After months of so-so starting pitching, it's understandable that Twins fans are a bit giddy over a guy named Andrew Albers.
The Canadian rookie has now tossed 17 1/3 scoreless innings to kick off his major league career, including Monday night's complete game shutout against the Cleveland Indians, a 3-0 Twins win.
While we're careful not to anoint Albers as the best thing since Johan Santana, you have to admit his performance is certainly putting a bit of zip into the dog days of another losing season.
Don't believe us? Then check out these numbers:
Albers threw 102 pitches last night, piling up 76 strikes. Do the math, and that's a 75 percent ratio of strikes versus balls. As Indians skipper Terry Francona put it: "That kid put on a clinic."
Or, as the Akron Beacon Journal put it: Albers consistently befuddled Tribe batsmen with his 86 mph fastball and one pitch (a changeup) that traveled only 65 mph. Seldom will anyone see a pitch in a major-league ballpark dawdle to the plate at that speed unless it is a knuckleball or thrown by a coach in batting practice.
Right now, Albers' major league ERA is at 0.00 through two starts. In Class AAA Rochester this year, he posted a 2.86 ERA (5th in the International League), compiling an 11-5 record for the Red Wings. In 22 starts, Albers also logged three complete games and 116 strikeouts (first in the league).
Albers is a 27-year-old rookie who turns 28 in October. He had Tommy John surgery in 2009. Are his last two starts a flash in the pan or the real deal? Star Tribune baseball writer LaVelle E. Neal III says don't get too excited, just yet. In his words: "We have to wait several starts before we declare him a fixture in the rotation. What happens when Albers faces a team for the second time?"