The Minnesota Twins have again struggled to find solid starting pitching this season, but some reshuffling was done earlier this month when Scott Diamond was demoted to Triple-A and another Canadian left-hander, Andrew Albers, was promoted to take his place.
Albers went 11-5 with a 2.86 ERA in 22 starts (132.1 innings), including three complete games, at Triple-A Rochester this season prior to making his major league debut against the Kansas City Royals on the road on Aug. 6. He looked very good in that outing, allowing four hits with two strikeouts and one walk over 8.1 shutout innings while throwing 109 pitches.
Albers did even better on Monday night against the Cleveland Indians, throwing a complete game shutout (102 pitches) while striking out two, walking none and allowing just two hits. With 17.1 shutout innings to start his career, can Albers continue to make a case for a spot in the Twins’ starting rotation next season?
Albers has just four strikeouts over his first two outings, and he does not bring overpowering velocity to the table, but he has used pinpoint location to help keep hitters off-balance and the Twins’ defense behind him has been top-notch. His minor league track record (7.7 K/9 rate and a 1.8 BB/9 rate over 395.2 innings) suggests more strikeouts could come without sacrificing command.
It’s foolish to expect Albers to sustain his performance over his first two outings long-term, or even over the rest of this season as opposing teams get advanced scouting on him, but the Twins should continue to give him an opportunity as long as he is healthy. He is not a likely ace, or the answer to Minnesota’s starting pitching woes on his own, but it would not surprise me to see Albers take a strong finish this year into spring training next year and earn a spot in the starting rotation.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.