Minnesota Twins Setup Man Jared Burton Scuffling Through June

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

With a 2.05/.0.82 ERA/WHIP, a 12.62 K/9 and a .168 BAA, one of the problems that these 36-42 Minnesota Twins certain don’t have in 2013 is in the ninth inning spot, as Glen Perkins has been simply one of the best in the league at closing things out in his first full season on the job.

Getting the ball to him, however, has been more challenging than anticipated.

Normally, that wouldn’t be the case as the Twins could simply hand the ball over to setup man Jared Burton, and let his stuff do the rest — to a tune of a 0.96/0.75 ERA/WHIP and .161 BAA through his first 10 outings of the season, with five holds to go along with it. If Perkins was option no. 1, Burton was no. 1A.

That plan simply hasn’t worked over the last month, that’s all. Including Sunday’s blown tie (en route to an eventual 9-8 loss to the Kansas City Royals) thanks to a second-pitch home run allowed to David Lough in hthe eighth inning, Burton has now allowed runs in four of his last 10 outings, with a uncharacteristically poor 7.45/2.07 ERA/WHIP through those 9.2 innings of work.

Now, his .326 BAA should be enough to suggest that he’s being hit around pretty good already, but what’s really gotten him in trouble in his recent outings are his generous ways.

With six walks (all taking place in separate outings) through the month of June, the righty now finds himself with an unsightly 4.08 BB/9 on the season thanks for the 5.59 he carried through the last month. Considering that he had a sparkling 1.93 mark in April to go along with a 6.00 K/BB, and you could easily see how his troubles have been exacerbated.

Fortunately for the Twins, however, it’s unlikely that this shaky bridge act from their setup man will last for very long.

Given that the most significant outlier from his batted ball profile over the last month has been his HR/FB rate at 18.2 percent thanks to the pair of home runs he’s allowed, that he’s still generating ground balls and line drives at basically the same rate as he was in April (48.6 percent and 20 percent respectively) just doesn’t quite match up with his .353 BABIP.

Which is to say that if Burton was a bit lucky with a .263 BABIP and 88.9 percent strand rate in April, then June has been a month of revenge from the baseball gods as he’s stranding just 64 percent of baserunners.

Yes, he’s certainly got to help himself first by cutting the walks, but waiting for his luck to change might just be the hardest part.

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