The Kevin Slowey relief experiment has ended, and a change of scenery appears to be in order. The 27-year-old control artist told Twins manager Ron Gardenhire he was having a hard time as a reliever, according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Slowey is headed back to Triple-A to get stretched out as a starter, but Gardenhire implied on ESPN 1500 that the right thing is to find the righty a starting opportunity with another club. After Sunday's game, Slowey had this to say to Neal:
"I understand our situation here. I understand the starters we have here, and I understand that, even given past successes as a starter, this might not be the right fit for me anymore."
That's a far cry from March of 2009, when Slowey talked to MLBTR about how he'd love to stay with the Twins long-term.
It's odd that a team with the second-worst rotation in the AL to date can't find room for Slowey, but Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker are pitching well and Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano were very good last year. There's a case to be made for replacing Brian Duensing, but the Twins may prefer to give top prospect Kyle Gibson a look.
Slowey is not without his flaws. He's a righty with a 90 mile per hour heater. He's hittable, and his high flyball rate makes him prone to the longball. He's averaged about 5.5 innings per start in recent years and hasn't reached 175 in a season since '07. Most recently, he battled a shoulder strain in April.
Some team has a chance to buy low on Slowey, though, since he is capable of a sub-4.00 ERA. Slowey is earning $2.7MM this year, and is under team control through 2013 as an arbitration eligible player. Given how the 2011 season has gone so far, his 2012 raise should be limited. Contenders like the Red Sox and Marlins are currently hurting for starting pitching, though needs will become clearer for all teams a month or two from now. The Blue Jays reportedly had interest in Slowey in early March.