NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia, Carl Pavano, Justin Verlander, David Price, John Lester. Tell me which name doesn't belong on this list.
If you said Carl Pavano, you normally wouldn't get much of an argument, at least until this season. The Twins right-hander, however, ranks among the top five in wins in the American League this year along with the four previously mentioned pitchers.
Pavano may be best known for the very disappointing four years he spent with the New York Yankees after signing as a free agent for $39.95 million dollars in December of 2004. His career in New York was highlighted by injuries and controversy. He started just 26 games, compiling a 9-8 record with a 4.99 ERA.
After his contract expired with the Yankees, Pavano signed a one-year deal with the Indians for 2009 in hopes of resurrecting his career. He ended up spending only part of the season with Cleveland, as he was dealt to the Twins in August. He combined to go 14-12 with both teams, and actually started the third game of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. Following the season, Pavano filed for free agency, but later accepted the Twins' offer of salary arbitration, which resulted in a $7 million dollar deal for 2010.
Some observers might have thought that was too high a price for a pitcher who was two games over .500 last season with a history of arm problems, but right now it's turning out to be a steal for the Twins.
Minnesota might not be in the playoff hunt if not for the season Pavano has had so far. His 12 wins (versus only 6 losses) ranks him third in the American League, and he's number two in complete games (5) and WHIP (1.01), and at the moment he's one of the hottest pitchers in baseball, having won seven straight decisions.
Impeccable control has been a big part of his success, and even more so during his current winning streak. He's walked just 19 batters in 143 2/3 innings and issued only five walks during his run.
It's been a long road back since having Tommy John surgery in 2007, but he was always confident he could get to this point.
"I felt like I could do it, but putting that movement into action is a totally different thing," said Pavano. "It's been a while since I've seen the action that I'm seeing right now on my pitches, and to be able to locate the ball in and out, down in the zone with angle, and a little sharper than they've been in the past."
The Twins will need Pavano to stay sharp for the rest of the season if they hope to be playing in October for a second straight year.
Ubaldo Jimenez and the Colorado Rockies are fading fast. He gave up six runs and six walks in his last outing Saturday, marking the third time in his last six starts he's given up at least six runs. His ERA over that span is a whopping 7.63. The Rockies now find themselves 7 1/2 games back of the first place Padres in the West.
Two talented young arms in that very same division continue to give a big boost to their respective teams. Mat Latos won his first start off the DL Saturday to improve his record to 11-4. San Diego's 22-year old righty has allowed more than two earned runs only once over his last fourteen starts. Meanwhile, Madison Bumgarner, the Giants' 20-year old southpaw picked up his fourth straight win with a seven inning, two-run performance in Arizona. The rookie's ERA during the winning streak is a minuscule 1.33.
Joba Chamberlain may soon force Yankees' manager Joe Girardi to remove him from his setup role for Mariano Rivera. The struggling Chamberlain gave up a two-run homer to Scott Podsednik Sunday and saw his ERA for July to balloon to 8.10.