August 23, 2010
Playoff Odds Update
Twins Continue Their Rise
The Twins aren't a lock to be playing in the postseason, but they are getting close to being one, thanks to winning two head-to-head series with the White Sox, their closest competitors in the American League Central.
Baseball Prospectus' Playoff Odds Report gives the Twins an 85.1 percent chance of playing in October now that they hold a five-game lead over the White Sox after winning four of six meetings in the past two weeks. The Twins' odds have increased by 27.1 percentage points in the past two weeks, going up from 58.0 and representing the largest gain among major-league teams in that span.
Here are the top five gainers:
Brian Duensing, who was moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation last month, continued to give the Twins a lift as he won both starts in the past two weeks, allowing one run in 17 innings for a 0.53 ERA. Catcher Joe Mauer hit .405/.509/.619 to help the Twins go 9-3.
The Twins suffered some bad news over the weekend as starting pitcher Kevin Slowey and left-handed reliever Ron Mahay were placed on the disabled list. Nick Blackburn and Anthony Slama were recalled from Triple-A Rochester to take their places.
Slowey's loss would seemingly hurt the Twins more as he has contributed 2.0 wins above a replacement player this season, according to Baseball Prospectus' WARP metric. Blackburn had minus 1.6 WARP in 18 starts before being optioned to Rochester last month, meaning he was below replacement level.
Mahay has 0.4 WARP this season and leaves the Twins with converted starter Glen Perkins as their only left-hander in the bullpen. However, Slama had a 1.82 ERA in 59 1/3 innings at Rochester while allowing just 5.5 hits per nine innings and striking out 10.6 per nine.
The Padres went 10-3 and increased their postseason hopes by 16.8 points thanks to strong pitching. Jon Garland won all three starts with a 0.98 ERA, Clayton Richard got the victory in both his starts with a 2.13 ERA, Mat Latos was 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts with 19 strikeouts in 13 innings and Heath Bell had six saves. Journeyman center fielder Chris Denorfia continued his improbable hot hitting with a .385/.467/.538 line.
Rays rookie Jeremy Hellickson was 2-0 with 1.86 ERA in three starts and 19 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings before being optioned to high Class A Port Charlotte, where he will be converted into a reliever then returned to the major leagues on Sept. 1 when the roster limit expands from 25 to 40. Hellickson helped the Rays go 9-4 and improve their playoff odds by 12.3 points while Rafael Soriano had six saves and pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings.
The White Sox continued to fade by going 4-9, decreasing their playoff chances by 29.6 percentage points in two weeks from 46.6 percent to 17.0. Gavin Floyd lost both starts and had a 9.75 ERA and J.J. Putz took three losses in six relief appearances while posting a 9.53 ERA. The Dodgers' hopes dropped by 12.9 points after a 5-8 stretch and the Giants fell 11.0 points by going 6-7 as center fielder Andres Torres struck out 14 times in 43 at-bats, prompting San Francisco to claim Cody Ross off waivers from the Marlins on Sunday.
The five biggest losers:
A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider .