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After this weekend’s disaster, in which the Twins’ hand-selected post-break first three starting pitchers — Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes and Kevin Correia — combined to throw 17.1 innings and allow 15 earned runs against the Rays, Twins starting pitchers have a combined 4.96 ERA this season.
That’s nearly a run worse than the AL average for starters (4.06) and more than a run worse than the MLB average (3.94). That 4.96 ERA for starters ranks 28th in all of baseball, with only the injury-ravaged Rangers and the thin-air-challenged Rockies faring worse.
Interestingly enough, though, Twins starters don’t fare nearly as poorly when it comes to giving up hard-hit balls. The Twins are 20th in MLB — not good, but much better than their ERA ranking — when it comes to the percentage of balls hit hard off their starting pitchers, per ESPN stats guru Mark Simon.
What does this suggest? Well, the margins are pretty small, so it might not mean anything. Twins starters give up hard-hit balls 16 percent of the time; the worst team, Texas, sits at 18.3 percent. So basically Texas pitchers give up two more hard hit balls every 100 at-bats, which isn’t a huge amount.
It could mean the Twins’ defense is suspect, since it could stand to reason that the hard-hit ball ranking should be roughly equal to the ERA ranking. That said, any benefit from a lower hard-hit ball rate is probably wiped out by the fact that Twins starters have just 349 strikeouts, fewest of any staff in the majors. With more balls put in play, Twins starters are bound to be “unlucky” — either with soft-hit balls landing for hits or just the sheer volume of hard-hit balls overwhelming them regardless of the overall percentage.
A team like Atlanta, for instance, has a similar hard-hit ball rate among its starters (15.7 percent), but the Braves have a very good starters’ ERA (3.38, sixth in the majors). Their starters have 525 strikeouts, No. 5 in the majors. The percentage is close to the same as the Twins, but with 176 more strikeouts from starters — almost all of which are guaranteed outs, except for the rare wild pitch/passed ball on a third strike — the volume of hard-hit balls and flares is much lower and logically many more overall outs are recorded.
Maybe Twins starters have been a little unlucky. It is possible to post an average-to-good ERA among starters without having a high strikeout rate (Toronto, KC and Pittsburgh all have starters’ ERAs more than a run better than Twins starters, even though all of them rank 22nd or worse in strikeouts).
More likely, though, their not-dreadful rank of 20th when it comes to hard-hit ball rate is wiped out, and then some, by the large number of balls put in play.
One of the curious parts of any proposed Kevin Love-to-Cleveland deal is slated to change this week because the Cavaliers are reportedly going to sign No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins to his rookie contract.
This can impact a Love/Wiggins deal in many ways. First off, per NBA rules, Wiggins cannot be traded for 30 days after signing his rookie contract. Second, once he is signed, he will have a defined NBA salary cap number that will impact any trade as well.
So is this good news or bad news when it comes to a potential trade between the Wolves and the Cavs?
Well, it depends on how you look at it. Even if Wiggins is signed, the teams could agree to a deal in principle behind-the-scenes and wait to make it official once the 30 days have passed. So Wiggins signing certainly doesn’t make a deal impossible. That said, it might have been more convenient had he signed immediately after the draft, since his 30 days would be pretty close to over by now.
The complication is probably more in the perception. Let’s say Wiggins signs on Friday; it’s going to be late August before he could officially be traded — and late August before the resolution of any movement with Love. The longer this plays out, the worse it is for both teams.
We also have to consider the possibility that Wiggins signing is an indication that Cleveland is not going to trade him. … And we also must wonder whether leaking information that they plan to sign him this week is an attempt to speed up trade talks.
Until he signs, or at least until we have definitive word that the Wolves and Cavs are serious about a deal, everything is status quo.
Grantland.com is run by Bill Simmons, meaning the site typically
1) loves to talk hoops
2) loves to trash the Timberwolves.
Simmons and co. have assembled some stream of consciousness takes on a possible Kevin Love-Andrew Wiggins trade, and they add up to about 3,000 words. Some of it is bitter nonsense, some of it is astute observation. We will leave you to dig through it, with this set-up from Simmons:
With my beloved Celtics stuck in Rebuilding Mode, I find myself rooting for LeBron’s Cavaliers to give Cleveland its first championship in 50 years. How they handle a hypothetical Kevin Love–Andrew Wiggins trade is crucial for that quest. What should they do? Here at Grantland, we couldn’t resist passing along our advice. I’m writing an expanded take, and then we’re turning it over to some of our other writers for their quickie takes.
America needed a new hero.
A bloated, nauseated hero.
They found her. Her name is Caity Weaver, and her quest was simple:
Last Monday TGI Friday’s unveiled a new promotion (available at many TGI Friday’s locations, but none on the island of Manhattan) whereby customers can gorge themselves on unlimited appetizers—without fear of punishment, embarrassment, or ostracization—for a one-time payment of $10. The promotion is called “Endless Appetizers.”
The day after “Endless Appetizers” was announced, I went to TGI Friday’s in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay. I wanted to challenge the hubris of a company co-opting the infinite for a marketing gimmick. I wanted to demand accountability from copywriters.
I wanted to call their bluff and eat appetizers until they kicked me out, to seek the limit of this supposedly limitless publicity stunt.
I soon learned the limit does not exist.
You can imagine what happens next, but you really can’t. Please do go ahead and read her 14-hour mozzarella stick account. Language warning, as if eating apps for 14 hours wouldn’t cause you to swear, too.
We chatted Thursday with Twins President Dave St. Peter for a Q&A that will run in Sunday’s print edition. But with the post-break schedule starting Friday at Target Field with a game against Tampa Bay — the first of a 10-game homestand — we thought one particular question was pertinent for the here and now.
Namely: Given the fact that they are still 10.5 games out of first place in the AL Central and 6.5 games back in the Wild Card standings, are the Twins (44-50) still considering themselves potential “buyers” at the trade deadline, are they already resigned to being “sellers,” or will the way this homestand plays out determine the answer to that question?
Keep in mind, the homestand will end July 27; the non-waiver trade deadline is July 31. We presented it to St. Peter with us having difficulty believing the Twins could still be buyers, regardless of how the homestand goes. Here is what St. Peter had to say:
“I think the 10-game homestand is going to go a long way toward determining what course of action we take. Obviously the best thing we can do to add to our team is to get Joe Mauer, Danny Santana and Ricky Nolasco back onto our roster. That’s number one. At the end of the day, I do believe our team is certainly capable of playing better baseball and producing more victories over the course of the second half.
“We’re disappointed with our record. We’ve probably played better than that, but it is what it is. You need to get to .500 before you can even think about contending for a post-season spot. So that’s mission number one, getting back to that .500 mark. … We believe (we’re better). Whether it plays out that way, I guess we’ll find out. But it has to start on this homestand.”
|Los Angeles - LP: P. Maholm||7||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley||12|
|San Francisco - WP: G. Kontos||9||FINAL|
|Philadelphia - LP: J. Manship||6|
|Texas - LP: N. Tepesch||1||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - WP: J. Francis||2|
|Boston - LP: J. Peavy||3||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: J. Happ||7|
|Miami - WP: J. Turner||6||FINAL|
|Atlanta - LP: M. Minor||5|
|San Diego - LP: E. Stults||0||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - WP: K. Hendricks||6|
|Cincinnati - LP: S. LeCure||3||FINAL|
|Milwaukee - WP: F. Rodriguez||4|
|Cleveland - WP: D. Salazar||8||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: Y. Pino||2|
|Kansas City - WP: B. Chen||7||FINAL|
|Chicago WSox - LP: S. Carroll||1|
|Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi||7||FINAL|
|St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright||2|
|Washington - WP: C. Stammen||7||FINAL|
|Colorado - LP: B. Brown||4|
|Detroit - LP: P. Coke||4||FINAL|
|Arizona - WP: E. De La Rosa||5|
|Houston - WP: D. Downs||3||FINAL|
|Oakland - LP: F. Abad||2|
|Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez||4||FINAL|
|LA Angels - LP: M. Morin||2|
|NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom||3||FINAL|
|Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez||1|
|Calgary||7/24/14 8:00 PM|
|Winnipeg||7/25/14 9:00 PM|
|Ottawa||7/26/14 6:00 PM|
|Toronto||7/26/14 9:00 PM|
|Winnipeg||7/31/14 6:00 PM|