Before I share my thoughts on the season thus far I want to apologize for the lack of updates. It has been a rough start to the season and there has been very little to write about, but I am aiming to write more in hopes that it brings good luck to the Twins.
Despite the Twins being just two games back in the A.L. Central, they sure haven’t been playing that well. The Twins are currently 7-9, while the Indians are 5-10. This is very interesting because both the Twins and Indians were expected to be atop of the Central. But then again we are only less than a month into the season, so we have a long ways to go.
The Twins starting rotation as struggled to return to their 2008 form, when they surprised the entire MLB as being one of the youngest, but most productive rotations. With the same exact rotation that the Twins had last year, they are getting opposite results. The Twins starting pitching has a combined record of 4-8 with a dreadful 5.59 ERA. They have given up the most earned runs of any starting rotation so far, by allowing 59 earned runs.
Scott Baker, who started the season on the disabled list, was expected to come into the 2009 season as the staff’s #1 pitcher. Through his first two starts, he has managed to give up 12 hits and strikeout just five batters. Well you may be wondering, “What’s so bad about the 12 hits?” Of those 12 hits, seven of them have been homeruns. Baker, as well as most of the Twins starting pitching, has had trouble with his command issues. He has been leaving way too many pitches up in the strike zone. Now, I’m not saying we should get all worried about the pitching yet, but if this is a sign to come, then it could be a very long season.
On the other hand, Glen Perkins has been brilliant. Through three starts he has a record of 1-1 with an ERA of 1.50 and 12 strikeouts. He has yet to allow more than two runs in any start this season. He has really been the only starting pitcher who has been consistent thus far. I think Perkins will be pleasant surprise this year and could prove himself even more as he looks to improve upon his 12-4 record last year.
On the other side of the plate, the Twins hitting has been up and down to start the season. They are hitting just .255 as a team. This is no surprise though, as the Twins tend to start off slow and eventually end up with one of the best team batting averages each year. The only thing I feel the Twins, as a team, need to work on is their ability to get runners home when they have the bases loaded and zero or one out. They always tend to leave the runners stranded.
If I had to pick one hitter that has been the best for the Twins thus far, it would have to be Jason Kubel. Through 14 games as DH, Kubel is batting .327 with two homeruns and a team-leading 12 RBI. His biggest accomplishment as a Major Leaguer came on April 17th against the LA Angels. Down 9-7 with two out in the 8th inning, Kubel stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. Kubel had already gotten a single, double and triple, so all he needed was a homerun to complete the cycle. After taking a first pitch strike, Kubel launched a deep, eventual game-winning grand slam to the upper deck in right field. To complete the cycle by hitting a grand slam was the highlight of not only his career, but for the Twins this season. In the series against the Angels, Kubel went 8-for-14 (.571) with one homerun and 7 RBI. Look for him to have a solid season as the Twins primary Designated Hitter.
On a happier note, the Twins are expected to get Joe Mauer back on May 1st. This is of course assuming everything in his rehab assignment goes without any setbacks. He probably won’t be as effective when he first returns, but once he gets going, I expect this lineup to become more dangerous and really help Morneau drive in more runs.