Minnesota Twins draft Ohio State’s Alex Wimmers in 1st round

Alex Wimmers

Alex Wimmers has already distinguished himself on the playing field as an Ohio State Buckeye by becoming the first-ever back-to-back Big Ten Pitcher of the Year.

Wimmers, a draft-eligible junior from Cincinnati and Archbishop Moeller High School, became only the sixth first-round draft pick in Ohio State history when the Minnesota Twins chose him with the 21st pick of the first round in the 2010 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft. He joins an exclusive list of Ohio State first-rounders that includes current New York Yankee Nick Swisher, the 16th overall pick of the 2002 first-year player draft.

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Minnesota Timberwolves Off-season Rebuilding Plans

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By: Peter Christian and David Kay

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With the 30th Pick the Minnesota Vikings select…

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by Peter Christian

The Vikings have a love/hate relationship with the NFL draft. Well, I guess I should say I have a love/hate relationship with the Vikings NFL Draft decisions. They’ve had their share of great 1st round picks over the years (Randy Moss, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Kevin Williams) but they’ve also had their share of disastrous blunders (Demetrius Underwood, Troy Williamson, handing in the draft card late in 2003). I’ll admit that the current front office has done a good job at identifying good prospects in the first round in the past few years but since they are in fact the Vikings, I maintain my ability to be ready for a letdown (read: Vikings entire history).

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Gophers Crush Purdue, Earn NCAA Bid

By Mike Gallagher

Ok, so that’s speculation.  But honestly, how do you leave the Gophers out of the field of 65 now?

After squeaking out an overtime victory against Michigan State Friday and ending Purdue’s Big Ten tournament Saturday in embarrassing fashion, the Gophers have done everything it could be asked to do to come all the way back from bubble nothingness, to get an NCAA tournament bid.
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Gophers Upset Michigan State, Set Up Key Clash With Purdue

By Mike Gallagher

Minnesota looked like they were ready to punch their ticket to the Big Ten Semifinals Friday with a 55-48 lead with 3:27 left to play.

But you had to know it wasn’t over. [Read more…]

Minnesota-Northwestern Preview: Loser to the NIT?

By Paul M. Banks and Mike Gallagher

(PMB) Given that both of these teams just suffered EMBARASSING losses (Minnesota losing at home to lowly Michigan, Northwestern getting blown out in Iowa City by a very weak Iowa team), this game today is essentially a “play-out game.” The loser of this one will pretty much have their bubble burst. Unless they respond very well from this loss and then run the table during the rest of their conference slate, and win a game or two in the Big Ten Tournament. Of course, you think Goldy Gopher is already out of the running? This Valentine’s Day, it seems like these two middle of the road Big Ten teams are in the final round of “Elimidate” regarding making the Big Dance…. [Read more…]

Orlando Hudson on the verge of joining Twins

Twins GM Bill Smith deserves some credit, finally

By: Andy Weise

Sometimes when I think of Minnesota Twins General Manager Billy Smith, the famous Dumb & Dumber line comes up. “Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself!”

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Tim Brewster’s Recruiting Classes: Failing

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By Mike Gallagher

It’s been six years since Paul Bunyan’s axe has graced Minnesota’s campus.  The case in which it rests is a barren and pathetic sight.  You could say it almost resembled the play of the Gophers last Saturday.  The score had no business being as close at it was. Zach Brown handed the Gophers seven garbage time pts. via fumble.

Somehow, the Gophers managed to scrape together one more chance.  That, however, was quickly squashed by the Gophers O-line, which was issuing free passes for the Badgers defensive linemen to get in.  Weber had no more than two seconds to find anyone on the last drive and finally fumbled to end the game, but he can hardly be blamed for that.

It was a game the Gophers needed to win for gaining legitimacy on the Big Ten stage.  When they needed it most, the supporting cast did not step up, which seems to be a recurring theme around TCF Bank Stadium.  You can only lose so many games versus legitimate opponents before people start asking what the problem is.  Don’t look too deep though, because this one is easy.

