The other day, I was talking with one of my co-workers about the season that Kevin Slowey had in the Minnesota Twins rotation.
Before I get ahead of myself, let me stress that Slowey did not reach the innings ceiling needed to qualify for the league lead. In fact, as far as I can tell, he fell just 3 innings short of the mark (pitcher must toss 1 IP for every team game played to qualify as a league leader, according to baseballreference.com). Slowey threw 160 1/3 innings in the Twins 163 games.
However, had the 24-year-old Slowey thrown the necessary 3 more innings to qualify, he would have been the second-youngest pitcher in major league history since 1900 to post a K/BB ratio of at least 5. The youngest – by about six months – was a former Twins pitcher himself, Jim Merritt, who in 1967 was 23 when he did it.* AND Slowey would have finished behind only Roy Halladay and Dan Haren in the big leagues this season. AND if Slowey manages to maintain the current 4.86 K/BB ratio he’s built so far in his career, he would shatter the career K/BB record set in any era. Tommy Bond – an 1880s pitcher – has the record at 4.44. Curt Schilling is second at 4.38. See the list here.
* Merritt’s career came and went well before my time. Looks like his career flamed out due to arm trouble, but he was considered a promising young pitcher. Claim to fame: While trying to resurrect his career, he was once fined $250 for using K-Y jelly he got from Texas Rangers teammate Gaylord Perry. If anyone remembers Merritt, feel free to post in the Comments section. I’m interested in hearing about him.
I have to add this funny excerpt also. It’s courtesy of Joe Posnanski’s blog, which is linked to on the sidebar:
"Minnesota’s Kevin Slowey threw a 101-pitch, complete-game gem against the Royals on Monday, and he looked very good, but the whole game I could not help but think how the Royals were getting dominated by a pitcher named “Slowey.” Is he the most comically named pitcher in the game today? Slowey. I wrote in my column that after Slowey stomped the Royals, their only hope is to face a pitcher called “Clyde Hangingcurvey.” "
Slowey has long been applauded for his command of the strike zone during his minor league career and brief major league career. Prior to joining the Twins in 2007, Slowey started 20 games for Triple-A Rochester and posted a sick 107/18 K/BB ratio. And this year with the Twins, he nearly matched that, putting up a 123/24 K/BB ratio, which figures to 5.125 K for every BB. Here are his minor and major league stats courtesy of The Baseball Cube.
Slowey’s strike-throwing ability just seems a natural fit for the Twins. Slowey, Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano should give the Twins three dependable starters heading into next season.
Of course K/BB ratio isn’t the be all, end all. However, he’s in pretty good company among the 2008 season leaders and the career leaderboard. Maybe he’s the next Brad Radke – there’s nothing wrong with that. Or maybe he’s got the chance to be something even greater.