After six long months recovering from surgery on one of his fingers, Ervin Santana returns to the big leagues on Wednesday evening.
Minnesota’s ace from a year ago took longer than was originally expected to bounce back from a procedure to remove a calcium deposit floating around in the middle finger on his pitching hand. After throwing 86 pitches in Triple-A the other day without any problems, he’s ready to test it out against the big boys.
The Twins are small underdogs on the road as they try to complete the sweep in Toronto.
Santana admits his finger is sore when he throws and that he can’t touch the mid-90s, like he did with regularity last season when he won 16 games, posted a 135 ERA+ and made the all-star team for the second time in his career. Down on the farm, he was throwing his fastball 89-90 MPH instead.
The idea that this is very much a test run for Santana, in his mind, leaves me a bit troubled to want to back Minnesota straight-up in this game. That said, the other eight players in the field and all the guys in the dugout are going to have a little extra energy at the site of their beloved ace back in uniform and delivering the ball.
So I expect run support to come in for Santana, as much as I expect the Jays to get ahold of a couple Santana fastballs in his first start back. Sam Gaviglio, Santana’s opponent on Wednesday, pitched into the eighth inning in his last start but that one came against Baltimore. In his three outings prior, he failed to get through five innings each time, going just more than nine innings, combined, and allowing eight earned runs.
The Twins ought to feel good, not just that Santana is back, but that after back-to-back wins coupled with consecutive losses by the Indians, that they are still just eight games back in the AL Central. The Indians have putzed around all season and left the door open for a team like Minnesota to make the race interesting, if it can catch fire.
The Twins are capable of as much with some of the bats in that lineup. Santana may not be perfect this evening, but he’s got a team of guys waiting to back him up when they get their turn to do the damage to the other guy. In a game that feels like both sides should inflict some damage, I’d always rather have the over.
Play: Over 9.0 (-120)