August 8, 2009

Pavano should provide the Twins with some much-needed stability

After a tough series in Cleveland, the Twins finally acquired a pitcher which should have happened a week earlier. While it's tough to fault the Twins for not making a second move at the trade deadline, we can all agree that another move was necessary. The Twins left Cleveland and immediately acquired 33-year-old right-hander Carl Pavano from the Indians. Pavano may not be the pitcher most fans were hoping for, but he should help nonetheless.

Pavano - in spite of his 5.37 ERA - has had a pretty good season. He struggled early in the season, especially in his first outing where he gave up nine runs in just one inning of work, but since the start of May he's 9-5 with a 4.68 ERA. He was an All-Star back in 2004 with the Florida Marlins but has struggled to stay healthy since.

Much like Francisco Liriano, he has a good slider and set of secondary pitches, but his fastball hasn't been very effective. But unlike Liriano, his control has been good this season, walking an average of only 1.6 batters per nine innings pitched. Hitters have hit .299 against him this season but gets nearly half of his outs via the groundball. Pavano's xFIP is a very solid 4.15, which as Aaron Gleeman points out would lead the Twins' rotation.

The most valuable asset Pavano provides to the Twins is his successful track record against other American League Central opponents. With 36 of the team's remaining 53 games against other A.L. Central teams, Pavano's 8-5 record and 4.03 ERA against those teams should come in handy. Those aren't dominating numbers, by any means, but if you take out his struggles against the Royals, he's 7-2 with a 2.29 ERA. Meaning he's looked great against both the White Sox and Tigers throughout his career. But unfortunately for Pavano, the Twins are set to face the Royals 12 more times this season, more than any other opponent.

To make room for him on the 25-man roster, the Twins optioned knuckleball reliever R.A. Dickey to Triple-A Rochester where he'll join a struggling Red Wings rotation. I've discussed Dickey's struggles on this site recently, but I have to be honest that I'm a little surprised the Twins didn't opt to send fellow reliever Bobby Keppel down instead. Either way, one of them had to go and if it was Dickey now it may be Keppel later. To make room for him on the 60-man roster, the Twins transferred Boof Bonser to the 60-day Disabled List.

Pavano's a free agent after the season and is only due around $500,000 of his $1.5 million for the rest of the season, so if he fails, the Twins could choose to cut bait early. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didn't dismiss the possibility of the Twins adding another pitcher saying:
“There’s no telling how many more guys we’re negotiating with right now,” Gardenhire said. “I mean there could be a ton. I think, just talking to a couple guys in the office, we’ve talked to a lot of people.”

It's great to see that the Twins are showing serious efforts towards winning. And hopefully everything works out.

Pavano makes his first start for the Twins tonight against Tigers ace Justin Verlander. Pavano, for the time being, has taken Glen Perkins' rotation spot but that may only be temporary. Especially with Liriano currently away from the team for a family matter.