Take a look at the Gophers stats page on any website or media guide you have handy.  Who are the key contributors?  Look closely, and you’ll notice a trend.  Almost everyone giving anything worthwhile is a senior.  Eric Decker and Nick Tow-Arnett (1-2 in receiving yards), redshirt junior (a.k.a. senior) Adam Weber. Nate Triplett, Lee Campbell, and Simoni Lawrence are the top three tacklers on the squad, and starting corners Treye Simmons and Marcus Sherels.

The list goes on, but the real interesting list here is the underclassmen:  WR’s Vincent Hill, Brandon Green and Brodrick Smith, RB’s Duane Bennett, Shady Solomon and Deleon Eskridge.  Brewster’s QB son Clint and prize of Brewster’s 2008 recruiting class QB Marqueis Gray. timbrewsteryelling

These are just the position players he’s brought in to plug holes, but they’ve been more like sieves than plugs for the offense.  This is especially true with the hands of former four-star recruit Brandon Green, who is being relied on as a second option, but can’t seem to hold on to the ball.  The other four-star recruit, Vincent Hill, no longer attends the U and is not listed on any college roster anywhere now.  Brodrick Smith and Clint Brewster also transferred.  Marqueis Gray was an All-American in high school and 4 star recruit, and has contributed nothing.  Yes, he has Weber ahead of him on the depth chart, but the coaching staff has still been unable to find anyway to really make him produce consistently on the field. The three running backs are 1-2-3 on the depth chart, but it’s a non-existent running attack that has only yielded 96 yards a game (106th in the nation).

Both of the last two classes have been nationally ranked coming in.  But key departures and lack of development from very naturally talented athletes have hurt key positions.  It’s clearly showing how their stars can only carry them so far.  They need to put something together outside of Adam Weber to Eric Decker or they’re going to suffer a brutal wake up call against Penn State and Ohio State after they dispose of Purdue next week.

Some help from underclassmen would be nice, but since they can’t perform, it lies on the seniors.  Let’s not think about next year, because it might make this year look like a national title.

NFC North Predictions

Packers Cowboys Football

By the The Sports Bank Staff

1. Chicago (10-6) Jay Cutler hoopla aside, remember one thing, this division isn’t very good. Best Quarterback=best chance at winning week to week. Yes, I know their receivers and overall pass rush is a hot mess, but who else really has the talent to beat a team that was 9-7 last year and greatly improved themselves?

2. Minnesota (9-7) Purple Jesus will have to carry the load on offense, unlike Baby Jesus, the star of the Minnesota baseball team. He has more support in generating offense. What’s with people in the land of 10,000 Lakes nicknaming their sports stars after Jesus? I thought the “Bible Belt” was in the South?

3. Green Bay (7-9)
I like Aaron Rodgers, but I don’t think he’ll have a better season than Culter. The Pack’s season will hinge on 1.) The job that new Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers does 2.) How quickly his players adjust from the 4-3 to the 3-4.

4. Detroit (3-13) Much of the old regime is gone, so that’s a good thing, right? Like the title character in “What About Bob?” said “baby steps, baby steps.” Their pathetic excuse for a ground game has been improving and I like 3rd pick DL Cliff Avril. Look for this sleeper pick to augment the pass rush.

Offensive MVP: Aaron Rodgersbearscover

Defensive MVP: Lance Briggs

–PAUL M. BANKS

DAVID KAY:

1. Packers- Keeping my homering in mind, doesn’t it seem like people are sleeping on the Pack?  All the talk has been around Favre and the Vikes, Cutler and the Bears, and GB has flown under the radar this off-season.  Consider they lost 7 games last season by five points or less, dealt with the pre-season Favre circus, had a first year QB in Aaron Rodgers who exceeded expectations, and a running back who held out and then battled injuries all year, and this team should be much better.

2. Vikings- No matter what they say at camp, you can’t tell me Tavaris Jackson and/or Sage Rosenfels have any confidence in themselves right now… No way.

3. Bears- I am just not buying this whole “Jay Cutler is our savior” thing going on in Chicago.  They have no receivers and an aging defense.

4. Lions- I saw Matt Millen at Big Ten Media Day in Chicago.  He was in line behind me getting food.  He told me that he could put mustard and onions on anything and it would taste good.  Because of his butchering of the Lions franchise, I couldn’t even take his food choices seriously and instead put mayo on my sandwich, no onions.  I know that has nothing to do with this year’s Detroit team, but who really cares about the Lions in this division?

OPY: Aaron Rodgers-
Again, accuse me of homering.  I’m okay with it.  But assuming AP can’t stay healthy for the whole season when the Vikes give him 35 carries a game because their quarterback can’t complete a five-yard out route, Rodgers should be able to top his 4,038 yards and 28 TD’s from a year ago.  (I was really tempted to pick Brett Favre by the way, just to piss people off.)

DPY: Jared Allen- Just because if I didn’t pick him and he happened to see this, I would be terrified that he would shoot me with a hunting bow and then eat my carcass raw.  But seriously, I think he is an animal on the field and that he would be a fun guy to grab a beer with.

purplejesus

SHAYMUS MCLAUGHLIN:

1.) Minnesota Vikings 11-5

They won the division last year with a Tarvaris-Jackson-Gus Frerotte combo at QB. There’s no reason to think they can’t win again with Sage Rosenfels (a better QB than either of the other two) at the helm. A RB that the Bears can’t stop, plus a solid WR corps led by Berrian and a bounce-back Sidney Rice; throw in Percy Harvin and the Wildcat and things become much more dynamic on offense. They have to get over the loss of Matt Birk, but it shouldn’t be a huge problem. On defense, they’ll be as strong as usual, especially with EJ Henderson coming back from injury. Safety is the biggest concern, with the oft-injured but talented Madieu Williams and second-year player Tyrell Johnson (who filled in respectably last year) defending the pass. Overall, a solid team that got more explosive offensively and didn’t lose much this offseason.

2) Green Bay Packers 8-8

Aaron Rodgers is a very solid young QB, and he has a couple fantastic WRs in Driver and Jennings. Their O-line is decent, but not great, and the running game scares me. I don’t think Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson are helping the offense much. Their defense should be pretty good, with a solid LB duo in Barnett and Hawk, a good D-Line bolstered by 1st round draft pick BJ Raji, and a veteran group of CBs with great press coverage. Those corners are getting up there in age though, and they’re a bit thin so they need to stay healthy. It’s a solid team that probably lost a couple more than it should have last year.

3) Chicago Bears 8-8

Yes, they added their first legitimate QB in years with Jay Cutler. Yes Matt Forte is already one of the best all-around RBs in the league (He will be Brian Westbrook, minus the injuries- in a couple years.). Yes, they have patched up their offensive line nicely with Orlando Pace, 2008 first round pick Chris Williams, and the extremely underrated Kevin Shaffer. What about the receivers? Rashied Davis and rookie Juaquin Iglesias are not going to cut it, and Hester is nothing but a fly pattern runner. I don’t see this offense moving that well game-in, game-out. They will have some great games, but a few stinkers as well. millen

On the defensive side, their CBs haven’t stayed healthy in years and their starting safeties are some combination of Craig Steltz, Danieal Manning, Kevin Payne, and FA signee Josh Bullocks, the latter of which was let go by the Saints, who had one of the worst defenses in the league. Their LBs are always good, but a bit on the slower side, and their pass rush last year was nearly non-existent (especially with former rookie stud Mark Anderson disappearing).

