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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