September 27, 2009

Showdown in Motown

Been down so long, getting up didn't cross my mind
I knew there was a better way of life and I was just trying to find
You don't know what you'll do until you're put under pressure
Across 110th Street is a helluva a tester

- Bobby Womack, "Across 110th Street"

Not much left to say at this point. The weekend went nicely for the Twins, as they won two out of three in Kansas City, losing only to the top pitcher in the league, and the Tigers lost two out of three in Chicago, winning only when the White Sox coughed up a 5-0 lead. With seven games remaining the Twins trail the Tigers by two games heading into a four-game series in Detroit, which basically means they need to win three of these four matchups to have more than slim playoff odds going into the final weekend:

Nick Blackburn 192 IP 4.2 SO/9 1.9 BB/9 45.4 GB% 4.85 xFIP
Rick Porcello 159 IP 4.5 SO/9 2.8 BB/9 54.6 GB% 4.56 xFIP

Brian Duensing 78 IP 5.7 SO/9 3.2 BB/9 45.3 GB% 4.97 xFIP
Justin Verlander 224 IP 10.3 SO/9 2.4 BB/9 35.6 GB% 3.40 xFIP

Carl Pavano 189 IP 6.5 SO/9 1.7 BB/9 44.5 GB% 4.16 xFIP
Eddie Bonine 29 IP 4.9 SO/9 3.1 BB/9 55.8 GB% 4.49 xFIP

Scott Baker 189 IP 7.5 SO/9 2.0 BB/9 33.9 GB% 4.34 xFIP
Nate Robertson 44 IP 6.8 SO/9 5.8 BB/9 41.8 GB% 5.40 xFIP

Based on the pitching matchups each team has an edge in two of the games. Detroit has an edge with Justin Verlander, who's one of the five best pitchers in the league, and Rick Porcello, who's one of the five best rookies in the league. Minnesota has an edge against Eddie Bonine, who's 28 years old and making his ninth career start after posting a 4.10 ERA in 62 starts between Double-A and Triple-A, and Nate Robertson, who's 9-13 with a 6.19 ERA since the beginning of last season.

There's certainly a lot more room for analysis, but at this point we're essentially talking about a series of four coin flips, with each one weighted somewhere in the range of 50-50, 55-45, or 60-40. A split is the most likely scenario and would leave the Twins needing to sweep the Royals while the Tigers lose at least two of three to the White Sox during the final weekend. However, a 3-1 series win for the Twins would put them in a relative driver's seat and a 4-0 sweep would all but lock up the division title.

As a wise man once said, "There's one word in America that says it all and that word is youneverknow."

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