Joe Mauer (photo: Samara Pearlstein)

Having won two of three against the Rays, the Boston Red Sox (24-17, 2nd place, 1 game behind in the AL East) visit the Twin Cities for a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins (18-19, 4th place, 3 games back in the AL Central). The Red Sox are 4-6 in their last 10 games and won their last two games, while the Twins are 5-5 in their last 10 games and lost their last two in a row.

STARTING PITCHERS: Vance Worley, Scott Diamond and Pedro Hernandez

Vance Worley (versus Clay Buchholz), the nominal ace of the Twins staff, better start pitching like one. His 2013 pitching line is an ugly 7.15 ERA/4.79 FIP/4.53 xFIP but his BABIP is a tremendously unlucky .405 (.377 batting average against). He’s not walking many (2.31 per nine innings pitched) but not striking out many (4.85 per nine). Worley has also surrendered 6 homers in 39 innings pitched (12.8% per fly ball). These aren’t pretty numbers but if his BABIP normalizes he cam come back to somewhere near the average pitcher. He’s not the Messiah.

Scott Diamond (against Ryan Dempster) is what Vance Worley might be with a normal BABIP. Diamond also doesn’t strike out many batters (3.82 per nine) or walk many (1.53 per nine), and his homer per fly ball rate (12.2%) is comparable to Worley’s rate. However, Diamond’s BABIP is a pretty average .304 (.296 batting average against). Thus, Diamond’s pitching line is 4.08 ERA/4.61 FIP/4.44 xFIP. I think Diamond may have paid the blackmail.

Pedro Hernandez (versus John Lackey in the finale) is developing into a pitcher who will frustrate sabermetric types. His 2013 pitching line is an ugly 5.79 ERA/5.24 FIP/4.87 xFIP. His strike out to walk rate of 1.61 is not very good. As his BABIP is a somewhat normal .310, his numbers can’t be attributed to luck. His homer-to-fly ball ratio of 13.2% is higher than the 10.5% normal. Yet Hernandez has a record of 2-0. That record is as empty as a cheese shop.

EXPECTED LINEUP

1. Brian Dozier, 2B
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Josh Willingham, LF
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Chris Parmelee, 1B
6. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
7. Oswaldo Arcia, RF
8. Aaron Hicks, CF
9. Pedro Florimon, SS

WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT

Amongst the Twins weaponry in the last two weeks were such diverse elements as Joe Mauer (.462/.556/.673, .517 wOBA, 234 wRC+, 1.3 WAR in two weeks, VERY nice), Oswaldo Arcia (.349/.364/.558, .394 wOBA, 150 wRC+) and Justin Morneau (.385/.400/.481, .372 wOBA, 136 wRC+). However, Josh Willingham (.146/.340/.220, .271 wOBA, 67 wRC+), Chris Parmelee (.129/.250/.258, .238 wOBA, 45 wRC+) and Brian Dozier (.200/.220/.300, .227 wOBA, 37 wRC+) did not expect the Spanish Inquisition.

In the Twins bullpen, Ryan Pressly (1.29 ERA/2.74 FIP/4.39 xFIP, .273 BABIP), closer Glen Perkins (2.25 ERA/3.52 FIP/2.08 xFIP, .286 BABIP) and Jared Burton (2.70 ERA/2.72 FIP/4.89 xFIP, .364 BABIP) implemented the two three main weapons of fear, surprise and ruthless efficiency. But Casey Fien (5.14 ERA/5.88 FIP/3.40 xFIP, .286 BABIP) and Josh Roenicke (7.04 ERA/5.89 FIP/4.76 xFIP, .300 BABIP) probably should come in again.

AND NOW FOR A MUSICAL INTERLUDE

INJURIES

RHP Cole DeVries (strained right forearm, placed on the 15-day DL on April 7, retroactive to March 30), RF Darin Mastroianni (stress reaction in left ankle, placed on the 15-day DL on April 17, retroactive to April 16) and RHP Tim Wood (right rotator cuff strain, placed on the 15-day disabled list on March 29, retroactive to March 24) have nothing but flesh wounds.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE RED SOX?

In the last two weeks, Dustin Pedroia (.392/.456/.529, .430 wOBA, 169 wRC+), Stephen Drew (.302/.375/.512, .384 wOBA, 138 wRC+) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.281/.343/.531, .374 wOBA, 131 wRC+) hit as if they were playing soccer against a bunch of Long John Silver impersonators, while Mike Napoli (.191/.269/.319, .256 wOBA, 51 wRC+), David Ortiz (.191/.240/.362, .254 wOBA, 50 wRC+) and Jacoby Ellsbury (.182/.274/.236, .239 wOBA, 39 wRC+) were slapped in the face with fish.

In the Red Sox bullpen, nobody earned the Blutarsky ERA Award, but Craig Breslow (1.80 ERA/2.42 FIP/3.29 xFIP, .316 BABIP) pitched very well indeed. Alex Wilson (1.69 ERA/3.59 FIP/5.21 xFIP, .235 BABIP) and Clayton Mortensen (3.24 ERA/5.90 FIP/5.73 xFIP, .200 BABIP) continued to defy their peripherals, while Andrew Miller (5.40 ERA/2.62 FIP/0.60 xFIP, .500 BABIP) and Jose De La Torre (9.00 ERA/2.52 FIP/3.97 xFIP, .400 BABIP) were as lucky as a milkman,

SUMMARY

The Twins should always look on the bright side of life.

Categories: Aaron Hicks Alex Wilson Andrew Miller Boston Red Sox Brian Dozier Casey Fien Chris Parmelee Clay Buchholz Clayton Mortensen Cole DeVries Craig Breslow Darin Mastroianni David Ortiz Glen Perkins Jacoby Ellsbury Jared Burton Jarrod Saltalamacchia Joe Mauer John Lackey Jose De La Torre Josh Roenicke Josh Willingham Justin Morneau Mike Napoli Minnesota Twins Oswaldo Arcia Pedro Florimon Pedro Hernandez Ryan Dempster Ryan Pressly Scott Diamond Stephen Drew Tampa Bay Rays Tim Wood Trevor Plouffe Vance Worley

Scott Candage is a long-time Red Sox fan. He recently came in third in the 127th annual Upperclass Twit of the Year competition. His best friend is a tree and he is a stockbroker in his spare time.

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