P.J. Walters is not Justin Verlander, he is not Brad Radke and he is not even newly drafted Minnesota Twins’ right-hander Kohl Stewart; all Walters is—and always will be—is himself. Walters is an example of what hard work, patience and the ability to handle adversity can do to a person and their career. On Tuesday night, Walters was stellar yet again holding the Philadelphia Phillies to six hits and two runs—one earned—while striking out five batters and leading the Twins to a 3-2 victory.
Since his promotion to the majors this season, Walters has gone at least six innings in each of his four starts and has garnered three quality starts during those four starts. For the season, Walters is sporting a 2-1 record with a 2.49 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and an opponent’s batting average of .298. While those stats may not be overwhelming or overly impressive, they represent what Walters is and has made a living out of during his career: being average.
Sometimes being average is not bad and for the Twins’ pitching staff over the last few seasons, average is highly desirable and quite rare. Walters does not feature a high 90s fastball or a knee buckling curve ball, but what he does feature is a mental toughness and pitching approach that is reliable and good enough to keep teams in ballgames until the ball is turned over to the bullpen. His outings may not be the most pretty outings and he may surrender a ton of hits; but at the end of the day, Walters continues to battle and get the Twins tough outs when they need them most while consistently going a minimum of six innings a start and taking innings off a tired bullpen.
Many would characterize Walters’ ability and performances as average and some may even say they are above average if you consider what other options the Twins have; but no matter what, average is not necessarily a bad thing. If the Twins could get an “average” appearance—five to six innings with three or four runs surrendered—every night out, they would be thrilled and would put themselves in a great position to contend because of their solid bullpen and potentially productive offense; unfortunately, that isn’t always possible.
Fortunately for the Twins, Walters is continuing to pitch well right now and is doing so without a hefty contract. He is exactly the type of veteran pitcher that this young team needs and hopefully, he can remain healthy enough to stick with the team for the entire season in 2013. Walters was off to a strong start and demonstrated these same type of characteristics in 2012, but injuries derailed his season and ended it prematurely while Walters was fighting to establish himself as part of the Twins’ future. Although Walters was not renewed initially by the Twins and was allowed to test free-agency, he chose to come back to the Twins and the Twins are fortunate to have him.
Walters’ career may have not taken the path he had wanted it to up to this point, but he is making the most out of what he has been given whether it be his talents or his opportunities. Legendary basketball coach John Wooden said it best when he stated that, “Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.” Walters has embodied that quote during his tenure with the Twins and hopefully for the team and Walters, things will continue to trend upward.