digit wins mark for the first time in quite awhile. 

The Twins had a lot of bad teams in the mid to late 1990's and the only Twins team to lose 100 games was all the way back in 1982. So when was the last time the Twins failed to have a pitcher win ten decisions in a season?

The year was 1981 and 38 percent of that season was lost to a work stoppage. The Twins struggled to reach 41 wins that season and ended the season with 68 losses. The second half of the season was much better than the first as the team finished only five games under .500 in that half.
Twins Wins Leaders (1981)
Pete Redfern 9
Fernando Arroyo 7
Albert Williams 6
Jerry Koosman 3

This raises the question about whether a shorten season should even count for the purposes of finding a double digit wins leader on the Twins. The Twins franchise moved to Minnesota from Washington for the start of the 1961 season. Since that time, there has yet to be a team in a full season to finish without a pitcher accumulating ten wins for the year.

Pitching has come a long way since the Twins franchise moved to the Twin Cities. Starters of the past could be asked to throw over 250 innings in a season. The development of the bullpen and closers role over the last few decades has taken some emphasis off of starters throwing as deep into games. The only Twins pitcher that will throw 200+ innings in 2011 is Carl Pavano who currently sits at 213.0 innings pitched.

Injuries have also plagued the Twins starting staff and this has meant the use of nine pitchers as starters. Anthony Swarzak, Kevin Slowey, Scott Diamond, and Liam Henriks have each been asked to make multiple starts because of injuries to the Opening Day starting rotation of Pavano, Liriano, Baker, Duensing, and Blackburn. In comparison the 2010 Twins also used nine pitchers to start games but there were only six pitchers who made multiple starts on the year.

The Twins have an interesting situation with their starting pitching for next season. All of the pitchers that have been used as starters are under team control for next season. If the team wants to revamp their rotation, there would need to be some moves elsewhere to bring in another starting pitching option. There are plenty of other things on the team's offseason wish list so it will be interesting to see how starting pitching plays into the team's plan. 

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