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The Process Versus The Minnesota Twins

Apr 17, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA;  Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Francisco Liriano (47) pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE
Apr 17, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Francisco Liriano (47) pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

Friday, 7:10pm: Liam Hendriks vs. Matt Moore

Sandy Kazmir beat me to the punch (seriously, read his FanPost), but Hendriks is essentially a typical Twins starter: he doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he succeeds by being "crafty" and limiting his walks. He has four pitches -- fastball, curve, change, and slider -- and his fastball typically sits around 90 MPH (can pump it up a bit more on occasion). His changeup is probably his best secondary pitch, but none of his breaking balls is especially noteworthy; according to scouting reports, he has mediocre stuff but gets the most out of it possible. From an old scouting report at BPro:

"It's not crazy stuff, but he really knows what he's doing," the scout explained. "He sits in the upper 80s with his fastball, tops out at 91 mph, and throws a curve, slider, and change. He's a potential No. 5 starter-he really pounds the strike zone, and the best word to describe him might be 'crafty.'"

Hendriks doesn't have an extensive MLB history yet; this will be six start in the majors, and he's still just 23 years old. If he sounds like a somewhat boring pitcher, consider this: he's from Australia, so that automatically adds in some cool factor.

Saturday, 7:10pm: Carl Pavano vs. James Shields

The best I can tell, Carl Pavano remains the same pitcher he always has been in recent years. He works three pitches -- a two-seam fastball, changeup, and slider -- and although he doesn't generate many strikeouts, he limits his walks and makes batters hit the ball on the ground. His ground ball rate has sat just above 50% over the past few years, in large part thanks to his heavy use of the two-seam fastball.

Pavano has a whiff rate on both his changeup and slider around 27-28% -- not crazy high, but respectable -- and he goes to his changeup slightly more often with two strikes. He's willing to go to any of his pitches late in the count, though, so he's a tough one to out-smart. Again, he's another Twins pitcher that succeeds by mixing his pitches well.

One thing to keep an eye on: Pavano's fastball velocity normally sits around 89-90 MPH, but it's averaged a mere 86 MPH over his first three starts this year. If his velocity remains low, he could suddenly become quite hittable.

Sunday, 1:40pm: Francisco Liriano vs. Jeff Niemann

Despite his poor ERA and peripherals last season (5.09 ERA, 4.53 SIERA), Francisco Liriano was one of those pitchers I couldn't help but fall in love with. He was still generating a crazy amount of swings and misses with his pitches (11.4%), and although his control was all over the place at times, his "stuff" was still dominant.

Liriano throws four pitches -- four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider, and changeup -- and he uses his fastballs around 50% of the time, his (still filthy) slider 30% of the time, and his changeup the remaining 20% of the time. Both his slider and changeup have whiff rates over 40%, although he almost exclusively uses his slider when in two-strike counts.

Recently, though, Liriano's control has held him back and prevented him from being successful. He walked too many hitters last year and his strikeout rate dropped to just above average, and so far this year, the trend has continued. He has great stuff, but if he can't control it, he becomes an average to below-average pitcher.

All data is from 2011 unless otherwise stated. Also, all tables are sortable if you click on the column headers. Sorry the splits aren't regressed yet...I will get to that later on this season, though.

Name FIP vs. L FIP vs. R
Alex Burnett 3.07 5.45
Brian Duensing 2.11 5.22
Glen Perkins 3.14 1.88
Jared Burton 22.03 2.21
Jeff Gray 4.14 4.83
Matt Capps 5.37 4.21
Matt Maloney 9.18 6.35

Name PA wOBA vs. L PA wOBA vs. R
Alexi Casilla 116 0.256 249 0.329
Chris Parmelee 22 0.405 66 0.460
Danny Valencia 159 0.356 449 0.275
Denard Span 86 0.301 225 0.309
Jamey Carroll 140 0.334 370 0.309
Joe Mauer 126 0.261 207 0.356
Josh Willingham 186 0.336 377 0.355
Justin Morneau 95 0.183 193 0.319
Ryan Doumit 62 0.397 174 0.350
Sean Burroughs 14 0.280 101 0.275
Trevor Plouffe 84 0.337 236 0.296
Clete Thomas - - - -