Carl Pavano loses to Royals, but defeats garbage can

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Francisco Liriano’s struggles are more extreme and have gotten more attention during the Twins’ awful first month, but Carl Pavano has been plenty terrible himself with a 5.84 ERA through six starts.

More worrisome than the bloated ERA is that Pavano’s strikeout rate continues to plummet, dropping from 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 2009 after the Twins acquired him at midseason to 4.8 per nine innings last year and now 4.1 per nine innings this season.

For some context, his rotation-mate Nick Blackburn’s career rate of 4.3 strikeouts per nine innings is dead last among all active MLB pitchers with 500 innings. Pavano, like Blackburn, doesn’t induce enough ground balls to thrive with that few missed bats, particularly with a shoddy defense behind them.

As a pitching staff the Twins have managed just 5.8 strikeouts per nine innings, which is dead last in MLB. Lots of contact plus sub par defense equals runs in bunches. And speaking of lots of contact … Pavano lost to the Royals yesterday, but at least he defeated a trash can in the dugout:

Yankees, Mariners expressing interest in J.A. Happ

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Yankees and Mariners are both expressing interest in Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ.

Happ is posting a 3.48 ERA and a 94/25 K/BB ratio in 82.2 innings across 14 starts and has been stingy with the hits as well. Between that, the Blue Jays’ lack of contention and the fact that Happ is in the walk year of his three-year, $36 million deal, all signs point to the Jays trading them.

In normal circumstances you might not expect the Jays to make a trade with the Yankees, but at this point it sort of doesn’t matter, does it? It’s not like Happ in New York on a couple month rental will impact the 2018 Jays too much. And, given his pending free agency, it’s not extraordinarily likely that he’d haunt the Jays from the Bronx long term either.

There’s not a ton of elite pitching currently available, but as the trade deadline approaches — a little over a month to go on that score — the talk about Happ, Cole Hamels, Francisco Liriano and others will heat up. Figure the Yankees will be linked with any and all available starters.