Wetmore: 5 thoughts on Swarzak's spot start, Arcia, and a comp pick
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This column presents 5 thoughts on Wednesday's game.
As always, feel free to ask questions or make observations in the comments. If you have a unique baseball observation during a game, feel free to share it with me on Twitter (@DerekWetmore).
If the Twins can't agree to an affordable extension for catcher Kurt Suzuki, they should trade him this week.
1. Anthony Swarzak made a spot start Wednesday and pitched well. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game that Swarzak likely would be around 50 or 60 pitches if things went well. The right-hander, though, pitched 5 innings using 74 pitches and allowed just one run. He struck out three batters and walked one.
General manager Terry Ryan was asked before the game if Swarzak could earn a regular starting role with a good performance, given the current state of the Twins rotation. He acknowledged that the starting staff was in rough shape but said it would be "premature" to talk about Swarzak in a starting role. That was before his start.
Swarzak said he has not received any indication it could be an extended opportunity to start.
"There has been no indication of that whatsoever. I don't know what's going to happen," Swarzak said. "And to be honest with you, as long as I have a jersey in my locker I'm happy because it means I'm pitching."
Swarzak's career track record is mostly out of the bullpen. He's made 28 starts and a total of 161 appearances. In just more than 400 innings entering Wednesday's start, Swarzak had a 4.44 ERA and 245 strikeouts against 115 walks. (That's a rate of 5.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9.)
2. Swarzak faced 18 batters, topping his previous high this season of 14, which he achieved in three innings of long relief at the end of April. He struck out a pair of batters to end of the fifth, one swinging and one looking. He hit 93 mph with his fastball as the strikeout pitch in both cases, which showed he still had velocity even with his pitch count around 70.
3. Shortstop Eduardo Nunez made a fine sprawling catch on a line drive up the middle to end the third inning, which stranded a runner on third base. Nunez got to his feet slowly but jogged off the field remained in the game.
Swarzak called it the "play of the game."
4. MLB announced during Wednesday's game that the Twins received a competitive balance pick after the second round of the 2015 first-year player draft. That might not sound like a big deal, but the pick allows the Twins to spend more money in the pool to sign the first 10 rounds of draft selections. Perhaps more importantly, the pick can be traded, unlike other draft picks.
For more on the pick and the process, here's the story.
5. Oswaldo Arcia homered Wednesday, a good sign for the young slugger who has been in and out of the lineup and has struggled at the plate this season.
The Indians shifted Arcia to pull the ball to the right side of the infield in the fourth inning. He hit a ground ball to the left side instead, and busted out of the box in pursuit of a double, since the ball would be slow to get to the left fielder.
Arcia rounded first ready to hit the brakes, but the left fielder bobbled the ball as he attempted to field it and Arcia got it going again to slide in to second base ahead of the throw.
In his next plate appearance, he hit a home run to right field off Trevor Bauer's 95 mph fastball in the 6th inning.
In his final plate appearance, he worked to a 2-0 count in the eighth inning. He appeared to be looking for a fastball and he got one. He hit it hard but pulled it just foul. When a hitter is slumping, it seems like he'll get a pitch to hit and foul it back. Arcia got his barrel on the 96 mph fastball and was actually ahead of the heat, but pulled it just foul. He then grounded out into the shift in short right field.
Wednesday's plate appearances could mean he's more on the ball. For a day, anyway. We'll see if it continues.