Saturday, August 10, 2013

Contemplating Andrew Albers and Liam Hendriks

Andrew Albers cleans up after getting
a shaving cream pie following his
major league debut Tuesday.
The Twins this week reached down to Triple A for a pair of starters, both of whom fared well.

Andrew Albers replaced Scott Diamond in the rotation and made an immediate splash with 8.1 shutout innings against Kansas City on Tuesday. Albers' performance was all the more impressive considering how poorly Kevin Correia and Samuel Deduno fared in the other games of the series.

Albers drew some immediate comparisons to Diamond — left-handed, mediocre velocity, from Canada — but the guy who came to mind for me was Mark Buehrle, the long-time White Sox mainstay now with Toronto, also a lefty without an imposing fastball.

Buehrle is notorious for a rapid pace to his pitching, and Albers certainly followed that pattern. In a Twins season marked by excruciatingly long games and pitchers reluctant to make their next pitch -- Mike Pelfrey is not the only one -- it was a refreshing sight.

If what Buehrle does were that simple, more pitchers would be doing it. Albers will certainly get several more opportunities.

Catcher Chris Herrmann and Liam Hendriks
consult in the sixth inning Friday. Hendriks
went 6.1 innings, allowing two runs in
one of his better major-league starts.
One thing in Albers' favor on Tuesday that won't be replicated in his next start: The  Royals almost certainly had a minimal scouting report on him. Not only was it Albers' major league debut, but the Royals and Twins farm systems are remarkably separate. Their Triple A teams are in different leagues, their Double-A teams are in different leagues, their high A teams are in different leagues.

In this case, ignorance was not bliss.

Liam Hendriks' stint was one-and-done; he was called up strictly to make the start in Game Two of Friday's double header and was shipped back to Rochester immediately the Twins's 3-2 extra inning victory.

Hendriks may well be back in September, and there were some positive signs from him against the White Sox Friday, most notably a lack of the nibbling at the edges of the strike zone when ahead in the count.

Still, the Aussie's stock can't be high in the organization. He's having a far worse season in Triple A this year compared to last (9-3, 2.20 in 2012, 3-8, 5.12 this year), and the rationale offered by assistant general manager Rob Antony for picking Hendriks for Friday's game was We didn't have many options.

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