Sneaky Like A Fox

There’s a phrase I’ve heard occasionally over the years, and it goes, “With injury comes opportunity.” On a related note, burning through every available reliever and 2 of your starting pitchers, including the guy that was supposed to start the next day will do the same thing. With the aftermath of using 8 pitchers in a 13 inning, 10-9 loss to the Detroit Tigers, the Twins moved Justin Morneau to the 60-day disabled list and called up RHP Matt Fox from Triple-A Rochester to start Friday’s game against the Texas Rangers in place of Nick Blackburn.

While working during Thursday’s marathon game, I speculated with another usher over which pitcher would start Friday’s game. Once Blackburn entered, it was clear that he would not be the starter, and I instantly jumped to Glen Perkins. However, Perkins had thrown 2 innings with the Rochester Red Wings yesterday, and was also deemed unavailable. How about Anthony Swarzak? He started the Red Wings game on Wednesday, and has pitched very poorly this season. With no other outstanding options on the 40-man roster, the Twins instead turned to Fox. I briefly mentioned him here when the Twins were considering swapping Brian Duensing and Nick Blackburn in the rotation, but I pointed out that failing to be on the 40-man roster meant that he was highly unlikely to get promoted. With Morneau’s concussion symptoms not getting any better, moving him to the 60-day DL was an easy decision.

According to Seth Stohs’ Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook,* Fox throws a high-80s cutter, high-80s to low-90s 4-seam fastball, a curveball, and a change-up. Stohs points out that the cutter and curve are his main pitches, and he rarely throws his fastball. The change-up is a work in progress, but is very good when he can command it.

* I see on Seth’s blog that he directly quoted the Prospect Handbook. Go figure.

Here are Fox’s pitching stats in Rochester this year.

6-9, 3.95 ERA, 4.60 FIP, .264 AVG, 3.73 BB/9, 7.61 K/9, 1.24 HR/9, 1.42 WHIP

That large discrepancy between Fox’s ERA and FIP are mainly caused by his 17 home runs allowed in 123 innings pitched. Fox is also a bit of a fly ball pitcher, so facing Vladimir Guerrero, Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton, et al is almost the perfect recipe for seeing at least one home run Friday night, though we’ll see how the Target Field gods feel about that. Seth mentioned that Fox will be pitching on 3 days rest, so it’s very possible that tomorrow will be a rough debut for Fox. I think tomorrow’s start will be adequate (let’s say 4 runs in 5 innings), and as an added bonus for Fox, his debut also allows him to jump from a cellar-dwelling minor league team to a first place major league team.

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