The issues the Minnesota Twins have had in their starting rotation this season have been readily visible and well documented, and thus has given a lot of pitchers that otherwise would not have gotten the opportunity the chance to pitch in the big leagues. One such pitcher is Cole De Vries, who has the added aspects of being a Minnesota native and University of Minnesota graduate.
After making his major league debut in late May, De Vries was not particularly impressive over his first 13 appearances (12 starts), posting a 5.04 ERA with 69 hits allowed in 64.1 innings pitched. His underlying numbers were also not outstanding despite excellent control (14 walks), with just 45 strikeouts and 16 home runs allowed in that span.
But something appears to have clicked for De Vries as he has allowed two runs or less in each of his last four starts, including pitching six shutout innings in his most recent start on Saturday night against the Cleveland Indians. He is now 3-1 with a 1.54 ERA in that span, over 23.1 innings pitched. He may have lasted longer on Saturday night if not for taking a hard line drive in the ribcage area, but he is expected to be fine for his next start at this point. It’s worth mentioning the level of competition De Vries has faced, including the Kansas City Royals in his start prior to Saturday, but his recent performance is still noteworthy as the Twins try to find starting rotation candidates for the future.
De Vries will never be confused with pitchers around baseball who have lights-out stuff, and at age 27 he will not suddenly become an elite strikeout pitcher, but there is something to be said for having good control and simply having a feel for the intangibles of how to be effective at the big league level. A lot may hinge on his continued good performance as the season winds down, but at this point De Vries deserves a chance to at least compete for a starting rotation spot heading into 2013. Especially since the Twins have essentially handed such spots to pitchers far less deserving coming out of spring training in the recent past.