If Devin Smeltzer was nervous on the mound as he made his Major-League debut for the Twins on Tuesday night against the Brewers, it didn't show. Smeltzer, who began the season at Double-A Pensacola, provided the first-place Twins with one of the best starts by a pitcher making his MLB debut in Twins history. No, he wasn't awarded with the Win, but the Twins had a big seventh inning against the Brewers bullpen and held on to the lead to split the two-game series with the Crew.
Devin Smeltzer: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 76.8% strikes (53 of 69 pitches)
Home Runs: Eddie Rosario (17)
Multi-Hit Games: Jorge Polanco 2-for-4
WPA of +0.1: Devin Smeltzer (.365), Willians Astudillo (.159),
WPA of -0.1: Jonathan Schoop (-.110),
The Devin Smeltzer Show
Hey, when a guy makes his MLB debut, it is always going to be a story. But as we know, with Smeltzer, there’s always a bigger story. The fact that he made his major league debut as a 23-year-old when he was diagnosed with cancer as a nine year old is remarkable. The fact that he has been cancer-free for several years is remarkable. His willingness to give back and support others who are dealing with what he has dealt with is, yes, remarkable.
And his major league debut was, in fact, remarkable. Six shutout innings with just 69 pitches, and 53 of them were strikes. He struck out seven batters. And as easy as he made things look in the first, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, he really had to do some work to get through the second and third inning. The second began with a leadoff triple, but he was stranded at third. In the next inning, a leadoff double was stranded.
It was an emotional night for Smeltzer's family, friends and long-time supporters…
And for Jack Morris…
And for Devin Smeltzer too…
Buxton vs The Wall (Part)
Advantage, the Wall. Yasmani Grandal led off the second inning with a blast to the wall in left center field. Byron Buxton raced toward the bullpens, leapt, and just missed the ball. And then, he slammed into the wall. His glove flew one direction. His body was five feet in the air, parallel to the ground. And he landed hard.
Fortunately, the initial diagnosis was “right knee bruise.” It could have been much worse.
Zach Davies Is No Romantic
Despite such a nice MLB debut, Smeltzer got a No Decision because Brewers starter Zach Davies was also very good. Like Smeltzer, Davies doesn’t throw hard. He topped out maybe at 90, sat at 88 most of the time. But he was equal to the task, as he has been for much of the season for the Brewers. He used an impressive two-seam fastball most of the night and hit his spots throughout the night. Like Smeltzer, Davies threw six shutout innings.
Another Big Inning
The Twins have found a way to have a big offensive innings at least once in most games the last several weeks. On Tuesday night, that inning came in the bottom of the seventh inning. Lefty Alex Claudio came in. He’s been very tough on left-handed batters. So, of course, Jason Castro blooped a single to left. Willians Astudillo then grounded to second, but Keston Hiura threw toward second and hit the back of Castro’s helmet. The ball ricocheted into center field which allowed Castro to go to third base and Astudillo to hustle into second. Max Kepler, who has been crushing lefties of late, provided a big line drive double off the wall in right field to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.
A couple of batters later, CJ Cron doubled in a run, and then Eddie Rosario stepped to the plate with two runners on and uncoiled for his 17th homer of the season to give the Twins a 5-0 lead.
A Possible Storyline for Discussion
I think we can all agree that Rocco Baldelli has done a nice job of not overusing his relievers. However, on Monday night, Taylor Rogers struggled and gave up an eighth-inning, go-ahead, two-run homer to Orlando Arcia. On Tuesday, Blake Parker came in for the eighth inning and gave up a two-run homer that cut the lead to 5-2. Taylor Rogers, pitching for the third straight game, started the ninth inning by giving up a solo home run. He got the next two outs before Ryne Harper came on and got the final out.
As I said, I think that we all agree that the long-term benefits of rest for key bullpen arms is important. But in the short-term, might that mean some rust? Might that potential cause some short-term heartburn? Or, do we just give credit to a strong Brewers lineup in this case and realize that even the better guys aren’t going to be perfect every time?
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Next Three Games
Wednesday - Day Off
Thursday - 6:10 @ Tampa Bay- Martin Perez (7-1, 2.95 ERA) vs TBD
Friday - 6:10 @ Tampa Bay - Jose Berrios (7-2, 3.20 ERA) vs TBD
Saturday - 12:10 @ Tampa Bay - Kyle Gibson (5-2, 4.08 ERA) vs TBD