Thursday, October 01, 2009

On Magic Numbers, Matchups and Channeling Trent Tucker

We just need to take care of our business, we can only control what we can control, we can't worry about the Tigers, it doesn't do any good to watch the scoreboard, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Did you know that teams that are in second place can have a Magic Number? It's true. The Twins' Magic Number is six. Unfortunately, they only have three games left, so we ARE going to worry about the Tigers and watch the scoreboard. And while we're at it, let's look at the pitching matchups for both series, because the sad truth is that if five of these six games don't go the Twins way, we're done.

Jeff Manship(MIN) vs. Lenny Dinardo(KC)

Time for Jeff to show a little Manship. He regressed in each of his four starts, but had decent success in his last bullpen appearance. He's got to quit freaking walking batters. Take the hill and throw the ball over the plate, young fella. (Hmm. I'm channeling my inner Trent Tucker. How adorable.)

Fortunately, almost everything I just said about Manship, I could say about Dinardo. Except for the "young fella" part. He's 30.

Edwin Jackson
(DET) vs. Jake Peavy(CWS)

I love Ozzie Guillen. Peavy, who is an NL Cy Young award winner, last pitched last on Friday, so he could've pitched Wednesday. But Ozzie held him off to pitch against the Tigers instead. Jackson has struggled for most of September, and gave up five runs to the White Sox last Sunday in a 8-4 loss.

Nick Blackburn(MIN) vs. Zach Greinke(KC)

I suppose it's only fair that the Twins get to face a probable Cy Young award winner the next day. Grienke's is a heart-warming story about a player who battled back from depression to fulfill the sizable expectations that were heaped on his shoulders. And I can't think of a better ending than the Twins ripping his still-beating heart out of his chest and ruining any Cy Young consideration the last six months has generated. Call me a hopeless romantic.

Freddy Garcia(CWS) vs. Alfredo Figaro(DET)

When Monday's game was rained out, there was a lot of debate about whether it would have a negative effect on the Twins because Joe Mauer wouldn't catch both games of the doubleheader. (He did, but he ran like he did the next two days.) But the far bigger impact to both teams was that it meant the pitchers for that game would need to pitch their next game on just three days rest. That's what Blackburn is doing for the Twins.

The Tigers went in different direction. This spot should be taken by Rick Porcello, who is just 20 years old and was stretched to 165 innings already this year. Rather than make his young arm pitch on short rest the Tigers are turning to Figaro, a 25-year-old right-hander who doesn't look like a bad prospect, but who has appeared in only four major league games and is working his way back from wrist surgery.

The White Sox are countering with Garcia, who has been pretty good for most of September, but got the snot pounded out of him last Saturday by....the Tigers. Sigh.

Brian Duensing
(MIN) vs. Luke Hochevar(KC)

Duensing has been lights out since joining the rotation, but had his worst start of the year on Tuesday night. Keep your fingers crossed. Hochevar threw a complete game shutout on September 18th - and still had an 8.16 ERA in September. Let's hope he's not "on" because then he's almost certainly "off".

Justin Verlander(DET) vs. John Danks(CWS)

The Tigers have announced that if this game means anything, Verlander will be the guy on the mound. You might have heard about him. But don't give up hope, because several of the White Sox have had a lot of success against him over their careers, including Jermaine Dye, Carlos Quentin and AJ Pierzynski. And one gets the sense that the White Sox kind of thrive on spite.

Which might also explain Danks starting. He's been good lately, almost the exact opposite of Hochevar. Danks gave up seven runs against the Twins last week - but still had a 3.21 ERA over the month of September. That's tight.

I'm hopeful that on Monday you'll return to see another pitching matchup - something like Rick Porcello against Carl Pavano for the AL Central Championship. But if you don't, you're going to want to be here as we prepare for the offseason with the release of the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook. I'm really excited about this book which lets you make the same decisions as the Twins general manager and build the team you think they should have. We're putting the final touches on it this weekend, and it'll be released only if the Twins are actually eliminated. Otherwise, we'll hold off. We don't want to be done with this season yet.

I almost forgot. For those of you who go to the Hot Stove Annual Winter Banquet that is thrown by Julian Loscalzo and Michael "Sammy" Samuelson, you'll be happy to hear there is also a celebratory event this Sunday. I can't make it to the last game, but this sounds beautiful. From Sammy....

To all: We will, for the final time at at the HHH Metrodome, be hosting our annual end of the season potluck "brunch" this next Sunday, 10/4 starting around 10:30 am before the Twins vs Royals game. We will be gathering at the low wall on the Left side of the Dome's main entrance at 6th and Chicago (just behind the kettle corn stand). Due to planned pre-game festivities, we are asking that folks show up a bit earlier then usual so we do not miss too much of the going ons.

You can expect to munch on everything from shrimp, White Castle sliders, cheesecake and my famous tater tot hotdish! If you can make it please bring a dish to share for between 12-15 of your fellow seat mates. We hope you come by even if you do not have a ticket.

Win! Twins! - Sammy and Kiki

Also, apparently there will be a film crew there from to do a feature on Sammy. If I get the link, I'll be sure to pass it along.


pauper_ill said...

Nice analysis, TG. While I won't be living and dying with the club this weekend, I'll be happy if they manage to pull off the miracle return (and I'll be lucky enough to attend the season-ending game on Sunday, so there's that).

One minor nitpick -- while it made for a good intro in your essay, technically speaking *every* team that isn't mathematically eliminated has a magic number; it's just that only a team in sole possession of the lead has a magic number equal to or less than the number of games remaining. If two teams are tied, their magic number is always the number of games remaining + 1.

Which means that on Opening Day 2010, every team will have a magic number of 163.

John said...


That's absolutely true. It's what I was trying to say, but bungled.

Sheldon said...

one addendum - the playoff - if it (somehow, magically) occurs will be tuesday - there's this silly Monday night football game taking up space at the Metrodome.

constant gina said...

definitely looking at the Tigers for the W