April is over. The Twins are in first place 14-8. They finally lost their first series to the Tigers this weekend to what was really an ugly series. To be honest I do not even want to talk about it. Scott Baker's mechanics are off and you can tell he is leaving the ball up the same way he was last April. The bullpen finally imploded and the offense finally got shut out for the first time. Credit that Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer were out of the lineup that game.
Fransisco Liriano: I think it is safe to say he has arrived. Liriano is in a stretch of 23 consecutive innings without giving up a run. Liriano looked spectacular out dueling Tiger ace Justin Verlander. Liriano went 8 innings walked 2 and struck out 10 (double digits for first time since 2006). I am still waiting for him to have a rough start where he needs to battle. He did that in his first start against Chicago, but that was opening day and it was under 40 degrees so I just want to give that a wash.
Side Note: congrats to Luke Hughes. In his first major league at bat, Hughes went yard on national tv (ESPN). Tigers fans kindly threw the ball to Maglio Ordonez who threw the ball to the Twins dugout. He has also played some very good defense and looks like he belongs. Twins might be looking for Hughes to be a better long term option at 2B over Alexi Casilla or Matt Tolbert.
Health: Joe Nathan, Nick Punto, JJ Hardy, Orlando Hudson, Justin Morneau, Jose Mijares, Pat Neshek have all has some sort of injury during this course of this season. I really do not want this to be a season where we say for months, "lets just wait until they are full strength". Might not happen.
After April I just want to clarify what I have right so far from my preseason predictions.
1)Fransisco Liriano is clear cut comeback player of the year.
2)Twins are still on pace for over 90 wins
3)Twins are on pace to be better then the AL West Champ who I still think will be LA
4)Twins are better then Red Sox and Angels
5)Denard Span is on pace for 30 steals even though he is hitting well below .250
6)John Rauch will easily clear 20 saves
7)Pat Neshek will definitely have 0 saves
8)Carlos Gutierrez is still a toss up as starter or closer.
9)I said Liriano will be under 4.00 ERA. Right now he is under 1.00
10)Twins did reach out to San Diego for Heath Bell but conversations died in March
11)I still think a package will include either Ben Revere or Angel Morales who are both hitting well.
12)Twins look like they will have 3 guys go 200 innings right now. I initially thought Blackburn was going to be one of them but I did not specify in my predictions so suck it.
13)Twins Minor League pitcher of the year right now is Kyle Gibson. Liam Hendricks is making a run but Gibson's complete game 1 hit shutout gave him the edge so far.
Twins are off to Cleveland for 3 game series with the Indians to close their 9 game road trip. Nick Blackburn was scratched for game 1 which will go to Kevin Slowey. Slowey went 8 great innings last week against the Indians with 9 strikeouts.
Friday: Kevin Slowey vs Fausto Carmona
Saturday: ? vs Justin Masterson
Sunday: Fransico Liriano vs David Huff
Twins do not know whether Blackburn will be ready for Saturday. Chance of Brian Duenseng making a spot start or Blackburn being put on DL with elbow discomfort and possibly Jeff Manship getting the call up.