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10/02/06 12:45 AM ET

Twins-A's: Rotation analysis

  Oakland Athletics

 Barry Zito LHP
GAME 1 STARTER: The three-time All-Star has usually been a much better pitcher in the second half of the season, but not this year, as his post-break ERA was nearly 1.50 runs per game higher than it was before the Midsummer Classic. Zito blamed the blip on a "mechanical lull" in his delivery and made adjustments in his most recent start to correct the problem. This is the sixth consecutive season that the lefty has worked at least 200 innings, and he is 3-2 with a 2.76 ERA in five career postseason starts.
Season numbers: (16-10, 3.83 ERA)
Pitches: Two- and four-seam fastballs, cut fastball, curve, slider, changeup
Speed: 85-89 mph

 Esteban Loaiza RHP
GAME 2 STARTER: Loaiza has some velocity issues early in the season and the Athletics were concerned he might be seriously hurt. He was 0-3 with an 8.35 ERA in his first four starts, including a 6-5 loss to the Twins in which he gave up six runs in four innings. He missed all of May with a back and shoulder strain, then came back strong in June, going 3-1 with a 4.91 ERA in four starts. He picked it up even more in the second half, going 8-4 with a 4.01 ERA in 16 starts. On the season he was 7-3 with a 3.71 ERA at home and 4-6 with a 6.08 on the road. He is 10-9 with a 4.00 ERA in his career against the Twins but 3-7 with a 5.66 ERA in 12 games, including 11 starts, at the Metrodome.
Season numbers: (11-9, 4.89 ERA)
Pitches: Fastball, cut fastball, slider changeup
Speed: 90-93 mph
 Dan Haren RHP
GAME 3 STARTER: The staff leader in strikeouts, batting average against and strikeout-to-walks ratio, Haren has an above-average fastball, and he knows how to use it. But what really makes Haren stand out is a split-finger fastball that, when working, is comparable to that of former Houston Cy Young Award winner Mike Scott. Haren proved that he is a gamer two years ago, when the then-24-year-old pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against Boston for St. Louis in the World Series.
Season numbers: (14-13, 4.12 ERA)
Pitches: Fastball, splitter, slider, changeup
Speed: 92-97 mph

 Rich Harden RHP
Having a well-rested power pitcher of Harden's caliber would provide a huge boost to Oakland's chances. The hard-throwing right-hander returned in mid-September after being on the disabled list since June 4 because of a sprained ligament in his right elbow. Before that, Harden was slowed by back problems. The early indications are that other than a little rust, Harden is at last healthy and ready to fire his high-90s fastball and splitter.
Season numbers: (4-0, 4.24 ERA)
Pitches: Fastball, split-finger fastball, changeup
Speed: 88-97 mph

  Minnesota Twins

 Johan Santana LHP
GAME 1 STARTER: He's already won one Cy Young Award, and if there's any justice, it will be two after this year. His fastball is in the mid-90s and his slider is tough, but his changeup can absolutely befuddle hitters. Part of the Twins' formula for a victory in this series, and it's not far-fetched, would be two starts and two victories from this pitcher.
Season numbers: (19-6, 2.77 ERA)
Pitches: Fastball, slider, changeup
Speed: 70-96 mph

 Boof Bonser RHP
GAME 2 STARTER: Bonser has the stuff, but not the experience. His fastball peaks at 93 mph, and he also has a curveball and a changeup. His potential is great, but this will be new territory for him.
Season numbers: (7-6, 4.22 ERA)
Pitches: Fastball, curveball, changeup
Speed: 80-93 mph

 Matt Garza RHP
Another young Twins hurler with a world of potential, but a minimum of experience. He has a mid-90s fastball, a slider, a curveball and a changeup. He may lead the available staff in raw potential.
Season numbers: (3-6, 5.76 ERA)
Pitches: Fastball, slider, curveball, changeup
Speed: 80-95 mph

 Brad Radke RHP

Can Radke pitch on guts and guile with a stress fracture in his shoulder? He did for five innings with no earned runs against Kansas City in the last series of the regular season. His fastball can no longer get above the high 80s, but he has always had an effective curveball and a changeup. His very presence on the mound could be an inspiration for the Twins. The other option is Carlos Silva, who had what could generously be described as a down year. He's a sinker, slider, changeup pitcher with velocity in the low 90s, but he was a home run waiting to happen for too much of this season.

Season numbers: (12-9, 4.32 ERA)
Pitches: Fastball, curveball, changeup
Speed: 80-88 mph

Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.