Preview: Twins at Tigers
Spencer Turnbull and Stephen Gonsalves spent most of the season moving their way through the minor league chain. With the season winding down, those young pitchers are scheduled to oppose each other at the highest level.
They will take the mound in a Wednesday matinee at Detroit's Comerica Park as the Tigers and Minnesota Twins close out a three-game series.
Turnbull, a 26-year-old right-hander, made his major league debut at Cleveland on Friday when he pitched an inning of scoreless relief. That was a new experience in more ways than one for Turnbull, who started all 90 of career minor league appearances.
Turnbull admitted he was a bundle of nerves during that outing. His right hand was shaking when he returned to the dugout.
"I didn't realize I was shaking that bad," Turnbull told the Detroit News. "I was pretty nervous before my first start in Triple-A, but there were like four times as many people here. This was the most nervous I've been by far."
Turnbull threw mainly fastballs during his spotless 11-pitch stint.
"My only thought in the bullpen was, just make sure I was as ready as I can be," Turnbull said. "I knew I was going to be nervous. I just wanted to make sure I kept my breathing as slow as possible when I took the mound. I took one long look around, took a deep breath and just tried to throw it right down the middle."
Turnbull pitched at four different levels this season before his call-up. He spent most of the year at Double-A Erie, where he posted a 4-7 record and 4.47 ERA in 19 starts. He made two starts for Triple-A Toledo, going 1-1 with a 2.03 ERA.
The Tigers, who have lost the first two games of the series, believe Turnbull could stick at the major league level next season.
"We've always said, this guy has some of the best stuff in this organization," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Gonsalves, 24, has struggled to find his footing in the majors since his call-up last month. He gave up 16 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings in four starts before a much-improved performance in relief Thursday. He held Kansas City hitless and only allowed an unearned run in three innings despite control issues, as he walked four batters.
"My changeup wasn't there for the most part," he told MLB.com. "When your best pitch isn't there, you are kind of looking around and waiting for something to pop up."
Gonsalves (0-2, 9.39 ERA) is considered the organization's top pitching prospect. The left-hander had four strong starts in Double A before getting promoted to Triple-A Rochester, where he posted a 9-3 record and 2.96 ERA in 19 outings (18 starts).
The Twins may elect to start a reliever and bring in Gonsalves early in the game as they did Monday, when Kohl Stewart entered in the second and pitched the next six innings.
Minnesota could be without left fielder Eddie Rosario the rest of the season after he aggravated a quad injury in Monday's opener.
Detroit has a new injury concern in third baseman Jeimer Candelario. He left Tuesday's game early.
"His lower back tightened up on him," Gardenhire said. "He took a swing and felt it. He stayed in the ballgame, said he was fine, and again, the last at-bat, same thing. So we got him out of the ballgame. He's going to get checked out in the morning. Might be a couple days here. That would be the best case scenario."