This is an excerpt of a story which originates at Zone Coverage here. Please click through to read it in full.
The Minnesota Twins have placed right-handed starting pitcher Michael Pineda on the disabled list with right knee tendinitis, and are purchasing the contract of 23-year-old lefty Devin Smelzter to take his place on the roster.
Smeltzer will make his debut in a start against Milwaukee on Tuesday night at Target Field.
The Player: Left-handed pitcher Devin Smeltzer
The Situation: Smeltzer will start for the Twins on Tuesday against the Brewers, and may head right back to Rochester with the Twins activating Nelson Cruz on Thursday when they’re in St. Petersburg to play the Tampa Bay Rays. Then, when Mitch Garver is ready to return, the Twins will likely choose between Luis Arraez and Willians Astudillo — most likely Arraez.
The Numbers: 1.82 ERA, 5.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 0.90 WHIP in 24.2 innings at Pensacola (Double-A); 0.60 ERA, 9.9 K/9, 0.9 BB/9, 0.73 WHIP in 30 innings at Rochester (Triple-A).
For the season, Smeltzer has absolutely nuked left-handed hitters (.182/.224/.218) and righties haven’t had much success either (.206/.248/.305). Another fun split is how he’s faced against hitters younger than him (.143/.182/.143 in 44 PA) and older (.214/.258/.318 in 164 PA) and he’s not distinctly a fly ball or groundball pitcher.
His groundball rate — remember that 45 percent is about average — is 41.3 percent this year in Rochester, was 41.4 percent at Pensacola and has never been higher than that outside of his stint at Low-A in 2017 (47.7 percent).
The Oddity: Smeltzer, a bladder cancer survivor — rhabdomyosarcoma, say that five times fast — is one of few remaining players who not only wear high socks, but stirrups as well.
The Lowdown: I watched him in his best and worst starts of the year — and it’s worth noting that both came against the Durham Bulls in the span of less than a week, and in that order. A lot of people wonder about how hitters will react to seeing a pitcher in consecutive starts — a chicken/egg debate over who it favors — but in this case, the Bulls got the better of the lefty the second time out.
Physically, Smeltzer is slender and very tall. He’s not Nick Gordon thin, but there’s almost no extra weight on his frame in the upper half. He has big, strong pitcher legs adorned by the aforementioned stirrup socks.