As a Twins fan, I was alarmed when righthander Alex Wimmers walked all six batters he faced in his first start of the season. Given how he was placed on the disabled list after the game, I have to assume that his wildness didn't come out of nowhere. That said, are there any positive stories of pitchers with extreme wildness coming back to have successful careers?
West Vancouver, B.C.
What have you heard anything about Alex Wimmers' sudden loss of command?
Wimmers was the 21st overall pick in the 2010 draft, in large part because of his ability to throw strikes with three solid pitches. After signing late in the summer, he posted a 0.57 ERA and walked just five batters in four starts at high Class A Fort Myers. His problems this season were totally unexpected.
Wimmers missed a week with a hamstring strain in spring training, and the Twins believe the injury may have affected his arm angle and led to his command woes. They haven't set a timetable for his return and aren't saying much about his struggles, in order to avoid putting any more pressure on him. Minnesota has gone through a similar situation with 2008 supplemental first-rounder Shooter Hunt, who has walked 195 batters in 172 pro innings and hasn't been able to advance past Fort Myers.
The Twins moved quickly to shut down Wimmers—he went on the disabled list with "flu-like symptoms"—and are hoping he can work through his difficulties in extended spring training. He focused on his conditioning and mechanics and went more than a month before facing a batter.
When a pitcher's control disintegrates completely, it usually doesn't come back. The one exception I can think of is Mark Wohlers. He had saved 97 games for the Braves over the previous three seasons before suddenly losing the strike zone in 1998. After three years and a change in organizations, Wohlers returned to effectiveness with the Reds in 2001. Elbow problems ended his career two years later.