Minnesota has six starters for five rotation spots and Kevin Slowey looks likely to be the odd man out, with Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting that the Blue Jays “had three scouts watching” his start yesterday.
According to Christensen the Blue Jays “like Slowey and have relievers to spare,” which makes them a good fit as a trade partner after the Twins lost half their bullpen to free agency this offseason in Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Brian Fuentes, Jon Rauch, and Ron Mahay.
Slowey is making $2.7 million this season and is under team control for two more seasons, so the wisdom of dealing him for bullpen help is certainly questionable. He’s never thrown more than 160 innings in a season and struggled with arm problems last year, but Slowey has a 4.41 ERA in 473 career innings through age 26 and his minuscule walk rate of 1.50 per nine innings ranks second in baseball since his debut in 2007, sandwiched in between Roy Halladay (1.42) and Cliff Lee (1.54)
No word yet on which relievers the Twins are targeting from the Blue Jays’ well-stocked bullpen, but they were linked to Jason Frasor at various points last season.
The book heading into the series was that the Dodgers’ starters needed to come up big for them due to questions in the bullpen and that the Brewers’ bullpen was going to dominate Dodgers batters, so they had best do what they can to score off of Milwaukee’s starters. So, of course, the Dodgers starters turned in performances of three and four and a third innings and eight of their nine runs the Brewers have given up have come from their relievers. I dunno, man. It’s baseball. It lends itself to anticipatory analysis worse than any other sport.
All I do know for sure is that this series has been as close as it gets so far, with each game being decided by a run and the outcome being determined late. The first two games have given me a sense that the teams are just feeling each other out and that the next three, in Los Angeles, will provide a bit more coherence to all of this. Not that there isn’t something a bit fun about incoherence when it comes to a playoff series.
Your viewing guide:
NLCS Game 3
Brewers vs. Dodgers
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium
Time: 7:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Jhoulys Chacin vs Walker Buehler
Jhoulys Chacin had an excellent NLDS start against the Colorado Rockies, turning in five scoreless innings. If he does something approaching that tonight the Brewers will be in pretty good shape given that Josh Hader — who pitched three shutdown innings in Game one — is available again tonight. To the extent Craig Counsell needs to dig more deeply into his reliever corps, however, things could get dicey. Corbin Burnes, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel and Joakim Soria have combined to allow seven earned runs in four innings. Brandon Woodruff, who has been dominant thus far, throwing five scoreless innings, stands a good chance of being the opener for Game 4, so Counsell will likely try to keep him off the mound tonight. That puts a decent amount of pressure on Chacin to get the game to Hader with as few innings remaining as possible.
For Los Angeles, it’s Walker Buehler who, the grand slam he gave up to Ronald Acuña in the NLDS notwithstanding, was the Dodgers’ most dominant starter down the stretch. In keeping with the somewhat flipped script so far, however, the Los Angeles bullpen has been solid, allowing just two runs over their ten and two-thirds innings in Games 1 and 2. Not that Dave Roberts wouldn’t love to see Buehler go deep tonight too.