Now that we are in mid June, we begin to look forward to the annual mid summer classic that comes next month. And we always wonder who will be playing from your favorite team. Lately, many Twins fans have begun to speculate that the Twins only representative in the MLB All Star Game will be OF Michael Cuddyer. And I am one of those fans. But, there is a dark horse player for the Twins. His name is Scott Baker.
You may recall, in my Twins 2011 post, I said Baker was a player that needed to step up and become the pitcher he is capable of being. And he has done just that for the Twins in 2011. In 14 starts this year, Baker has a 5-4 record with a 3.24 ERA. He also has a team high 88 strikeouts while pitching 91.2 innings (2nd behind Pavano). And don't forget about his team leading 1.167 WHIP. But perhaps the best stat you can read about Scott Baker is that he owns a 8.64 strikeout per 9 innings pitched average. That is good enough for second in the American League, behind Boston's Jon Lester (8.784).
Perhaps the best feature we are seeing from Scott Baker this year, behind the strikeout rates, is how far he is pitching into games. In his past five starts, Baker has pitched at least 6 innings, and four of those he has gone at least 7 innings. And out of his 14 starts, he has failed to pitch 6 innings just 3 times. And out of those starts, he has allowed 5 or more runs just once (May 11 vs DET, 4.1 IP 5 ER). Needless to say, you're getting a quality start every fifth day from Scott Baker.
And behind all these stats, there is a quiet confidence that comes when Baker now takes the hill. He is going to give you at least 6 innings, while allowing 2-4 runs and striking out 7-10 guys per start. And I will take that any day from a starter. He has been so impressive, I would even tab him as the staff ace right now. He has finally stepped up and is becoming that pitcher we thought we were going to see coming off a great 2008 season (11-4, 3.45 ERA). It took him a while, but he eventually got back there. And it could potentially lead him to his first All Star Selection.