In a game where perfection is looked at in such high regard, imperfection is viewed as a plague in baseball.
Prior to August 27th, Glen Perkins was a surprisingly good pitcher. Stuck in the middle of a transition from the bullpen, this 25-year old young man sported an ERA of 3.90 to go with an 11-3 record. He was getting the job done as the fifth starter in the Minnesota rotation.
Then he slowly started to unravel.
He went seven innings against Seattle on the 27th of August, giving up four runs on eight hits as he watched his ERA balloon by six points. Things only went downhill from there. Every start he has made in the month of September has been a disaster. He has given up twenty runs in his last four starts (unearned included). His ERA during that time is a whopping 9.42.
Or should I say, "during this time." Perkins hasn't found his paddle yet, and he is clearly up the creek without one.
Last night Perkins was slated to start against the Tampa Bay Rays and lasted all of two outs. He allowed five runs to score, of which only two were earned. You could excuse his most recent poor outing and place the blame on the shoulders of the defense behind him, but the fact of the matter is that his xFIP is a glaring 5.06. That means that when you remove factors beyond Perkin's control, he has an ERA of 5.06.
Perkins average WPA (Win Probability Added) during his last four games is -.210, meaning that the last four times he has taken the mound the Twins have had lost over 20% of their chance to win. By contrast, the Royal's Kyle Davies, who is far from consistent, has an average WPA of .038 during his last four starts.
What is causing Perkins to shut down? The most obvious and logical reason is the dramatic increase in workload. While he hasn't pitched very many innings compared to other starting pitchers, Perkins has already passed his pitch count from last year by over 500. The simple reasoning behind his lack of inspiring starts could very well be the fact that he is overworked.
Even if that wasn't the case, Perkins will only make one more trip to the mound in 2008, at least in a starter role. Should the Twins find a way to overtake the Chicago White Sox in their division Perkins will almost certainly be moved back to the bullpen, where he can be more effective. The Twins would probably move to a three man rotation in the playoffs; Liriano, Baker, and Slowey.
And I refuse to talk about Blackburn and his horrible starts lately.