The final lines for Kevin Correia in all three of his starts have looked very similar: at least seven innings in all three, either 2 or 3 earned runs allowed, and about one hit for every inning pitched. He had either 12 or 13 fly ball outs in all the starts.
Among the minor differences: Last night was the first time he allowed the ball to leave the park (giving up two homers, the only two runs allowed to the Angels). He might have had his best overall "stuff," though, as evidenced by five strikeouts last night -- after just three combined in his first two starts.
Perhaps the most notable similarity, though, comes in the form of a number that has been precisely the same in all three starts: 1.
That's the number of walks the Twins' free agent signee has allowed in each game.
In his first three years working primarily as a starter from 2008-10, Correia averaged 3.5 walks per nine innings and 6.4 strikeouts. He gave up 9.7 hits per nine innings pitched, which isn't terrible, but those walks lifted him to a WHIP of 1.46 -- almost exactly the same as Nick Blackburn's career WHIP of 1.47.
In his last two seasons with the Pirates (2011-12, including an All-Star appearance that first year), Correia was a different pitcher. He dipped down to 4.6 strikeouts per nine innings ... but his walks also went waaaay down to 2.4 per nine innings. His hits allowed per nine innings stayed exactly the same at 9.7, but his WHIP dropped to 1.34 because of the decrease in walks. Taking one baserunner per nine innings out of the equation, Correia essentially became "Good Blackburn." Nick had a 1.36 WHIP in 2008-09 when he was 11-11 both seasons with nearly 200 IP on average. The past two seasons Correia was 12-11 both years.
We mention Blackburn for two reasons: one, because the numbers are so similar and two because Correia was essentially signed because Blackburn has failed to maintain that perfectly acceptable middle-to-bottom of the rotation pace.
Correia will not throw quality starts in every game this season. If he ends up being the Twins' best starter this season, it will almost guarantee the Twins have a losing record. But through three games, at least, he has continued a downward trajectory with his walks allowed. If he has found his sweet spot as a pitch-to-contact guy on a pitch-to-contact team, this could end up being a much happier marriage than most fans anticipated upon his signing.