CEDAR RAPIDS — Consistency for a starting pitcher is taking the baseball every fifth day. Or sixth day, in the case of the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
They employ a six-man rotation to limit innings, not the traditional five-man you see in the major leagues.
Consistency for a starting pitcher is throwing as deep into games as you can. It’s giving your team a chance to win every time out.
It’s Josh Winder.
He is one of three Kernels who will take part in Tuesday night’s Midwest League All-Star Game at South Bend, Ind. First baseman Gabe Snyder also is on the Western Division team, and Chris Williams is the West’s starting designated hitter.
Winder, 22, deserved his selection, and it goes beyond his most basic statistics. Though a 5-1 record and 2.50 earned run average are plenty all-star-ish.
The right-hander has made 11 starts this season and gone five innings or more in all of them. He has two complete games, allowed just 51 hits in 68 1/3 innings and has a WHIP (Walks/Hits to Innings Pitched) of 1.02, which is outstanding.
“Obviously, as a starter, that’s your job, to eat up innings,” Winder said. “Save the bullpen and put your staff in a good position for a series, for a weekend, all that good stuff. We’ve been doing a good job of getting ahead of guys, throwing a lot of strikes early in the count, and I think that shows in how deep I’ve been able to go in games.”
In his final four starts of the half, Winder has gone seven innings three times and six innings once. He won three of those four games, the non-decision coming June 3 against Peoria despite not giving up a run in seven innings.
“When you can rely on a guy to give you six or seven innings every start, help out your bullpen, that’s the epitome of consistency,” Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman said. “He has done a really good job going deep into games, throwing strikes, keeping guys off balance.”
Dinkelman noted that Winder has a good low-90s fastball with carry, a breaking ball and improving changeup. You’ve got to have three good pitches to be a starter.
Winder has that classic pitcher’s body at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds. He is one of the Kernels’ hardest workers, according to his manager, which you’d expect from a guy with his background.
The Richmond, Va., native was a seventh-round draft pick last year of the Minnesota Twins out of Virginia Military Institute.
“You can tell he’s been at a place where he has had some structure and discipline,” Dinkelman said.
“I think I’m just continuing to develop my pitches, my repertoire,” Winder said. “Where to throw it, what sequences to go, how to attack hitters. A big thing for me is being able to find holes in guys’ swings. Going over the scouting reports, spending a lot of time with that, kind of understanding where to attack guys. I think that has been a big help for me, kind of why my numbers are a tick up right now.”
Winder was no slouch in his pro debut last season, going 3-1 with a 3.72 ERA in nine starts for Rookie-level Elizabethton, but this season he has pitched like an all-star. Which he is.
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“A really cool honor,” he said. “Not a lot of people can say they’ve been an all-star in the minor leagues. So it’s definitely an honor, definitely an accomplishment. I look forward to enjoying it, soaking it all in.”
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