Over the past two years, the Twins have gone 129-195 (.398) finishing dead last in the AL central both seasons. Not surprisingly, the Twins went 65-79 (.451) against their division rivals during this time. On the upside, the Twins found success against the down trodden Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians 40-32 (.555) yet went an embarrassing 25-47 (.347) against the Tigers and White Sox.
If the Twins truly want to have divisional success in 2013, they particularly need to improve against the Tigers and White Sox. Much of the Twins' failures against these foes have been attributed to their poor performances against starting pitching. The following articles evaluates five AL Central aces the Twins must improve against for divisional success in 2013.
Note: Individual player stats are figures against the Twins from 2011 to 2012, via BaseballMusings.com.
Stats: 5-0, 1.67 ERA, 7.2 Innings per Start, 9.1 K/9, and 5.43 K/BB through 38.1 IP
Who hasn't Justin Verlander done at least decently well against in the last two years?
In particular, the Tigers' ace has performed extremely well against the Twins. His perfect record, low ERA, and amazing 7.2 Innings per Start against Minnesota, earns him the title of Twins Killer.
Unfortunately for the Twins, they play the Tigers 19 times in 2013. Assuming that the Tigers start Verlander every five games, the Twins can expect to see him about four times. If they want to climb out of the cellar, Minnesota cannot afford to go 0-4 against him.
Stats: 6-3, 3.07 ERA, 8.2 K/9, and 4.64 K/BB through 55.2 IP
Like Verlander, Jake Peavy has done well against most teams in the past two seasons. Though Peavy doesn't have a perfect record against the Twins, he pitched quite well with a good record, ERA and dominating strikeouts.
The Twins also play division rival the Chicago White Sox 19 times next season. Presumably, the Twins could face Peavy four times in 2013. If the Twins want to win the AL Central, they can't afford to go 0-4 or even 1-3 against him.
Stats: 3-0, .69 ERA, 8.3 K/9, and 8 K/BB through 27 IP
In one season of action against the Twins, the 23-year-old Chris Sale has already proven he's a force to be reckoned with. His perfect record, unheard of ERA and dominated pitching style virtually silenced the Twins in 2012.
Sale is a part of the ChiSox starting rotation who outdid the Twins in 2012. The Twins need to find his weaknesses now before the youngster turns into another career long Twins Killer, not to mention a stymie in their 2013 AL Central charge forward.
Stats: 3-1, 3.79 ERA, 9.5 K/9, and 5.00 K/BB through 38 IP.
Over the past three seasons, Max Scherzer has been one of the more dominating pitchers in the AL Central and the entire majors. Not so surprisingly is his success against the Twins. Like fellow Tiger Justin Verlander, Scherzer has outdone the Twins.
Theoretically, the Twins the will face Scherzer four times in 2013. They cannot afford to go 1-3 against him and 0-4 against Verlander. If they want to gain any ground in the AL Central, they cannot post a 1-7 record against these two pitchers.
Stats: 4-1, 3.71 ERA, through 43.2 IP
Rick Porcello is another 23 year old who needs to be taken seriously by the Twins. As part of the Tigers' rotation, Porcello has won 48 games over the past four years, helping the Tigers win back-to-back AL Central championships. Over this period, Porcello has pitched well against the Twins.
Like Sale of the White Sox, The Twins need to find Porcello's weaknesses now, before the youngster turns into a career long divisional Twins Killer. The Twins also can't win the AL Central if they go 1-3 against him for a combined 2-10 against the Tigers trio of Verlander-Scherzer-Porcello.