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Is Kevin Correia's performance just smoke and mirrors?

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There can be plenty of surprises at the beginning of a season.

The Twins find themselves around the .500 mark and most fans would likely be happy if the club was able to keep up this pace for the remainder of the season. It might not be likely but stranger things have happened in the world of baseball.

One of the most intriguing players so far this year has been Kevin Correia. He has surprised most Twins fans with his performances on the mound. Of the members in the Twins starting rotation, he has been the most consistent. He has thrown seven innings or more and allowed three runs or fewer in each start.

Correia became the first Twins pitcher to throw at least seven innings in his first four starts to lead off a year since Ramon Ortiz did it in 2007. Oritz went on to compile a 4-4 record and a 5.14 ERA before the team dumped him on the Rockies in mid-August for Matt Macri. It is important to take into account the wonders of small sample size at the beginning of the year.

When the Twins signed Correia this off-season, there were many people in the industry who scoffed at the contract he was given. Minnesota is paying Correia $10 million over the next two years. That is a decent chunk of change for a man without that great a track record. His career ERA of 4.54 and a WHIP of 1.41 in the National League seemed hardly worth $5 million a year but that is what Minnesota is paying him.

Correia's first impression with the Twins wasn't great. He scuffled in spring training and posted some terrible numbers. His ERA was 5.40 and his 1.68 WHIP was tough to stomach. He gave up more than a hit an inning and he struck out only eight men over 25 innings. Twins Territory was bracing for the worst.
This led most Twins fans to wonder why the team had offered a player like this a two-year deal. But luckily for Twins fans, spring training statistics usually don't matter. Correia has looked great so far but it's hard to know if he will be able to keep up this pace.

The lowest ERA he has posted in a season was 3.45 back in 2007 with the San Francisco Giants. He made only eight starts that season. Since becoming a full time starter, he has only one season with sub-4.00 ERA. He was a Padres pitcher that season and over half of his starts came at the pitcher-friendly Petco Park.

In recent years, the Twins witnessed the turn-around of Carl Pavano, another veteran pitcher with a poor track record. Pavano's flaws had been mostly related to injuries so he was able to put up solid middle of the rotation numbers when he was healthy.

Correia's connection to Pavano isn't exactly perfect because Correia didn't fight a lot of injuries before joining the Twins. He has pitched at least 145 innings a year since 2009 and that includes a minimum of 26 starts in those seasons. Over that stretch, he averaged 167 innings per season and that would have ranked second on last year's Twins behind Scott Diamond.

If a person is taking bets on Correia, it might be time to sell your stock while it is still high. It seem like he has nowhere to go but down. His track record shows that he will most likely come back down to earth at some point this season. For now, fans can relish the solid performances he is putting forth on a team that continues to surprise.

Comments

  1. Willihammer's Avatar
    One thing that us skeptics have yet to hear from the pro-FO crowd, is exactly what KC might have changed that would give cause to expect KC's future results to be better than his past results. Maybe this is something Parker could look at, if he reads this. I for one would be very interested.

    Certainly in his first few starts, I've been impressed with his command. With the exception of a handful of cutters, its been impeccable. But he's historically pitched best in March and April. Maybe as the weather gets muggy, he gets fatigued and starts leaving balls up. Maybe he goes through a dead-arm period every August where he drops his arm slot and gets wild.

    I'm certainly rooting for continued success from him but until someone shares a concrete observation about a permanent change to his approach, I'm not going to hold my breath.
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