Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bannister pitches lights out, and other bad puns

-- Lights still out in Twins' offense
-- Bannister lights-out in Royals win
-- Teahen's 4-for-4 night powers Royals in light-out
-- Lights-out pitching propels Royals over Twins
-- Royals, Twins play Lights Out
-- With the lights out, Twins less dangerous

Ed Zurga/AP

Maybe -- just maybe -- it's safe to say Brian Bannister is for real. He has three wins in his last four starts and hasn't allowed more than four runs in a game since June 23. Check out his game log if you don't believe me. He's made 18 starts and has gone into the 5th inning in all but two of them -- on April 24 and May 4. Suffice to say, with a Rookie of the Month award in June, he's learned a few things since then.

After last night's seven-inning, six-hit and one-run performance -- the Royals won 5-1, and as you may have heard, the lights temporarily malfunctioned in the 8th -- Bannister lowered his ERA to 3.32, which puts him at No. 10 in the AL, ahead of the likes of Chien-Ming Wang, C.C. Sabathia and Justin Verlander. His WHIP of 1.15 ranks No. 8 in the league.

By now, the league knows there's nothing overpowering about Bannister, but that he's still able to get hitters out -- his last start was also against the Twins, in which he went seven and gave up three in a 5-3 win -- speaks volumes for his pitching acumen. He relies on three and a half pitches -- two variations of the fastball, a straight one that hits the low-90s and a cutter that tops out in the high-80s, and a decent curveball/slider -- and while nothing will make your heart flutter, we all know it's not how hard you throw it, it's where, and with what consistency. To date, Bannister's command has been excellent, having issued only 29 walks in 114 innings (his walks/9 inn. of 2.29 leads the team). The strikeout total of 58 is low, but his K-to-BB ratio of 2.0 ranks second on the team, behind Gil Meche. So far, the only thing the Royals miss about flame-throwin' Ambiorix Burgos -- sent to the Mets by Dayton Moore for Bannister -- is the name Ambiorix (AM-BI-OR-IX). I'll take the production over the potential any day.

POSTSCRIPT: B*nds: they're not saying boo, they're... oh wait, yes they are.

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