In what seems by now like an endless rotation of sick players, guys hitting the disabled list and then the callups to replace those players, former top Twins prospect Anthony Swarzak is returning to the Major Leagues for the first time since 2009. It's been a long time coming, and you might not believe this, but Swarzak is still just 25 years old.
When he was first called up back in '09, we talked about him quite a bit around these parts. Here's my welcome for him, some 23 months ago, and for a short while he was just what the doctor ordered. There was some good and some bad, but over his first eight starts (45.2 innings) Swarzak was more than serviceable. Opponents hit just .247 off him (with a .678 OPS), and he allowed just four homers which really helped to limit his damage en route to a 3.74 ERA. He struck out just 26 and walked 17, but he was getting results at a time when the Twins needed them desperately.
But it all fell apart pretty quickly. He averaged just 3.1 innings per start over his next (and last) four times taking the hill, roughed up for a 14.85 ERA in that period and a 1.386 opponent OPS. He struck out as many hitters as he allowed home runs: eight.
Since then Swarzak has been, at best, a mixed bag in Rochester. He's mixed in some good games, but after spending all of 2010 in triple-A and starting this season there as well he's pitched to the tune of a 6.00 ERA in 132 innings combined. He doesn't have a finished pitch, and even triple-A hitters find him hittable.
"It was better suited for Swarzak than our other options," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had to have somebody for the second game or for Saturday, so instead of doing something silly we just wanted the second game to be one our callups."
Read: at least Swarzak has Major League experience, and we really can't ruin him any further if we're basically sending him to the dogs.
When Swarzak was on his way out of the Twins rotation in August of 2009, it didn't end pretty. But everyone knows that, and nobody better than Swarzak himself.
You might look at this as a death march. You might look at this as something the Twins just have to do because they don't really have any other good choices right now (if you believe Kyle Gibson still needs seasoning). But I guarantee you that Swarzak is looking at this as an opportunity for a little redemption.
We're all behind you, Anthony. Spin a gem.