When the Minnesota Twins sent down Scott Diamond to Triple-A last week, it was a foregone conclusion that the team would call up left-hander Andrew Albers to take Diamond’s spot in the rotation. Albers certainly earned his promotion as he posted a 11-5 record with a 2.86 ERA, 1.179 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9 and a 3.63 SO/BB over 132.1 innings in 22 starts this season, but what can fans expect to see when Albers makes his debut?
Some fans may be jaded about what to expect from Albers based on the disappointing performances from one of the team’s top pitching prospects, Kyle Gibson, so far this season, but Albers may be able to fair better than his former counterpart in 2013. A scouting report from 2010 stated that Albers throws a high-80s mph fastball, an above-average changeup, an average slider and a big, looping curveball. Those characteristics do not indicate that Albers is an overpowering strikeout pitcher and instead that he is a command pitcher who works around the plate. In my opinion, Albers is cut from a similar cloth that Diamond was and hopefully, the Twins can get the type of performances they got out of Diamond in 2012 from Albers in 2013. Albers’ velocity is now believed to be around 85 mph, which isn’t very high, so he must rely on his command to keep hitters off balance and be effective during his stint in the majors.
I haven’t seen Albers pitch, but from all of the reports I have seen, I can’t say that I am overly optimistic about his chances for success in the majors. There have been pitchers who have made a living only throwing in the mid-80s with their fastball, but the numbers aren’t particularly high as of late especially with the Twins. In addition, Albers is only being called up now which, to me, sends up some red flags if you look at it from an organizational perspective. The reason I believe this is because if you look at the Twins’ rotation this season, it has been abysmal almost all year. Because of this, the team has demoted some struggling pitchers in favor of pitchers at the Triple-A level. The list of pitchers the team has promoted before they chose to bring up Albers includes P.J. Walters, Samuel Deduno, Pedro Hernandez and Gibson. Deduno has stuck in the majors and Gibson has been inconsistent, but Walters and Hernandez have not found consistent success in the big-leagues and thus have been returned to the minors. Albers has been having a strong season all year; if the Twins truly believed that Albers could get it done, why did they wait until now to call him up?
The way I read into this, the Twins perceived Albers as the fifth best option in the minors and now are turning to him as the next best option. Albers certainly could have flown under the radar and the team may have been waiting to see if he would ever cool off this season, but I’m not very confident in that premise. While I am not trying to knock Albers and say that he is an awful pitcher and is merely the next pitcher in a long line of losers; instead, I am saying that it is concerning that the Twins have waited so long to promote Albers after having such a strong season so far in 2013. Would the team have done the same if Gibson had been posting the same numbers or Alex Meyer or Trevor May? I believe the answer to that is no.
Albers has the chance to be successful in the majors and he very well could be a major upgrade from Diamond or any of the other starters that have come through the rotation this season, but I am going to caution that fan’s temper their expectations until Albers has a few starts under his belt. At any rate, it should be fun to see what Albers has to offer when he makes his big-league debut on Tuesday and I wish him nothing but the best of luck!