After last night’s 12-inning disaster, in which the Twins lost their starter to injury in the second inning, then burned through two starting pitchers (one who had started the day before and the other who was scheduled to start tonight), Bill Smith finally decided it was a good idea to call up some pitching help. Matt Fox has been recalled and will make his major-league debut tonight, in place of Nick Blackburn, who pitched in the 12th. I don’t know much about Matt Fox, but here’s what Seth Stohs, who broke the news of his promotion, has to say:
We always want pitchers to come back quickly from Tommy John surgery. Matt Fox gives us an illustration of the need to be patient. Fox had the surgery early in 2005 and missed that season. He came back in 2006 with the E-Twins, in the bullpen. In 2007 and 2008, he began the seasons in the bullpen before being a starter in the second half. In 2009, Fox was a starter for the full season again. He made 26 starts and threw 151 innings, over 33 innings more than the previous season. Fox is a four-pitch pitcher. His fastball is clocked between 88-92 mph, nearly to the level he was at pre-surgery. He has a cut-fastball that he throws between 85-88 mph. He has a very good curveball and continues to work on a changeup. But the cutter and curveball are his big pitches.
Fox has a 3.95 ERA, 1.423 WHIP, and 2.04 K/BB ratio over 123 innings in Rochester. He’s seen a decline in his peripherals in every level of competition, but that isn’t unusual, particularly for finesse pitchers. He’ll probably be a 5th starter at best, but right now, with an injury-riddled starting rotation, that’s really all the Twins need.
Of course, the reason the Twins were so short-handed in the bullpen last night was that Scott Baker was forced to exit the game after the second with elbow pain. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear to be anything more serious than another bout of elbow tendinitis, though Baker will undoubtedly miss his next start and possibly a few more. I’m not going to go into great detail on the various missteps by both the front office and Gardy that doomed the Twins last night; Nick Nelson and Hitting the Foul Pole have already done that. I will say this, though: the odds that the Twins were going to blow a 7-3 lead in the eighth inning were just 2.6%. It took an odd series of blown calls and misplays by the infield for the Tigers to tie, and later win, the game. While the whole mess might have been avoided if Baker hadn’t gotten hurt, or Bill Smith had called up some relievers, or Gardy hadn’t pitched Guerrier for the third time in five games, I’m not really so sure about that. Sometimes weird things just happen, and this game was a prime example of that.
Alex Burnett and Rob Delaney have been recalled as well. He hasn’t been great in AAA this year, posting a 4.72 ERA, 1,.312 WHIP, and 4.00 K/BB ratio, but the Rochester defense is awful and he’s actually increased his strikeout rate this season, up to 10.9 K/9 from a career 9.5. As one of the Twins’ top relief prospects, Delaney should be interesting to watch.