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1. What kind of starter is Carl Pavano?

Isn't it nice when a player rebuilds his career? After several years struggling with the Yankees and Indians, Carl Pavano had his best season since 2004, going 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA for the Minnesota Twins. They've rewarded him with a two-year, $16.5 million contract. No doubt, as friend of SportsNation and head of the American Mustache Institute Aaron Perlut would say, it was all due to Pavano's 'stache. Is he for real as a starter?

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1. Who would you rather have: Gardenhire or Black?

Neither of their teams advanced in the playoffs, but both Ron Gardenhire and Bud Black have been deemed Managers of the Year for their respective leagues. Gardenhire had to make do without Justin Morneau for much of the season, while Black had to contend with an offense that featured Adrian Gonzalez ... and that's pretty much it. Which manager would you rather have?

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ALDS: SportsNation's burning questions for Rangers vs. Rays

Bobby (Texas)

While Tampa Bay stole the most bases in baseball, Rangers catchers were 26th in baseball at throwing out runners? How can Texas limit the Rays' running game?

ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett
Richard Durrett

That's one important storyline of this series. And we're actually working up a big blog post on that now. Manager Ron Washington said yesterday that keeping runners close is part of the pitcher's job, which of course it is. They'll be aware and make sure they do what they can to step off, throw over and mix things up to try to keep the runners from getting big leads. Full transcript

Game 2: SportsNation's burning questions for Twins vs. Yankees

Doug (New Rochelle, NY)

Do the Yankees even need 4 starters in round 1, or does it depend on the schedule?

Rob Neyer
Rob Neyer

No, they don't need four starters in the Division Series if Sabathia goes once on short rest. We'll see what Girardi does. Full transcript

Game 3: SportsNation's burning questions for Braves vs. Giants

Jerry (Elk Grove, CA)

Jerry, Can you remember a time when it was best for a team to leave their two highest paid, healthy, players off of the playoff roster? This year, should the Giants make it, there's no way they should include Zito and Rowand, not with Sanchez and Bumgarner stepping it up and with all of the other outfield choices they have.

Jerry Crasnick
Jerry Crasnick

Jerry, Zito is a strange case, because it's hard to see him coming out of the bullpen. I'm not sure who Bruce Bochy will take as his fourth guy after Lincecum, Cain and Sanchez. Aaron Rowand is one of the all-time great guys and competitors, but he barely plays these days. The Giants have such a glut of outfielders, I can't see where he fits in October. Full transcript

Game 4: SportsNation's burning questions for Phillies vs. Reds

Herbie (Cincinnati)

Joe. Is Brandon Phillips the best Reds 2nd Baseman since your tenure?

Joe Morgan
Joe Morgan

He's great. He makes unbelievable plays at second, and for a stretch there, he was the best Reds player I've seen in a long time. He got hit on the hand by a pitch and didn't get his offense back, but he says it's well now and he expects to play well. I would say yes, but there have been some good players there. Full transcript

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Jim Thome has 17 home runs, 44 RBIs and a robust .984 OPS for a team that leads the AL Central by four games in the middle of August. He checks in with 581 career home runs, ranking him behind just nine players in baseball history and ahead of names like Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle. But until Thome provided the walk-off heroics in his team's 7-6 win in 10 innings against the White Sox on Tuesday night, how many people were even aware he was with the Twins?

As it turns out, only about half of SportsNation.

Thome's zeitgeist fate seems to sum up the Twins. Fantastic new stadium, more wins at the moment than all but four teams in the majors and about as much attention as hits allowed by Kevin Slowey. But is this a team that could actually win the World Series? And can we get some stock tips from ESPN Chicago's Nostradamus-like Bruce Levine?

Peter (Twin Cities)

Have you heard anything on a timeline for Justin M. coming back, Sox get pretty lucky to avoid him twice and even though it has worked out so far he is missed.

ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine (before Tuesday's game)
Matt Williamson

Right now the Twins seem to be the hottest team in baseball. Ironically, Jim Thome has had some of the biggest hits for them over the past two weeks. I think they can live without Morneau for a short time. Full transcript

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Although it has felt at times this season as though no-hitters are popping up with the same frequency as, well, B.J. Upton popups (and involving the Rays almost as often), they are not everyday occurrences. One also wasn't a Sunday occurrence, perhaps thanks largely to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. But does Gardenhire deserve our scorn?

Twins starter Kevin Slowey had a no-hitter through seven innings against the Athletics, but the Twins had just a 1-0 lead through seven innings and a two-game lead through 117 games in the AL Central. With Slowey at 106 pitches and coming off elbow tendinitis, Gardenhire told him he was done after the seventh. Of course, the Twins then tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the seventh to make things a little more comfortable.

So what should Gardenhire have done?

jefftuttlesr

Pitch count, tendinitis, NO HITTER ar all fine BUT the TWINS just got back in control of FIRST PLACE and are in a hot pennant race with the ChiSox and THAT is what Gardenhire SHOULD'VE been focusing on and I think he was.

-- jefftuttlesr
stems21

This is an absolute joke. At least Kevin Slowey will have plenty more opportunites to pitch a no-hitter. Give me a break. If he's wearing down in the game, he'll give up a hit and then you can justify taking him out to the player, team, and fans. This guy was 6 outs away from a no-hitter, if he got lucky he could have gotten those 6 outs on 10-15 pitches.

-- stems21

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