Granted Walters was a bit of a known commodity. He pitched seven games for the Twins in 2012, compiling a 2-5 record with a 5.69 ERA. But the Twins' pitching staff was struggling in mid-May this season so they called him up May 25, and there was no indication at the that point that he would do any better than what he was replacing.
But in his first game Walters pitched against the Detroit Tigers on the road and changed that perception quickly. Walters threw six innings, giving up eight hits and two runs on his way to 3-2 win. Coming into the June 16 game at home against Detroit, Walters had compiled a 2-1 record in four starts with a 2.49 ERA.
In his non-decision game against the Phillies, Walters pitched 7 1/3 innings, gave up two runs on six hits with five strike outs in a 3-2 Twins loss, but still earned the praise of his manager.
"Our starter was fantastic," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Some in the organization are taking a little bit longer view on what they are seeing in Walters thus far.
"Last year he showed signs of this; he had some games that were pretty good," Ryan said. "And then he got hurt and came up with a bad shoulder. As we go through the month of June, July, August and September, if he gets 20-plus starts and continues to do what he is doing, that would be a very pleasant surprise, because he's been on and off of rosters. He's been with a couple of different organizations."
In his first four games last season with the Twins, Walters was 2-1 with a .296 ERA -- not that much different than the beginning of this season. Ryan reticence to crown Walters may be warranted.
"I would have to say 'be careful with the small sample,'" Ryan said. "I think we need to strap him out there for a number of starts before we get to the point where we say 'what a pleasant surprise.' To this point, he's thrown the ball about as good as anybody we've got."
Walters, on the other hand, is banking on his present performance. Before the June 16 game against the Tigers, Walters pledged to donate $1,000 to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (matched by the Twins) for every strike out he threw in the game. Walters struck out four (donating $4,000), but he gave up four runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings -- taking the loss.
Walters did not have his best outing of the year, so critics and fans alike will have to heed Ryan's advice and wait for a bigger sample size.
NEXT: White Sox (Dylan Axelrod, 3-4, 4.26) vs. Twins (Mike Pelfrey, 3-6, 6.12)
OF Josh Willingham may be ready to play again on Tuesday after getting a cortisone shot on Saturday night on his sore left knee and skipping Sunday's game against the Tigers. Team officials aren't concerned that the problem can turn into a major injury, but decided to rest Willingham going into Monday's off-day. Willingham has a single and two doubles in his last seven games, dropping his batting average to .211. He still leads the Twins with 10 home runs, two more than Ryan Doumit.
RHP Mike Pelfrey hasn't won a game since beating Cleveland on May 5, but he's pitched well in recent weeks. He's allowed just three runs in each of his last three starts, and pitched seven solid innings last time out on June 12 against the Phillies. Pelfrey's earned run average took a big hit early on when he allowed 19 runs over his last four starts in April. He's managed to lower his ERA to 6.12, the lowest it's been this season since he threw 5 1/3 shutout innings in his season debut against the Tigers.
OF Wilkin Ramirez is in Fort Myers for rehab work, leaving the Twin Cities on Sunday morning. Out for nearly a month because of concussion symptoms, Ramirez on Monday began working out along with the Twins' draft prospects in southeast Florida. Twins general manager Terry Ryan said if Ramirez plays well enough, it would be easy for him to join the Class A Fort Myers Miracle to ratchet up his rehab assignment. Ramirez was batting .244 with five runs batted in when he was hurt in a collision with Josh Willingham while both were going after a fly ball in the Twins' win at Detroit on May 25.
OF Chris Parmelee went hitless and struck out three times in his second straight start on Sunday after riding the bench for four consecutive games. In those four games, Parmelee was a defensive replacement once and pinch-hit three times without getting a hit. Parmelee had managed to lift his batting average to .235 earlier this month before going a dismal 2-for-19 in the Twins' six-game road trip to Kansas City and Washington. Following his size-three collar against the Tigers, Parmelee's batting average is back down to .223.
2B Brian Dozier was the only Twins batter with any kind of success against Doug Fister on Sunday afternoon. His home run leading off the sixth was the Twins' first hit of the day, and their second hit was Dozier's double with two outs in the eighth. Dozier also wound up scoring the Twins' final run of the day. It was Dozier's first multi-hit game since June 2 against Seattle, when he had a single, double and homer in the victory at Target Field. He's had more than one hit in a game just twice since May 7, lowering his batting average to .223.
"I'd make a good pitch, then back it up with two bad ones. It was all day long not locating the ball."—RHP PJ Walters, who allowed nine hits, struck out four and walked three in 5 1/3 innings of Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Tigers.
LF Josh Willingham (knee injury) missed his second straight game on June 16. He sat out the June 15 game and had a cortisone shot in his knee and hopes to be back in the lineup on June 18. GM Terry Ryan says he has no concerns about Willingham's knee.
CF Wilkin Ramirez (concussion) went on the seven-day disabled list May 26. He is no longer experiencing headaches and is running and hitting off a tee. He was sent down to Fort Myers on June 16 and he is going to participate in a mini-camp with a number of the team's new draft choices. Once he is deemed game ready, he will shift across the street to play with the Miracle on an official rehab sometime next week. "He's about ready to go full bore," general manager Terry Ryan said.
RHP Ryan Pressly (sore right triceps) left the June 10 game, and he didn't pitch June 11-13. He returned June 14 and pitched one inning.
CF Aaron Hicks (left hamstring strain) went on the 15-day disabled list June 10.
OF Darin Mastroianni (stress reaction in left ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 16. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 22 after having surgery on a bone chip in his left ankle. His ankle was moved to a walking boot from a cast May 29.
RHP Tim Wood (right rotator cuff strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 24, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 24. He began a rehab assignment in mid-April, but he was shut down May 9.
RHP Kevin Correia
RHP Mike Pelfrey
LHP Scott Diamond
RHP Samuel Deduno
RHP P.J. Walters
LHP Glen Perkins (closer)
RHP Jared Burton
LHP Brian Duensing
RHP Casey Fien
RHP Anthony Swarzak
RHP Ryan Pressly
RHP Josh Roenicke
LHP Caleb Thielbar
DH Ryan Doumit
1B Justin Morneau
2B Brian Dozier
SS Pedro Florimon
3B Trevor Plouffe
INF Eduardo Escobar
INF/OF Jamey Carroll
LF Josh Willingham
CF Clete Thomas
RF Chris Parmelee
OF Oswaldo Arcia