The Twins returned Scott Baker to the 15-day disabled list with a strained flexor muscle in his right elbow and recalled Kevin Slowey, who is scheduled to start Sunday in Cleveland.
On a list of unhappy pitchers with 4.6 career strikeout-to-walk ratios in the major leagues, Kevin Slowey must be somewhere near the top. Slowey actually went 13-6 last season, but his ERA wasn't real good because he gives up a lot of home runs, but he's been hurt this season and the Twins don't like him much anyway, so most of his action's come in the minors ... where he's done what he always does.
Slowey's action with the big club this season consists of six relief outings and 15 innings. His track record suggests a perfectly capable No. 4/5 starter, and he's still only 27. He'll probably need to find a new team to get another legitimate shot in the rotation, so the next few weeks are probably an audition that Slowey will be highly motivated to pass.
“I have no problem pitching with some discomfort as long as it’s something that’s not going to get worse,” Baker said. “I’m OK being a little sore, but if you’re not effective because of it, then that’s a different story. So we’ve got some things to talk through.”
Baker has posted the best numbers of any Twins starter this season, with a 3.21 ERA, a 1.2 WHIP and a 122 ERA+. He spent time on the disabled list last month with what was then described as “a right flexor sprain”, and said though it’s not any worse, it’s not really getting any better, either:
“It’s not as bad as it initially was,” Baker said. “It’s just really kind of lingered for a while, and it takes a lot of work to get loose. … I guess there’s never an ideal time for this. It’s never easy, but you don’t want to be that guy that has to go on the DL, if that’s the decision they make.”
The Twins’ medical staff will check Baker out and likely make a decision Tuesday on whether he’ll have to return to the DL.
Just as they're looking, against all odds, contenders in the American League Central, the Minnesota Twins have lost their best starting pitcher. From Kelsie Smith (via TwinCities.com):
After returning from the all-star break, Scott Baker thought he would be ready to start the first game of today's doubleheader against Cleveland, but as that start drew closer, the right-hander grew less certain his strained flexor muscle was ready and expressed his concern to the team Sunday.
That was all manager Ron Gardenhire needed to hear.
After Minnesota's 4-3 victory over Kansas City, the Twins placed Baker on the disabled list, retroactive to July 7, optioned infielder Matt Tolbert to Class AAA Rochester and called up left-handed pitchers Scott Diamond and Chuck James.
Baker hasn't pitched since the 5th, so if this injury's not significant he'll be back quite soon, perhaps missing just two starts thanks to the All-Star break.
For the moment, his spot's being assumed by Diamond, slated to start against the Indians in the nightcap of their split doubleheader. Last winter, the Twins grabbed Diamond from the Braves in the Rule 5 draft, and though he didn't make Minnesota's 25-man roster, instead of sending him back to Atlanta the Twins traded a prospect to the Braves and kept Diamond. The left-hander doesn't have great stuff, but he throws strikes and keeps the ball down; that is, he's exactly the sort of pitcher the Twins like.
His stay in the majors this time doesn't figure to last long, though.