Thursday, August 6, 2009

Two left-handed pitchers

By the time I returned to Mankato from a mission to my parents Wednesday, the Twins game was essentially over.

Francisco Liriano ( left) was having his customary problems commanding his fast ball.

Aaron Laffey (right) was getting grounder after grounder.

Laffey is a pitcher to keep an eye on. My print column a couple of weeks ago about Mark Buehrle put the White Sox lefty in the Tommy John family of pitchers — fairly low strikeout rates, very low walk rate, lots of grounders, lots of base hits, holds runners well, keeps the ball in the park. Laffey fits that profile even better than does Burhrle, with the exception of the walks. He's walked 29 hitters in 65-plus innings this year, and that's too many.

But time's on his side; he's just 24, and as noted in the Buehrle column, members of this family seldom peak young. I think that's a maturity factor — it takes time to master the nuances and to be patient with the approach. Two singles to start an inning might lead an inexperienced pitcher to panic; the older guy's been there and done that.

Cleveland's had Laffey up and down for three seasons — 40 games, 34 starts, 208-plus innings — and he's gone 14-12 with a 4.10 ERA.

He's a better bet going forward than Nick Blackburn or Glen Perkins, the Twins low-strikeout starters.

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