Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ex-Twins watch: Kevin Slowey

Kevin Slowey was 39-21 with the Twins
through 2010. Then they tried to make him
a relief pitcher, and everything fell apart
for him. Now he's a Marlin, and his career
record is 41-35.
Kevin Slowey re-emerged this spring with the Miami Marlins, winning a rotation berth as a non-roster invitee under his former teammate, rookie manager Mike Redmond.

On Monday, Redmond said he was taking Slowey (2-6, 4.10) out of the rotation and making him the long reliever.

I know. That worked so well with the Twins in 2011, didn't it? Which makes it particularly amusing that part of Redmond's rationale is that "Slowey's done it before."

Yes, he has. Poorly. And his career, and the Twins starting rotation, shipwrecked on the decision.

Redmond's making room for an injured pitcher who's returning to the rotation, plus there's this: Slowey, who got off to a very strong start to the season (he had a 1.81 ERA after a May 5 start), has been pretty bad since (7.08 ERA in his last seven outings). The best of those outings was a seven-inning shutout emergency relief job in a 19-inning win June 8, which might be part of why Redmond thinks he's a good fit for long relief.

My guess, however — and Redmond hints at this in the above link — is that Slowey-to-the-pen is temporary. The Marlins may have an excess of starting candidates at the moment, but that's likely to change. Pretty good chance at least one starter gets hurt. Jose Fernandez, their best starter, is just 20; the Marlins may want to shut him down early. We're in the middle of June, and the July trading rumors are revving up; Ricky Nolasco is a pretty likely trade candidate.

Heck, a statistically oriented front office might want to target Slowey himself. His walk and strikeout rates are still very strong (1.6 BB/9, 7.3 K/9, 4.57 K/BB). And the Marlins obviously aren't committed to him.

I can see Slowey in the back of a contender's rotation in the second half. And with a better team behind him, his record might perk up.

I've always liked Slowey, and was hoping to see him start against the Twins when they visit Miami next week. That now seems unlikely.

I've long thought Slowey and the Twins both mishandled things in 2011. I'd like to see him rebuild his career, and even with this current demotion, I think he's back on track.

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