Welcome to the Thursday edition of The Cooler, where the weather forecast for the State Fair is the best news of the year. Let’s get to it:
*Twins starting pitchers have had a lot of outings recently that were either too brief, ineffective or both. Jake Odorizzi’s five-inning effort Wednesday in a 4-0 loss to the White Sox (eight hits, four runs, three earned) was the latest example.
But complaining too much about the starting pitching – or the overall staff, for that matter – is indicative of focusing too much on recent events. Overall, the Twins through Wednesday have the ninth-best ERA in MLB (4.15), while their bullpen is a (perhaps surprising) No. 12 in baseball despite all the angst.
For an even more amazing level of fan angst and recency bias, though, look directly at the Twins’ biggest rival in the race for the AL Central division title.
Cleveland has the third-best overall ERA in the majors and holds the very best bullpen ERA of any team. Lately, though, the sailing hasn’t been quite a smooth — particularly for closer Brad Hand.
Hand has given up seven runs in his last four outings and blown three consecutive save chances — the latest coming Wednesday when Carlos Santana (again) gave the Indians a 3-2 lead in the 10th inning with a clutch home run before the Mets rallied for two in the bottom half in a walk-off win that kept the Twins’ lead at three games.
Hand, the Chaska native who has turned into one of baseball’s top relievers, had a 1.05 ERA in his first 35 outings — but he has an 8.10 ERA in his last 18 appearances spanning the last couple months. That’s certainly cringe-worthy, but overall his ERA is still a respectable 3.35 (better than Cleveland’s league-leading team bullpen ERA of 3.44).
But when the top reliever in the best bullpen struggles, things get ugly on social media.
Hand has seven outings in which he recorded four outs or more, and it’s possible a lot of high-leverage innings are taking their toll. Or this could just be a rough stretch that he will work through. I’m sure a lot of Cleveland fans are giving great consideration to the latter possibility.
*The Tigers — next up at Target Field on Friday — have been awful this season and almost surely will lose well in excess of 100 games. But they beat Justin Verlander and the Astros on Wednesday in the largest betting upset in the majors in the last 15 years. The Tigers were +435 underdogs, meaning you only had to wager $100 to win $435.
*The Packers and Raiders are playing Thursday night in Winnipeg, something I still don’t understand. What I do know for sure: Winnipeg is in the province of Manitoba.