David Huff returned to the Indians earlier this month and so far so good. Of course, this performance has consisted of two relief appearances totaling six innings. However, considering some of the performances we’ve seen from other Indians relief pitchers this season, watching Huff turn in two quality appearances has been a bit refreshing. Now he makes his return to the mound as a starter. It’s not clear what we can expect from Huff, but one can only hope that it turns into a positive outing. The Indians could use Huff as a viable candidate to help round out the rotation heading into 2013. It’s unlikely he has enough time to secure a spot, but at the very least he can turn a few heads and put himself in the conversation. Another factor that should help Huff is the fact that he’s left handed. That’s something the Indians haven’t had in the rotation on a regular basis at all this year.
Meanwhile, P.J. Walters will make his ninth start of the season for the Twins and his third since being recalled from Triple A at the beginning of September. Needless to say, things haven’t gone well. In his last two starts, Walters has thrown a total of nine innings allowing 12 earned runs and posting and ERA of 12.00. He’s been hit hard and hit often allowing a triple slash line of .308/.400/.538 and giving up three long balls. The Twins aren’t expecting greatness, though. Like the Indians, they simply want to see who can perform well at this level in order to better build their team for 2013. As it looks right now, don’t expect Walters to be in the Twins roation on opening day unless he turns in a lights out performance tonight against the tribe and again in his final two starts.
Zach McAllister rebounded nicely in his last start. Against the Rangers, a team that had lit him up about a week prior, McAllister threw six dominant innings allowing only two runs (one earned) to cross the plate. He received a no decision even though the Indians were able to pull out the victory, but it was still a good sign for a pitcher that had run into a tough stretch over his three previous starts. Can he build off of that start and put together back to back strong outings for a team that desperately needs it? Hopefully, but regardless of the outcome, it’s probably safe to assume McAllister has done enough to earn a spot in the rotation come 2013.
As for Hendriks, he’s seen better days. For the season he’s accumulated a record of 0-7 in 13 starts. But the question is, has he been as bad as his record indicates or has he been the victim of bad luck along the way? Well, his BABIP of .348 suggests that he’s fallen victim to balls finding holes and dropping in for hits at an abnormally high rate, so perhaps that’s the case. Sometimes pitchers just have years like that where everything that can go wrong will go wrong. At age 23, Hendriks is still young enough to figure things out and by no means should he be considered a lost cause for the Twins. In a year in which the Twins were never expected to compete gaining experience has been crucial to his development.
Don’t look now, but Corey Kluber had a pretty decent start the last time he took the mound. On Friday against the Tigers, Kluber allowed only 4 runs over 5 innings to a team that is more than capable of scoring runs in bunches. He still took the loss as the Indians offense failed to score a single run, but it was an encouraging sign for a pitcher that has been less than spectacular for most of his time on the big league roster in 2012. Odds are Kluber will not be in the rotation in 2013 as there are plenty of other options readily available, but Kluber could turn himself into a reliable spot starter. What I’m looking for in this game is to see how he responds to being the superior pitcher in the matchup for a change. Can he go out there and get the job done and guide the Indians to a victory?
The fun part of September is seeing pitchers that you’ve barely ever seen before. Vasquez is one of those pitchers. He made a handful of relief appearances with the Diamnondbacks prior to this season but the Twins decided to make him a starter. So far this season in three starts for the Twins the results have been less than spectacular. This will more than likely go one of two ways for the Indians. They’ll jump all over Vasquez in much the same way they did the previous time they saw him and send him to the showers before the game is made official yet again. That, or… Vasquez will rebound and pitch a gem. There isn’t going to be much in between that. He’s either going to be lights out or awful.