Ervin Santana tossed his second complete-game shutout of the season Tuesday against Baltimore, improving to 7-2 with a 1.80 ERA in the process. He has given up only 31 hits in 70 innings. How in the world is Santana doing it? Here are three possible explanations:
• According to Brooks Baseball, Santana is getting more vertical movement on his pitches than in past seasons. The biggest differences are with his changeup and slider, which are moving an inch or two more on the vertical plane than they have during Santana's career. That might not sound like much, but even subtle vertical movement makes it harder for hitters to make hard contact.
• Parker Hageman notes that Santana is working inside with his fastball far more this year (and last year) than he did in 2015.
• The Twins defense has been excellent in terms of making routine plays and saving runs. Santana surely has benefited.
Read Michael Rand's blog at startribune.com/randball. firstname.lastname@example.org