Posted at 12:45 PM on May 21, 2009
by David Zingler
In the midst of a 6-game losing streak, the Twins currently sit at 18-23, 6 ½ games out of first place in the AL Central. While the bullpen has (predictably) faltered, the two biggest reasons for the team's struggles so far are:
1. Scott Baker
1-5, 6.98 ERA, 38 2/3 IP, 43 H, 30 ER, 10 HR
2. Francisco Liriano
2-5, 6.04 ERA, 50 2/3 IP, 49 H, 34 ER, 25 BB
Coming into this season Baker and Liriano were expected to anchor the rotation; instead they're in the process of pitching their way out of it. Liriano has struggled with his control and confidence while Baker is leaving the ball up in the zone.
We may have to come to the sad realization that Liriano peaked during his amazing first half run in 2006 (12-3, 2.16 ERA). Right now, it's unrealistic to expect him to come close to that kind of dominance with his surgically repaired left elbow. We should however, expect better than 49 hits in 50+ innings from a guy who used to toy with hitters.
Baker is even more frustrating to me. Either the shoulder problem that landed him on the Disabled List to start the season is worse than he is letting on or he simply doesn't have his head in the game. After watching the usually reserved Rick Anderson light into Baker on Tuesday, it appears the pitching coach is convinced it's the latter.
There are still over 4 months for Baker and Liriano to get their acts together, but if they don't soon, this will be a loooooooong final summer in the Metrodome.
(Photos by Getty Images)