Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios might be the best 1-2 punch the Twins have had in the starting rotation since Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano were dealing in 2006.
Eleven years ago it was the combination of Santana and Liriano that fueled a dominating second half of the season, including a stretch from June 7 to July 26 where they won 34 of 42 games. Santana won the Cy Young Award that season while Justin Morneau was the American League MVP and Joe Mauer won the batting title.
That team was awesome. The 2017 Twins are showing signs of being awesome.
"They’re not going away," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after the Twins swept the Orioles on Wednesday, via the Star Tribune. "If they continue to pitch, they’re going to be tough. That’s the team I thought they were going to be last year."
Best 1-2 punch since 2006
Liriano was a 22-year-old spark with the Twins in 2006, just like Berrios has been a 22-year-old spark since getting called up from Triple-A Rochester a couple of weeks ago.
In three starts, Berrios has pitched 21.2 innings while allowing just 8 hits, 4 runs, 4 walks and 22 strikeouts. And now he's lined up in the rotation behind Santana, giving the Twins a potentially dominating 1-2 punch.
Look how similar the first three starts of the season are for Berrios and Santana.
- Santana: 22 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, 5 walks, 15 strikeouts
- Berrios: 21.2 innings, 8 hits, 4 runs, 4 walks, 22 strikeouts
Santana leads the AL with a 1.80 ERA and he's allowed two hits or fewer in half of his 10 starts. Batters have a .134 average against Santana, the lowest for a pitcher through 10 starts since 1955, according to ESPN.
Opponents are hitting just .111 against Berrios so far.
The ride might not last, but Santana and Berrios have potential to be the 1-2 punch the Twins have been missing for more than a decade.
Twins top two starters since 2006 (based on stats)
- 2007: Johan Santana, Carlos Silva
- 2008: Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey
- 2009: Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker
- 2010: Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano
- 2011: Carl Pavano, Scott Baker
- 2012: Scott Diamond, Cole De Vries
- 2013: Kevin Correia, Sam Deduno
- 2014: Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson
- 2015: Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone
- 2016: Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson