Sunday, September 27, 2009

Twins' improved pitching behind surprise playoff run

The Minnesota Twins are making a surprise run at the playoffs, going 15-8 in September. They are 2 games behind Detroit, after being a season-high 7 games back on September 7th.

It is a surprise because their team ERA ranked near the bottom of the league in both July (28th in ML) and August (26th), although they were scoring plenty of runs in July (8th in ML) and August (6th), but only went 26-26. Their pitching has improved dramatically in September:

Twins team ERA by month
April: 5.26 (24th in ML)
May: 4.43 (17th)
June: 3.31 (5th)
July: 5.32 (28th)
August: 5.21 (26th)
September: 3.59 (9th)

One of the biggest reasons for the improvement is the emergence of rookie left-hander Brian Duensing, who is 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA in 5 September starts.

Prior to September, in his career, he only had 3 starts, 14 relief appearances and a 4.39 ERA. If you include his 2 starts late in August, he is 5-0 with a 1.88 ERA in his last 7 starts. Impressively, he has only allowed 1 HR and 11 BB over those 7 starts.

A lot is going to be put on him, as he is scheduled to face off against Justin Verlander in Detroit on Tuesday and then possibly, the final game of the season, at home vs. Kansas City.

Which other AL pitchers have 3 wins and an ERA lower than 2.00 in September? Felix Hernandez, Clay Buchholz, C.C. Sabathia and Roy Halladay.

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