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Pumping the Brakes

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On Saturday night, the Twins faced off against White Sox ace Chris Sale, widely regarded as one of the best pitchers in all of baseball in just his second season as a full-time starter. They countered with an “ace” of their own in Canadian lefty Andrew Albers, a 27-year-old journeyman who was pitching in the independent Can-Am league as recently as 2010. I refer to Albers as an ace not because I believe that he is one (far from it), but because just two starts into his career he was being hailed as one by fans and the media alike. Fortunately, the matchup served as a great reminder of what a real ace looks like, and he most certainly does not reside in the home team’s dugout.

Albers’ story is truly unique, yet his is an all-too-familiar one for this particular Twins fan. While some take joy in watching him pitch, I am simply reminded of how many times I have seen this narrative play out before. His incredible debut aside, Albers is a fringe major league starter with almost no pedigree and below-average stuff. There is a reason he was not called up before P.J. Walters…or Samuel Deduno…or Kyle Gibson. There is a reason he was still pitching in the minor leagues at the age of 27. There is a reason he is not pitching for a contender.

This is not to take anything away from Albers himself. His journey to the big leagues is an incredible one, and the perseverance he showed throughout that journey is commendable. His story and others like it are what separate baseball from every other sport, and what make it so uniquely special. He is a feel good story, and for his sake I hope he pitches like Cy Young for the rest of this season and beyond. But I am tired of feel good stories.

It is fine to appreciate what Albers is doing, but let us not forget why he is in the position to do so in the first place. He is exactly the type of pitcher that turned the Twins into a perennial 90-loss team, and he is exactly the type of pitcher that they need to let go of in order to get out of their current mess and get back to respectability. As Aaron Gleeman tweeted last week, Andrew Albers is really nothing more than Scott Diamond, the man he replaced in the rotation. And Scott Diamond was really nothing more than Nick Blackburn, the back-end starter that came before him. And on and on it goes.

I hope that people paid attention Saturday night, because after three years of batting practice, it is easy to forget what a good starting pitcher looks like. Chris Sale is an ace. Andrew Albers is not. How about we stop pretending otherwise. #p2c

Originally published at pitching2contact


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