Garza's Big Start
I'm not going to say that I saw this coming, because I didn't. I thought that Slowey had the potential to be solid once he was called up. At the same time, I didn't expect him to be dominant -- a 4.50 ERA would have been more than enough for me to be satisfied. Unfortunatley, Slowey has taken to giving up homeruns at a pace that would make Boof Bonser blush (12 homers in 36.1 innings, as of the 3rd inning of today's game, for Slowey -- 14 homers in 96.1 innings this season for Bonser). The reasons for those homeruns vary quite a bit -- sliders that don't slide, or worse, slide right into the middle of the zone and overconfidence in a fastball that seems to be a bit above average but isn't going to make anyone forget Roger Clemens being the two most notable.
So, with this in mind, it's probably not too difficult to see where I'm going with the title to this post. Matt Garza will get a chance to start a game in the Major Leagues for the first time this season when he takes the mound against the White Sox tomorrow, and he has a truly golden opportunity. Unless Garza goes out on the mound and either (1) throws 60 pitches in 2 innings because he's nibbling with his curve, or (2) shakes off Joe Mauer everytime he asks for a changeup, Garza is almost certainly going to be given a shot after the All-Star break to fill Slowey's spot in the rotation. After all, the alternatives are either to continue sending Slowey to the mound to give up gopher balls, or to restore Ramon Ortiz to a place in the rotation. Frankly, I don't see the Twins doing either unless they simply have no other choice.
This is not the end of the world for Slowey. The coaching staff has now seen what he can do (and what he can't, which is more important right now), where he tends to make mistakes, and how he responds to big league pressure. That means that they can give very specific instructions to the folks down in Rochester regarding what Slowey needs to work on from now until the end of the season (or until his next callup). That process can only make Slowey a better player, and hopefully he'll embrace it.
The Twins should actually make a move tonight to send Slowey to AAA in time for tomorrow's double-header, where an extra body (Garrett Jones or Matt Tolbert if the Twins want a position player, Carmen Cali if they want an extra arm) would be welcome and useful. If they do, Garza's start won't be quite as big for him, because he'll be virtually guaranteed a rotation spot after the break. It will, however, be just as big for we fans, because it will provide a good indication of whether or not the Twins will have a chance to be competitive down the stretch. Either way, tomorrow should be very interesting.
UPDATE: The Twins have done the smart thing and sent Slowey back to AAA, calling up Carmen Cali to give them an extra arm during the White Sox series. We'll see what the Twins do coming out of the break, but for now this was the right move. If only they'd sent Luis Rodriguez down with Slowey and called up Matt Tolbert.
Labels: Starting Rotation