After being swept by the Rangers, the Boston Red Sox (20-11, 1.5 games ahead in the AL East) return home to Fenway Park for a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins (13-14, 4th place, 4.5 games back in the AL Central). The Red Sox are 6-4 in their last 10 games and lost their last three games, while the Twins are 4-6 in their last 10 games and won their last game. The Red Sox are tied for the best record in baseball with the Rangers and the Cardinals.
Vance Worley (against Clay Buchholz in the opener), who arrived in the Twin Cities via an off-season trade with the Phillies, has had a bad start to the 2013 season but there is optimism for Worley. His pitching line is 7.22 ERA/4.59 FIP/4.33 xFIP but Worley also has a sky-high BABIP of .396 (.362 batting average against). If Worley’s 2013 BABIP were nearer to his career BABIP of .318 and his batting average against were closer to his career number of .267, his 2013 stats would be closer to his career pitching line of 3.85 ERA/3.66 FIP/3.88 xFIP. I bet the Twins would like that.
Scott Diamond (taking on Ryan Dempster) is a rarity: a successful starter who only throws three pitches – a four-seam fastball, a curveball and a changeup. Diamond doesn’t strike out many batters (5.16 per nine in 2013, 4.56 in his career), doesn’t walk many (1.19 per nine in 2013, 1.96 in his career), and doesn’t surrender many homers (9.1% HR/FB in 2013, 10.1% for his career). Diamond’s 2013 BABIP is an unlucky .356 but he still has a pitching line of 3.97 ERA/3.54 FIP/3.80 xFIP. I hate the term “pitching to contact” but it just might apply to Scott Diamond.
Pedro Hernandez (versus Felix Doubront) is notable for the trades in which he has been included (Carlos Quentin to the Padres and Francisco Liriano to the White Sox). This start will be his 5th start and 7th major league appearance so looking at his statistics might be an injustice, but they’re not too good. In 2013 Hernandez has a 3.92 ERA/5.19 FIP/5.26 xFIP pitching line. He’s struck out only 3.92 batters per nine innings and walked 3.48 batters per nine. But he has stranded 81.4% of baserunners. That’s nice.
Kevin Correia (up against John Lackey in the finale) is pitching very well in 2013. His pitching line is a fairly impressive 2.83 ERA/3.93 FIP/4.42 xFIP. He’s not striking out many batters (4.14 per nine) but he’s not walking many (1.52 per nine) or surrendering the long ball (8.0% HR/FB) . Correia will throw six different pitches (four- and two-seam fastballs, cutter, slider, curveball, changeup), which will keep batters off balance. Correia’s 2013 BABIP of .269 is lower than his career BABIP of .293, so he’s had a touch of luck. So far, Correia has been a nice free-agent signing for the Twins. But as Correia’s career pitching line is a slightly-below average 4.48 ERA/4.50 FIP/4.44 xFIP, he might turn back into a pumpkin.
WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT
In the last two weeks, the hot hitters for the Twins were Trevor Plouffe (.310/.394/.552, .409 wOBA, 161 wRC), Josh Willingham (.206/.372/.529, .390 wOBA, 147 wRC, 3 homers and 8 walks) and Oswaldo Arcia (.286/.318/.476, .344 wOBA, 116 wRC), with honorable mention going to Wilkin Ramirez (.444/.500/.556, .461 wOBA, 196 wRC) and Jamey Carroll (.400/.471/.467, .416 wOBA, 165 wRC), who hit well in limited action. On the flip side, the cold Twins hitters were Justin Morneau (.250/.277/.364, .278 wOBA, 71 wRC), Chris Parmelee (.195/.244/.366, .265 wOBA, 63 wRC, but 2 homers), Ryan Doumit (.208/.240/.292, .235 wOBA, 42 wRC), Joe Mauer (.146/.255/.171, .199 wOBA, 18 wRC, really, Joe?) and Pedro Florimon (.185/.185/.185, .164 wOBA, -6 xFIP).
In the bullpen during the last two weeks, Brian Duensing (0.00 ERA/1.40 FIP/2.73 xFIP, .111 BABIP) and Casey Fien (2.25 ERA/1.02 FIP/3.18 xFIP, .333 BABIP) pitched well, while Josh Roenicke (0.00 ERA/2.64 FIP/4.53 xFIP, .200 BABIP) flattered to deceive. On the weird side, check out the numbers on Glen Perkins (6.75 ERA/3.77 FIP/1.60 xFIP, 18.00 K/9, 4.50 BB/9, 2.25 HR/9, .571 BABIP, 71.4 % LOB, 25.0 % GB, 33.3 % HR/FB).
AND NOW FOR A MUSICAL INTERLUDE
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)
AND WHAT ABOUT THE RED SOX?
OK, the Sox got swept by a very strong Rangers team. I wouldn’t read too much into it – it was bound to happen sooner or later, and at least they didn’t get swept by the other team in Texas. In the last two weeks, the hot hitters for the Red Sox were (surprise) David Ortiz (.405/.447/.857, .533 wOBA, 239 wRC, 0.8 WAR), Mike Carp (.350/.435/.750, .495 wOBA, 214 wRC), Mike Napoli (.271/.364/.604, .412 wOBA, 157 wRC) and Jonny Gomes (.286/.423/.476, .397 wOBA, 147 wRC), with special shout outs going to David Ross (.375/.524/1.000, .605 wOBA, 288 wRC, 3 homers, 0.6 WAR in 5 games) and Pedro Ciriaco (.400/.400/.600, .426 wOBA, 166 wRC), who hit well in spot starts. Also worth noting is that Stephen Drew (.250/.349/.444, .343 wOBA, 110 wRC) started to heat up. On the other hand, the cold Red Sox hitters were Jacoby Ellsbury (.259/.344/.296, .295 wOBA, 77 wRC), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.241/.313/.345, .294 wOBA, 77 wRC), Will Middlebrooks (.222/.271/.400, .293 wOBA, 77 wRC) and Shane Victorino (.167/.250/.222, .221 wOBA, 27 wRC), although Shane’s numbers can be partially excused by injury.
In the Sox bullpen in the last two weeks, Andrew Miller (0.00 ERA/0.77 FIP/1.49 xFIP, .333 BABIP, I know, go figure) and Andrew Bailey (0.00 ERA/0.68 FIP/2.60 xFIP, .200 BABIP) earned the Blutarsky ERA Award. However, walks were the bugaboo for Junichi Tazawa (5.06 ERA/4.14 FIP/3.86 xFIP, .333 BABIP) and Clayton Mortensen (7.94 ERA/4.07 FIP/5.09 xFIP, .353 BABIP).
The Twins aren’t good. The Twins aren’t bad. The Twins are nice. Minnesota nice.