Potential Off-Season Targets: Kevin Slowey


With the 2011 season over, the old saying, “There’s always next season,” instantly becomes all Mets fan’s credo. But before we can think about riding the 7-train out to Flushing again, there is a whole off-season to project and pontificate about. Considering the amount of holes the Mets will have, this coming off-season holds a lot of importance.

In this new on-going series, Rising Apple will analyze potential off-season targets for the New York Mets. Today’s target at-hand is current Minnesota Twins pitcher, Kevin Slowey.

Kevin Slowey was never a hard-throwing pitcher, and that still rings true today. In five Major League seasons, Slowey’s fastball has averaged 89.6 miles per hour. But zip isn’t everything for a pitcher. Slowey happens to be one of the better control-artists in the show, owning a career 1.42 BB/9. In fact, the right-hander’s “worst” control was in 2010, when he walked batters at a 1.71 rate–which was still top five in the entire league.

Slowey first made his Major League debut back in 2007 for the Twins. As a 23 year-old, Slowey was inserted into the rotation, and immediately showcased his value as a solid pitcher–posting a 4.73 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, and 4.27 K/BB. As daunting as a full-season can often be for a young pitcher, Slowey took it in stride, hurling a 3.99 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 5.13 K/BB in 160.3 innings during the 2008 season. The right-hander’s career appeared to be on the fast track.

However, in 2009, Slowey experienced his first injury. After posting a respectable 4.86 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 5.00 K/BB in 90.6 innings, Slowey was placed on the disabled list on July 4 with a strained wrist. Tests revealed that the injury spurned from a “pre-existing bone fragment,” and the pitcher opted for season-ending surgery. Coming off of wrist surgery in 2010, the pitcher once again proved to be an asset, posting a 4.45 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 4.00 K/BB in 155.6 innings. While Slowey never seemed to be slowed down by his wrist injury, he still was unable to eclipse his all-time 160.3 innings mark.

Going into 2011, Slowey embarked on an unusual situation–rotation competition. For the first time in his career, the control artist was not guaranteed a rotation spot, mostly due to “emergence” of Brian Duensing and fascination with Nick Blackburn. Despite his prior experience and success, Slowey was deprived his usual starting gig, and was placed in the bullpen. But just three games into April, the now-reliever started feeling soreness in his right biceps muscle. A MRI revealed tendinitis, prompting the Twins to place Slowey on the disabled list.

On May 7, Slowey was activated from the disabled list, and despite being rumored to re-join the rotation, was once again relegated to bullpen duties. Yet after only three appearances (albeit quite large ones), Slowey again felt pain in his right arm. On May 25, the pitcher was placed back on the disabled list-where he would stay until August 19.

Slowey was returned to the rotation in August, but has not fared particularly well. In 44.6 innings (eight starts), the right-hander has posted a lopsided 7.25 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 6.75 K/BB. The high-ERA is a little deceiving, as Slowey’s unfair .331 BABIP and more-telling 4.42 xFIP suggest he’s not pitching nearly as poorly as some of his surface stats illustrate. It’s also worth noting that Slowey has only walked four batters in his eight starts, which translates to an uncanny 0.81 BB/9.

Given Slowey’s now elaborate injury history, there is a good chance the Twins will non-tender him in the off-season. While Slowey’s $2.7 million price-tag won’t turn many heads, he should make around $4 million in arbitration (despite the bad season). Since the Twins are also a lock to trim their historically-high salary of $113 million, Slowey could certainly be part of the fat trimmed in the off-season. In addition, either Anthony Swarzak, Scott Diamond, or Liam Hendriks could conceivably replace Slowey in the rotation next season, and would obviously be cheaper options given their minimal service time.

The New York Mets could turn to a pitcher like Slowey with the hopes that some scenery change could bode well. In addition, considering Slowey’s career 47.9% FB%, his approach would thrive in the lofty dimensions of Citi Field. Even if the Mets were to trade for Slowey (as opposed to waiting for the Twins to non-tender him), his post-arbitration contract would still be favorable to the Mets own arbitration eligible Mike Pelfrey (2011 salary: $3.925). Kevin Slowey is by no means the most exciting pitcher in the world, but if deemed healthy, there is a good chance he will be a potential off-season target for the Mets.