Saturday, July 18, 2009

Kubel, Keppel and a win

It's sure nice to have the Twins back after the break, isn't it? And even better to have them return with a win.

A couple of points:

1) Jason Kubel (above) had a home run and a single, and he's now bopping along with a .926 OPS. That's ninth best in the American League, but only third best among left-handed hitters on his own team (Joe Mauer's at 1.060, Justin Morneau's at .972).

Kubel probably would have been at their level earlier had he not blown out his knee back in the fall of 2004. It's taken a long time for his legs to get sound again.

But in one important way, he's not at the Mauer-Morenau level. He's still weak against his fellow southpaws. His slash stats: .356/.409/.663 vs. right-handed pitchers, .194/.256/.250 vs lefties.

2) Bobby Keppel had another strong outing: Six batters faced, six batters retired, three strikeouts. He now has an ERA of 0.63, and while that's obviously unsustainable, he's doing it with lots of ground balls (a GB/FB ratio of 1.86).

We have seen the Twins lean heavily in the past on right-handed pitchers (starters and relievers) who were said to rely on their sinker: Joe Mays and Carlos Silva, Luis Ayala and Brian Bass, to name four. None of them ever got this many ground balls.

It's a thin sample size. He hasn't fully converted me. But he's sure getting the job done.

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