The Yankees play the Twins for the final time this season in a makeup of the Wednesday, April 6 washout, which was supposed to feature Freddy Garcia against Carl Pavano. While Freddy won’t be pitching this afternoon (1:05pm start time),
Glass Carl will. Carl, like pretty much everyone else on the Twins’ roster, has had a disappointing 2011.
The sad saga of the Twins’ moribund season will come to a close soon, although there appear to be a number of reasons for Twins fans to be optimistic about 2012. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s truly been a wretched season for Minnesota on both sides of the ball, and they can’t exactly be thrilled about having to come back to New York for one lousy day, considering they’ve gone 8-27 in the Bronx since the beginning of the 2001 season. If you include the playoffs, that record falls to 10-32 at Yankee Stadium since 2001. Overall, the Twins are 23-51 against the Yankees since 2001, and 25-63 including the postseason. Ouch.
To Pavano’s credit, he’d managed to frustratingly stifle the Yankee bats in his first several go-rounds as an opposing starter after his Yankee contract expired, hurling 20.1 innings of 6-run ball over three starts including Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS. However, the Yankees finally seemed to figure him out at the best possible time, getting him for four runs over six innings in Game 2 of last year’s ALDS. They haven’t seen him since, so it’s anyone’s guess as to whether Carl’s brand of absolute junk will once again mystify the Bombers. Pavano throws an 89mph fastball and 88mph sinker, both of which have gotten obliterated this year per Fangraphs’ pitch type linear weights (-19.0 runs above average). His bread-and-butter is that 81mph changeup, which he deploys against both righties and lefties. Like any good kitchen-sink junkballer, he also throws a low-80s slider and splitter. In fact, in looking at his numbers it’s really not even all that different from facing Freddy Garcia, except Freddy throws even slower and strikes a few more guys out, while Pavano’s claim to fame has always been walking no one. Still, it’s amazing that Pavano’s even been as effective as he has given the laughable 3.96 K/9. The only reason he’s able to get away with that is a 50% GB% rate.
I can’t win today. Apparently Scott Diamond is going for the Twins and will be making his 6th career start. In true Twins fashion, Diamond doesn’t strike anyone out (sub-6.00 K/0) and throws junk (89mph fastball), although unlike seemingly everyone else Minnesota’s brought up through their system over the years Diamond’s actually a lefty junkballer — my favorite kind. Diamond’s actually pitched reasonably well thus far in his young career, but he’s yet to face anyone outside the AL Central — hopefully the Yankees will show Diamond what AL-East-style baseball is all about this afternoon.
Diamond will face
Phil Hughes, fresh off an outing against the lowly Mariners that featured good results but represented a continuation of his season-long poor process. Hughes put together perhaps his best outing of the season against the Twins last month, although he only struck out two men and was the beneficiary of an extraordinary dose of good BABIP luck. At this point I think we’re all waiting for Phil to just play out the season before heading to the bullpen for the postseason, and hoping for a fresh start and a better approach for Phil Hughes-the-starting pitcher come 2012. A.J. Burnett, in place of the scratched Phil Hughes. Hughes, who was dealing with back spasms, is now expected to go tomorrow or Wednesday against the Rays. Hopefully A.J. can actually build on what was one of his better starts of the season last week against Seattle.
The Twins basically have had two productive players on offense of late — Joe Mauer and Luke Hughes, and Mauer was just shut down for the season with pneumonia . Even Burnett should be able to handle the lineup Minnesota’s trotting out these days as they play out the string, so unless
Glass Carl’s Diamond’s newness and evil slow-pitch voodoo winds up overwhelming the Yankees, there’s little reason to think the Yankees won’t blow Minnesota out of the water in this one.