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  • Pumping The Brakes

    On Saturday night, the Twins faced off against White Sox ace Chris Sale, widely regarded as one of the best pitchers in all of baseball in just his second season as a full-time starter. They countered with an “ace” of their own in Canadian lefty Andrew Albers, a 27-year-old journeyman who was pitching in the independent Can-Am league as recently as 2010. I refer to Albers as an ace not because I believe that he is one (far from it), but because just two starts into his career he was being hailed as one by fans and the media alike. Fortunately, the matchup served as a great reminder of what a real ace looks like, and he most certainly does not reside in the home team’s dugout.

    Albers’ story is truly unique, yet his is an all-too-familiar one for this particular Twins fan. While some take joy in watching him pitch, I am simply reminded of how many times I have seen this narrative play out before. His incredible debut aside, Albers is a fringe major league starter with almost no pedigree and below-average stuff. There is a reason he was not called up before P.J. Walters…or Samuel Deduno…or Kyle Gibson. There is a reason he was still pitching in the minor leagues at the age of 27. There is a reason he is not pitching for a contender.

    This is not to take anything away from Albers himself. His journey to the big leagues is an incredible one, and the perseverance he showed throughout that journey is commendable. His story and others like it are what separate baseball from every other sport, and what make it so uniquely special. He is a feel good story, and for his sake I hope he pitches like Cy Young for the rest of this season and beyond. But I am tired of feel good stories.

    It is fine to appreciate what Albers is doing, but let us not forget why he is in the position to do so in the first place. He is exactly the type of pitcher that turned the Twins into a perennial 90-loss team, and he is exactly the type of pitcher that they need to let go of in order to get out of their current mess and get back to respectability. As Aaron Gleeman tweeted last week, Andrew Albers is really nothing more than Scott Diamond, the man he replaced in the rotation. And Scott Diamond was really nothing more than Nick Blackburn, the back-end starter that came before him. And on and on it goes.

    I hope that people paid attention Saturday night, because after three years of batting practice, it is easy to forget what a good starting pitcher looks like. Chris Sale is an ace. Andrew Albers is not. How about we stop pretending otherwise. #p2c

    Originally published at pitching2contact
    This article was originally published in blog: Pumping the Brakes started by jdotmcmahon
    Comments 8 Comments
    1. orangevening's Avatar
      orangevening -
      I don't see a problem, it can even a benefit, if a pitcher like Albers is followed by or proceeds a *better stuff* type pitcher (esp. Right handed). At least the first time go though I think it may be a adjustment for the batters. One Albers/Diamond type pitcher is ok. Problem is when you have 2/3/4/5 of them.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      This speaks to the rarity of quality starting pitching more than anything else. The Twins don't get better by releasing Albers. They get better by acquiring viable alternatives, which is really, really hard to do.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      I think Albers is very different than Scort Diamond. He is not the rely on ground balls pitch to contact type. He is a fly ball pitcher. He comes to the majors with reverse platoon splits. At best, he profiles like Bruce Chen who has had a long career. Barry Zito is more similar to Albers than Diamond. There aren't many guys like this who have been successful, but it is worth giving him this opportunity.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Albers had a great first two starts. And, even though he gave up five last night, he showed something. Dude is tough, very competitive. Does he have great stuff and velocity? No. Does he know who he is? Absolutely. And last night after the game, Gardy made the comment that Albers had Dunn 0-2 with two outs in the one inning and didn't get him and four runs scored. Just have to make one more pitch. He still went 7. He still worked fast. Albers said after the game that he just struggled to get into a rhythm, that it took awhile. That happens.

      Talked to Gibson, and he was talking about how he needed to do some of the things that Albers has done. If Gibson does it, he can be terrific because he has stuff... but sometimes, there are exceptions. Most likely, Albers won't pitch after this year. Just enjoy the story and hope...
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Albers is the kind of guy you want in AAA to come up and make occasional spot starts but return to AAA when done. You don't want to rely on a guy like him. Unfortunately, we have too many guys like him, and not enough quality pitchers.
    1. Tibs's Avatar
      Tibs -
      Yeah, we get it. The Twins kinda suck this year and have the past couple years. They might lose 90 games again. They need better starting pitching. It sounds like a broken record. No one in their right mind would actually claim that Albers is an ace. How about we enjoy some of the positive things that Twins players do this year?
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tibs View Post
      Yeah, we get it. The Twins kinda suck this year and have the past couple years. They might lose 90 games again. They need better starting pitching. It sounds like a broken record. No one in their right mind would actually claim that Albers is an ace. How about we enjoy some of the positive things that Twins players do this year?

      See Brian Dozier thread.
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      Can you honestly find one example of "fans and media alike" hailing him as an ace? I read and listen to a lot of Twins content. Sure seems from here that everyone has enjoyed the pleasant surprise, but none are fooled into thinking that an 86 MPH fastball puts a pitcher in "Ace" conversations.
      Alex Meyer and Kohl Stewart have been targeted for high upside. To a lesser extent, JO Berrios, Trevor May, Mason Melotakis. Albers doesn't make the list of pitchers who the Twins hope will rise to ace status. I don't think the Twins will stop looking because of Albers' 2 good starts.
      In a season like this, a good storyline is a bright spot. Finding a potential building block (even if it is a low-ceiling guy) is good thing where there haven't been enough good things.
      Your article may be overreacting to a nonexistent opinion.
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