4) Detroit Lions 4-12

They’re on the right track, but they still have quite a ways to go. Stafford should sit this year behind Daunte Culpepper and learn the playbook. Culpepper is not a bad QB either, and the Lions picked up a great playmaking TE in Brandon Pettigrew via the draft to help complement Calvin Johnson on offense. Their line still needs some work and the running game isn’t great, but they are at least moving in a direction. They just need to be patient with Stafford this year. On defense, they have a couple solid playmakers (Ernie Sims, new arrival Larry Foote, and the aging Philip Buchanan) but have way too many holes to stop even some of the weakest offenses. I’m not sure where a pass rush is going to come from, and the secondary is pretty unimpressive outside of Buchanan. It’s a work in progress for the Lions.

OPOY: Adrian Peterson (with Forte right behind…I love that kid)

DPOY: Jared Allen


DAVID PALMER

1.  Minnesota (11-5): The ‘Queens are a very balanced team with no real gaping holes on either side of the ball.  The offensive line will have to play better than expected to make a real run in the playoffs, but with a healthy Keith Farwell, EJ Henderson and Jared Allen will only help.

2. Green Bay (10-6):
A disappointing last season will see a rebound with Aaron Rodgers able to focus knowing he’s the starter this preseason; Still a very good defense behind Al Harris, AJ Hawk, Nick Barnett and Aaron Kampman. The running game is a big question mark with Ryan Grant as the primary ball carrier.  They must throw their way into the playoffs.

3. Chicago (8-8):
Even with Jay Cutler, they are going to inconsistent at best.  Charles Tillman is already hurt and he’s their best CB.  I think they have one of the most overrated defenses in the league anyway.  Great linebackers, but nobody scares me on their D-Line.  And I’m still not sure who will be catching Cutler’s throws, Hester?  Combine that with his first year in the system and I see a struggle to finish .500.

4.  Detroit (3-13):
Well, they can’t do worse than last year.  Stafford will go through some growing pains no doubt, but probably also show some signs by the end of the year.  Having Calvin Johnson can only help his development, but there are just too many holes to win many games.  No way that offense keeps up with all the points their porous defense will give up.badasses

Offensive MVP: The great Adrian Peterson.

Defensive MVP: Jared Allen.  He’s healthy after playing with one arm for the second half of last season and still compiling 14.5 sacks.

DAVID BOUCHER:

Personnel changes affect every team every off-season, but the magnitude and frequency of those in the NFC North the past few months have earned the attention of the entire nation. With Brett Favre turning over the same leaf, Green Bay changing their defensive scheme, Chicago landing a new face for the franchise, and Detroit generally puttering along in another new direction, the black and blue division has been the most dynamic in football in 2009.

However, the team with the least amount of turnover will actually fare the best: Minnesota. Even without the future HOF-er holding the reins, the team still has the most potent weapon in football. Adrian Peterson will continue to live up to his nickname, scoring “All Day” for the Vikings and earning the conference MVP award on offense, while Jared Allen paces an explosive and run-stuffing defense. The fight for second will be the most interesting, however. Although Jay Cutler could hit Devin Hester in the Lambeau end zone from Lake Shore Drive, the Packers offense has more talent from top to bottom. Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson present far bigger problems for defenses than the former CB Hester and the untested Earl Bennett. Even with the Pack-Attacks’s switch to the 3-4 on defense, Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk have more lateral movement and play-making ability than the aged Brian Urlacher or Lance Briggs. Barnett will need to have a career-year in order for the new scheme to pay dividends, and I think he will, becoming the Defensive MVP in the North.lions1

Which leaves us with the Lions. I wish I could say they would make it to 8-8… or even 6-10. But that’s just wishful thinking. I’ll give them five wins because I’ve been a life-long fan, but their new system, traditionally shoddy defense, and the perpetual spotlight shinning on Daunte-Stafford drama just leave too many question marks.
They’ve gotten a little better, though; Julian Peterson has got to be worth at least two wins, right?

MINNESOTA: 11-5
GREEN BAY: 10-6
CHICAGO: 9-7
DETROIT: 5-11 (Please, PLEASE let me be wrong here!)

Yes We Kahn: Timberwolves Continue Dealing

kahnwolves

By Andy Weise

Recently appointed Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn continued his summer of making headlines as he packaged Mark Madsen, Sebastian Telfair and Craig Smith to the Los Angeles Clippers for Quentin Richardson. Richardson has now had four homes this off-season after he was dealt from New York to Memphis and then from Memphis to the Clippers. He addresses the Wolves’ shooting guard need after Mike Miller and Randy Foye were dealt to Washington the day before the draft, which landed the Wolves the No. 5 overall pick (which became Ricky Rubio.)
Kahn has now made two multi-players trades and decided against bringing back Kevin McHale as the head coach. 86343355JP007_DRAFTPORTRAITSHe is also traveling to Spain to try and negotiate with Ricky Rubio’s buyout, which the Wolves can only pay $500,000 towards.

Clearly Kahn and McHale saw some things differently and that is why McHale isn’t coaching again next year. Kahn has also traded five of McHale’s guys this offseason. Madsen was more a cheerleader than a rotation player the last couple of years but he was the last remaining guy from the Wolves 2003-2004 run to the Western Conference Finals. Madsen was somewhat of a fan favorite in Minnesota but he never deserved the five year contract McHale handed to him the summer of 2005.

Smith and Telfair were two of the young guns McHale was trying to build with and after Telfair had failed to live up to expectations in Portland and Boston, he seemed to have found a home in Minnesota as a capable backup point guard. Smith seemed to be lost in the shuffle after the Washington deal brought in three front court players with more size than the undersized power forward from Boston College.

What was going through the mind of the Clippers?

Well, first off they get a much needed backup point guard for the sometimes injured Baron Davis.  Telfair should be a good insurance policy for a team with plenty of weapons in the event that Davis goes down. Smith and Madsen will help with the departure of Zach Randolph who was dealt for Richardson originally. With Blake Griffin, Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman in the front court, Smith should be able to find some time and Madsen likely will continue his cheerleading ways. The Clippers have basically sent away Randolph and added Griffin and three decent role players. If the Clippers do actually add Allen Iverson, there is actually some reason for interest in L.A.’s second team.
Richardson’s shooting will definitely help the Wolves, a team that wants to play more up-tempo but still possesses a significant weapon in the half court game: Al Jefferson. It’s hard to say at this point if Richardson will stay on the team because he is another expiring contract but for now let’s just say he will remain a T’Wolf for the year.  He is in the final year of his contract so he should be motivated to prove to people he still deserves another payday in the NBA. The Wolves are now stacked with expiring contracts belonging to Richardson (9.35 mil), Etan Thomas (7.35 mil) and Brian Cardinal (6.75 mil). On top of that, they could again have three first round picks and plenty of cap room. Stay tuned to see what Kahn does next. For now, Wolves fans will continue to echo those three words, “Yes We Kahn.”

Who will coach the Wolves?

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By Andy Weise
Who would have thought a month ago the general public would be more curious about the Timberwolves than the Pistons? Thanks to new President of Basketball Operations David Kahn, the T’Wolves have filled headlines with a major pre-draft trade that landed international star Ricky Rubio. While the Rubio situation figures to be an on-going situation throughout the course of the summer, the Wolves still have yet to hire a new head coach.

After all, isn’t this pretty important to have a coach in place so the right players are there for that coach’s system?

Well, because Kahn decided not to retain Kevin McHale shortly before the draft, there was just not enough time for Kahn to interview all possible candidates. Let me take you through some of the options for the future coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves:

Terry Porter:

His leash at Phoenix was incredibly short although he was coaching a team that was significantly underachieving and the personnel didn’t fit his profile. Porter could be a great fit with a young up-and-coming team that needs to learn how to play good defense. Porter’s name hasn’t really come up yet as a possible hire so I would be surprised if he gets the job. He would, however, be a great hire for an assistant coach if Mark Jackson is the hire.terry-porter

Monty Williams:

The newest name to the search, a former NBA player who has spent time on the Portland bench the last several seasons. We all know how the situation ended up the last time the Wolves went after an assistant for the Blazers – Tom Penn, who ended up getting a raise and some type of promotion within the front office after supposedly getting offered the head GM gig for the Wolves. Williams is sort of an unknown so I would be surprised if they go that way but we are talking about David Kahn here. Kahn seems like he likes to make noise, not  sure if this makes the type of noise he likes.

