Before the 2013 season, Andrew Albers had never won more than eight games in his professional career, never struck out more than 100 batters, and had only pitched more than 100 innings one time. But 2013 has been a breakout year for the 27-year-old Kentucky grad, In 22 starts with the Rochester Red Wings Albers has won 11 games, struck out 116 batters while walking just 32 and has an ERA of 2.86. Tuesday he will make his major league debut with the Minnesota Twins, so here’s a look at a month-by-month breakdown of Albers season, and how each month he’s been better than the last.
April – 0-1 23.2 IP, 28 H, 11 ER, 6 BB, 24 SO. 4.18 ERA
Originally pegged as the Red Wings 5th
starter, Albers first start was on April 8th
against the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. While it wasn’t a long outing it was effective. He went 4.2 innings, giving up just three hits, one run, one walk and striking out five. Early in the season there was a pretty low pitch count for the Wings' pitchers. In this game he only threw 76 pitches and did not factor into the decision.
Photo Courtesy of the Rochester Red Wings
Albers continued to pitch well in his second start as well against the Pawtucket Red Sox. This time he went five innings, gave up four hits, struck out five batters and walked none. He left with a 1-0 lead but Daniel Turpen was unable to hold down the lead and Albers got a no decision. He faced them again in his next outing, and it did not go well, to say the least. He pitched only two innings, gave up four hits, three runs, three walks and one strikeouts. It was his shortest outing of the season.
In his first outing against the Syracuse Chiefs, the struggles continued. He pitched six innings, gave up nine hits, five runs, two walks, six strikeouts and worst of all he allowed two home runs in the game. He did not factor in the decision yet the Red Wings went on to win the game 10-5.
In his final outing of the month, his second against the Buffalo Bisons, Albers seemed to break out of the slump and pitched arguably his best start of the season until then. In six innings, he gave up eight hits, two runs, no walks and seven strikeouts; he did allow one home run as well. But he wasn't rewarded; after four straight no decisions, Albers picked up his first loss and dropped to 0-1 on the year.
May: 2-1, 29 IP, 30 H, 11 R, 8 ER, 10 BB, 25 SO, 2.48 ERA
In his first start in the May, Albers had the opportunity to face off against the 9-23 Toledo Mud Hens. In his longest outing of the year to that date, he pitched 6.1 innings, gave up just three hits, two walks and three strikeouts. Once again Albers did not factor into the decision and the Red Wings went on to lose the game 1-0. But for the second straight start, he was not the chief reason for defeat.
Pitching in game one of a doubleheader against the Columbus Clippers, Albers remained sharp and regained the strikeout form he had earlier in the year. In six innings, he allowed five hits, two runs, zero earned runs, one walk, seven strikeouts - and picked up his second loss of the year.
It took eight starts before he was able to pick up a win, but on May 17th
against the Durham Bulls Andrew Albers got the job done. In 6.1 innings, he allowed five hits, no runs, three walks, and six strikeouts. While there were several opportunities for him to win the game, the pieces just didn’t fall into place. Now at 1-2 on the year his ERA stood at 2.34.
While his next start against the Charlotte Knights was not his best outing, it was good enough for Albers to pick up his second win of the season. In this start he pitched six innings, gave up 10 hits, three runs, one walk and six strikeouts. While his record improved, the Red Wings as a team were still struggling, standing at 19-28.
His final May start against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, was one that he would likely want to forget. In 4.1 IP, he allowed seven hits, six runs, five earned runs, three walks, and three strikeouts. Once again Albers did not factor into the decision, and the Wings went on to win the game 8-7.
June: 5-1, 39.1 IP, 34 H, 13 R, 8 BB, 31 SO, 2.97 ERA
His first start against the Charlotte Knights was not great. In his second start against the Knights was not much better. In six innings, he gave up seven hits, four runs, two walks, four strikeouts and two home runs allowed. Albers picked up his third win of the year, and the Red Wings record improved to 25-32 on the year.
If there was a start that said Andrew Albers was emerging as the ace for Rochester, this next start was it. He pitched a complete game shutout against the Gwinnett Braves, giving up just six hits, no walks and seven strikeouts and improved his season record to 4-2, winning three of the four most recent starts.
Then, for the second time in a week Albers faced off against Gwinnett, and the results were no different. While he did not pitch a complete game he did pitch seven innings, gave up just four hits, two runs, walked one batter and struck out six. For the third straight game Albers won his start, and his record stood at 5-2 on the year.
The second start against Scranton was much different than the first one. Albers was able to pitch 6.1 innings versus 4.1, he allowed four hits, two runs, but also allowed two home runs, two walks and four strikeouts. Albers continued to win, improving to 6-2 on the season and with every start it appeared he was building confidence and becoming one of the best pitchers in the International league.
The wins kept rolling. Next time his victim was the Louisville Bats. Although the outing was brief, he was able to pick up his fifth straight win in a five inning start in which he gave up five hits, one run, two walks and six strikeouts. At this point it was time to wonder exactly how long it would be before he joined the Twins rotation.
In both April and May. Albers ended the month on a rough note, and the streak continued in June. Indianapolis scored four runs on eight hits in six innings, and allowed three homers as well. Albers struck out four batters and walked one, picking up his first loss since May 17th
July: 4-2, 40.1 IP, 32 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 8 BB, 36 SO, 2.23 ERA.
In his first two starts against the Buffalo Bison, Albers pitched well, but was unable to pick up a win. Third time was the charm, pitching seven innings, allowing five hits, one run, no walks and striking out six. After struggling in his previous start it now seemed like that was just a bump in the road and he was back to being the number one starter in Rochester.
When you face a team three times in a season, they tend to pick up on your tendencies, which is exactly what happened against the RailRiders. In five innings, Albers allowed nine hits, five runs, two walks and struck out five. This was the last time that he was hit around like that.
His next three starts were nothing short of amazing. Against Pawtucket, Syracuse and Norfolk he pitched a combined 20.1 innings, giving up 13 hits, three runs with two earned runs, walking five and striking out 21. During that stretch he won those three in a row, went two starts without allowing an earned run and had an ERA of 0.90. He improved to 11-4 on the year.
In his final start for Rochester against Lehigh Valley, Albers again showed that he’s ready for the challenge at the next level. While he did pick up the loss, he pitched eight innings, allowing just five hits, two runs, one walk and four strikeouts. Unfortunately for him, run support was not sufficient and he finished with a record of 11-5.
While I don’t think Andrew Albers is going to win 20 games in a season or be a top of the rotation starter, I do think that he will be an innings eater who can provide some quality starts for the Twins. One of the biggest differences between Albers this year and years past is his ability to strike people out, a skill that until this year was not his strength. If he is able to do in Minnesota what he did this season in Rochester, he’ll be someone to get excited about in 2014.