Carl Pavano to the Twins

Well, this was unanticipated. I’m not sure what is more surprising – that Carl Pavano has actually thrown nearly 2000 pitches this season, or that Carl Pavano is an actual upgrade to the Twins’ rotation. The Twins’ rotation looked to be their saving grace headed into the season, but injuries and disappointing performances (I’m looking at you, Francisco Liriano) have kept them behind the Tigers and White Sox in the AL Central.

Minnesota fans probably will see what’s on the surface — a legendary bust of a free agent signing from years gone by who just so happens to be sporting a 5.37 ERA — and be unhappy, but that’s not quite fair to Pavano. While he has been known to have bouts of awfulness, his periphs are less than awful: 4.26 FIP, 4.15 xFIP, tRA* of 4.72 (when scaled to ERA it would be around 4.3). He’s been striking out batters at about an average rate (6.3) while demonstrating good control (1.65 BB/9). ZiPS projects a 4.25 FIP from here on out, although it also projects just 5 more starts left. After all, it is Pavano ZiPS is projecting, but I think he’ll surpass that.

Stuff-wise, Pavano has been throwing a good slider along with a decent change. He has returned to the 90-91 MPH mark with his fastball, a velocity he’s been able to consistently maintain throughout the season, so that’s encouraging. But less encouraging is that it’s the fastball that he’s gotten pasted with; the pitch has been “worth” 17 runs below average. Looking at his pitch f/x numbers, I can’t see quite why this is, those of who have seen him pitch feel free to fill me in. All I can see is the fastball that has a little over an inch more of tail than average, but a little less than half an inch of “rise” than average. Is he catching too much of the plate, or is this just a crummy sinker that the pitch f/x algorithms have mislabeled as a 4-seam fastball?

Pavano’s not going to put the Twins over the top in the Central; at best he lightens the blow of losing Kevin Slowey for the rest of the season with a wrist injury, and that at a reasonable cost. Then again, we are talking about the Twins, who always seem to have hope as long as there is a chance, however slim that chance may be.

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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.

7 Responses to “Carl Pavano to the Twins”

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  1. Mike I says:

    I’m completely shocked by the Twins’ FO competency in this move. Pavano immediately becomes the Twins 2nd best starter for the rest of the year, at a time when the team really needed a starting pitching upgrade. And they got him for (presumably) almost nothing. Did Bill Smith go out and hire a sabermetrician while we weren’t looking?

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  2. Karl says:

    Had no idea his fastball was getting destroyed like that (“worth” 17 runs below average). I’ve been looking over Pavano’s stats and this doesn’t look like it will end well: In 2006-2008, Pavano falls apart in September (6.94 ERA but granted that’s just 23 innings). He pitched at the Metrodome once and fared OK but the sample size is too small to really know. I’m worried that Pavano won’t get the run support to be very effective in the brutal AL Central.

    I’m really just glad Pavano is still in the league. He never seemed the same after the Yankee years. Maybe it was thin-skin but he didn’t seem comfortable as he did at Florida. Fortunately, the smaller Minnesota market will keep the glare off him.

    Karl Moats, Writer
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    • Mike I says:

      “I’m worried that Pavano won’t get the run support to be very effective in the brutal AL Central.”

      There are so many things wrong with this statement. And I have nothing to say about your “analysis” of Pavano’s September performances. Just take a look at Pavano’s splits page on BaseballReference. Suffice it to say I won’t be visiting your site, Karl.

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    • Nick says:

      5-1, 2.17 ERA, 0.85 WHIP against the Tigers and White Sox this year.

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  3. Tribe Fan says:

    Pavano has either put together a quality start or has been shelled. In the games where he has been shelled, he leaves his fastball up and the opposing team hammers it. If he keeps the fastball knee high, he puts together a good performance. His first start of the season against Texas is a prime example of what happens when he leaves the ball up.

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  4. rizzo says:

    Couple of quick thoughts – has his fastball ever been that good? This is only his 3rd worst season with the FB (using wFB/C) in his career.

    RH’s are absolutely destroying him (13 HR’s .547 slg.). My guess without seeing him much is that he’s reluctant to throw change-ups much to RH’s leaving him with essentially a slider and a lousy FB. He’s throwing a lot of change-ups and has done moderately well against LH’s so I assume that’s his out pitch there but he’s lacking one for RH’s.

    Looks like he really walks a fine line, a boom or bust type of guy. This is more interesting than scientific – but in his last 10 starts he has no starts allowing 3-4 runs. You’d think that would be where a fairly high percentage of starts would cluster….. or maybe i’m just making that up

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  5. Kyle says:

    Mike- you are right.

    Karl- you are lolbad and your website, if it’s full of awful analysis like this, deserves to be removed from the internet.

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