Mike Fratello:

Veteran coach, supposedly was Kahn’s picked for top assistant which then had McHale saying no thanks. Fratello doesn’t really excite me too much though. He coached the Hawks in the ’80s with Dominique Wilkins, and had mild success in Cleveland during the 90s. His time in Memphis was rather short a few years ago but again, this pick just doesn’t jump out when you have a team of young players like the Wolves.

Bill Laimbeer:

So he’s had some success in the WNBA. Big deal. Laimbeer wasn’t a well liked player during his time in the NBA unless you were a Pistons fan. There is speculation that he could end up as the top assistant in Minnesota, which I am OK with that as long as he’s not the replacement for the new coach when that guy will get fired in a year and a half (probably). I would have rather had Kevin McHale stay on than have Laimbeer get his first shot at coaching here.

Sam Mitchell:

Common sense says Sam Mitchell, the former Wolves player and mentor to Kevin Garnett, should get a look. After having some success at Toronto, he was sent home last year when the Raptors looked horrible. In my opinion, Bryan Colangelo never really thought Mitchell was a good fit so he waited for the right opportunity to let him go. (On a side note: Jay Triano, coach of the Raptors, don’t get too comfortable, Marc Iavaroni was just hired as your assistant. Iavaroni is a Colangelo favorite).

Del Harris:

Here’s an interesting situation. The guy was an assistant for the last 10 years and is 72 years old. Charles Barkley recently came out and said Harris should be the guy for the Wolves.  As a head coach, he’s missed the playoffs once and was fired twice early into his last season’s with Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Pretty much the rumored favorite to this point. Jackson was a great floor general during his long NBA career but his lack of any coaching can make people a bit nervous. The ties with Kahn are there (both were part of the Indiana organization at the same time), so I would not be surprised if this were the pick. They have to surround Jackson though with some veteran coaches if he ends up being the guy.


Avery Johnson:

Supposedly the favorite to land the Detroit Pistons job now. Avery has always been an interesting coach, his fire and intensity can be a great thing about him and it can also turn off some players. His experience of playing the point guard position on championship teams and coaching the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA finals makes him a great candidate for any opening but he might be looking more for a sure thing. The Wolves are anything but a sure thing.avery_johnson_vmedwidec

Jeff Van Gundy:

His name seems to come up for almost every open head coaching position. He appears to be happy doing the color commentator gig but like his associate Mark Jackson, there is an itch with these guys that have that competitive spirit. Plus, let me know when the money for being a color commentator is the same as a head coach. Van Gundy likely will not be the next coach for the Wolves but he’d be a great hire.
Now after all these possible targets, there could be other names that jump in the fold. I wouldn’t be surprised at this point but I will say I hope some of the assistants from the last few years are retained. J.B. Bickerstaff who is the same age as plenty of NBA players and son of Bernie Bickerstaff, has been on the Wolves coaching staff the last few years.

He’s got a future in this league as a head coach and I hope he is kept on considering his relationship with players. Jerry Sichting, the top assistant last year, should be given a look to stay on as well. Dean Cooper and Ed Pinckney were newer assistants for the Wolves but I would not be disappointed to see them stick around either. Cooper was the “defensive” coach but as we know, the Wolves weren’t necessarily well equipped in that department.

Despite Ten Wins, Kevin Slowey Still Not an Ace

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By Shaymus McLaughlin

There are only two pitchers with ten wins in the major leagues. Unsurprisingly, one is Roy Halladay, the all-star caliber Blue Jays pitcher whose 2.53 ERA, 88 strikeouts, and 1.04 WHIP are all within close proximity to the league leader in those categories. It makes perfect sense that he has accumulated ten wins already this season.

The other one actually shocked me. As I was catching up on the Twins game against the Astros last Friday, I noticed an odd piece of information: Kevin Slowey had just become the baseball’s second ten-game winner.

Um, what?

Slowey is a good pitcher, without a doubt, but really? 10 wins? I’ve watched him pitch a number of times this year, and although I’m never disappointed in what I see, I’m rarely in awe like I am when watching his ten-win counterpart Halladay pitch. I had no idea he was actually pitching that well.

After the game, plenty of credit was given to Slowey on the internet and nightly sports recap shows for having hit the win mark so quickly. And rightfully so. 10 wins and only 2 losses in a measly 14 starts is very good. But how the heck did he do it? Slowey has never been seen as the potential ace of the Twins’ young staff. That moniker has been given to Francisco Liriano pre-injury and Scott Baker after his stellar conclusion to last year, but people have never talked about Slowey as a great pitcher until now. And frankly, despite his 10 wins, calling Kevin Slowey a great pitcher at this point seems premature. Just look at the numbers.

His statistics are respectable, but outside of the abnormally high win total, they look simply decent. Currently, he sports a 4.04 ERA, which doesn’t even match the likes of Randy Wolf (3.29), Aaron Harang (3.66) or Matt “We seriously got this guy for Delmon Young” Garza (3.83). It’s solid, but it’s not even good enough to crack the 25 best starting pitchers.

This guy has a better ERA than Kevin Slowey

His 1.37 WHIP places him on the same level as his ERA: It’s not embarrassing, but not elite by any means. Once again he’s outside the top-25. He’s a stunning 8-0 at home, compared to 2-2 on the road, but it’s not because he’s pitching any better. His ERA at home (4.07) is actually 8 points higher than on the road (3.99). Slowey’s numbers against lefties (37.1 IP, 36 K, 12 BB, 1.82 WHIP and a .348 BAA) are below-average at best, but he manages to balance it with his solid pitching against righties (47.1 IP, 31 K, 2 BB, 1.01 WHIP, .260 BAA).

So how has he managed to scrape together a league-leading 10 wins?

It’s simple. He’s gotten lucky.

To start, he’s had to pitch on the road only five times this season. As evidenced above, location doesn’t seem to affect the way he pitches, but it does change the way the offense performs. The offense bats only .264 on the road and scores an average of 4.09 runs per game. If we discount the anomaly that was the 20-run outburst at Chicago, their run production drops to 3.58 runs per game. At home, the offense spikes significantly. The team hits at a .280 clip and provides an average of 5.38 runs. Since Slowey has been able to pitch at home in nine of his starts, he’s generally received better offensive production than his staff counterparts.

Consequently, the run support for Slowey has been much better than it has for any of the other starters. The offense generates an average of 5.5 runs per game when Slowey starts the ball game. Conversely, Nick Blackburn, whose 3.09 ERA leads the Twins, is given only an average of 4.23 runs per game (discounting the fluke 20-1 White Sox win once again), and has only won 6 games as a result. Perkins (5.22 runs/game), Baker (5.0 r/g) and Liriano (a shockingly low 3.64 r/g) also receive less run support from the Twins’ offense than Slowey does.

Most importantly, Slowey seems to be immune to the disease known as TBS (Twins’ Bullpen Syndrome), in which leads hemorrhage away and once-healthy games turn into rotting, losses. Slowey has only two no-decisions this year, and only one in which he left the game with a lead, only to watch the Twins’ bullpen blow the game (an 8-6 loss to Toronto). In every other game, the bullpen has managed to uphold the lead that Slowey exited with. Compare this to Blackburn, who has seen six games in which he exited with a lead or tie, only to be let down by those same relief pitchers.

Even Twins bat boys are not safe from TBS

This is not meant to discredit Kevin Slowey. He’s pitched some wonderful games for the Twins this season, and clearly has the ability to be an effective starting pitcher for years to come. He just isn’t quite the ten-win ace that Roy Halladay is.

At least yet.