Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Semi-Fantastic Mr. Fox

Momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher.

That Tom Kelly mantra is part of why Thursday's fiasco appeared so potentially devastating for the Twins: They had no starting pitcher for the next day.

Matt Fox: Because
sleep is overrated.
An out-of-the-blue selection, a little roster juggling, a sleepless night and a day traveling later, and Matt Fox is an unlikely hero.

Pitching on short rest — he threw 90 pitches in six innings Monday for Rochester — and wearing the No. 61 made famous by Livan Hernandez, the right-hander looked like a Twins pitcher.

He threw strikes (for the most part): 90 pitches, 55 strikes, 35 balls, although he had just nine first-pitch strikes. He got 17 outs, none on strikes. Pitching to contact — but this game the defense was crisp. Denard Span made a big catch behind him in the first inning, the infield turned a double play (really they did) in the second, and he allowed just five baserunners.

He's not a great pitcher; whatever chance he had at that was probably ruined by his shoulder injury early in his minor league days. He doesn't figure in the Twins rotation plans moving forward, even with the injury to Scott Baker; Kevin Slowey is penciled in to make Baker's next scheduled start.

Fox will stick as a long-man/mop-up guy this month, soaking up some low-leverage innings.

But he earned his letter — and his cut of the postseason kitty — on Friday.


One potential reason Fox disconcerted the Rangers lineup: They probably knew almost nothing about him.

It was his major league debut; heck, he wasn't even on the 40-man roster on Friday morning. So they had no video of him.

He's been pitching in the International League this season; the Rangers' Triple A affiliate is in the Pacific Coast League. He spent 2009 in the Eastern League; the Rangers'  Double-A affiliate is in the Texas League. The last time Fox pitched in a league that included a Texas affiliate was in 2007. Since the Rangers hold spring training in Arizona and the Twins in Florida, they don't even cross paths in March.

This is no small advantage for a pitcher, to be so completely a stranger to the opponents.

1 comment: