December 6, 2011
The Rockies Trade for Slowey
Acquired P-R Kevin Slowey from the Twins for a player to be named later. [12/6]
In retrospect, the Twins have been ready to move on from Slowey for a while now. Minnesota’s discontent traces back to spring training when, given the choice between starting Slowey or Nick Blackburn, the Twins chose the latter, and moved Slowey to the bullpen. With just three outings under his belt, Slowey contracted a case of shoulder inflammation and hit the disabled list. Two weeks after his return, he headed right back to the DL with an abdomen strain, which kept him sidelined for the next two months.
When Slowey did pitch for the Twins in 2011, he left Ron Gardenhire clutching his own stomach. Despite starting eight games, Slowey mustered just two "quality" outings, recorded nearly 20 more hits allowed than innings pitched, and suffered the indignity of finishing with a higher earned run average (6.67) than strikeouts per nine (5.2). It should come as no surprise, then, that Slowey almost had more plate appearances end in an extra-base hit (11.2 percent) than a strikeout (13.2 percent).
Allowing too much contact is not a new development for Slowey, who possesses a career 1.4 home runs per nine innings pitched rate and .314 batting average on balls in play. He just seems hittable, and the tag fits in part because of what Slowey is—a righty with a high-80s fastball, no discernible out pitch, and fly-ball tendencies. Such a combination makes him a horrible fit for Coors Field, a park that should exacerbate his problems.
Perhaps Colorado thinks that a change in mechanics, arsenal, or philosophy can turn Slowey’s career around. Or, maybe Colorado found the transaction costs low enough that not giving a starting pitcher with a sterling strikeout-to-walk ratio a chance would be criminal. Do not look for Slowey to make it as a relief pitcher, as Nate Silver wrote about the starting-to-relief transition back in the day and found that pitchers who struggle with extra-base hits tend to fail in the bullpen, too. If Slowey can just serve as organizational depth, the Rockies might find this deal worth their time.