The Tigers will promote Daniel Schlereth from Triple-A Toledo on Friday to take the bullpen spot previous held by Fu-Te Ni. Word of the move went down after the Mud Hens’ loss to Gwinnett Friday night.
The move makes sense on a few different levels, the most basic being the lefty-for-lefty swap. But Schlereth is more of a high-strikeout lefty; his ratio of 11.57 strikeouts per nine innings ranked fourth among International League pitchers. His walk totals don’t look good for the season, but he has been notably stingy with the bases on balls lately.
Schlereth is 1-2 with a 2.83 ERA in 28 games, walking 26 and striking out 45 over his 35 innings of work. He has been pretty stingy against left-handed hitters (.220 average) and righties (.232) alike. His last five outings have been really strong: 4 2/3 innings, two hits, no walks and four strikeouts — after walking seven in four outings before that. His recent run includes back-to-back solid outings against a strong Indianapolis ballclub earlier this week.
So while his walk totals have been high, give him credit for this: Schlereth can get outs in the strike zone, which is what Jim Leyland wants to see from his relievers. Opponents are hitting just .186 off him for the month.
It’ll be interesting to see how Schlereth is used alongside fellow lefty relievers Phil Coke and Brad Thomas, and what Ryan Perry’s eventual return means for Schlereth. Leyland took responsibility yesterday for misusing Ni compared with last year. Ni had essentially become an innings-filler in some games in recent weeks. But if Coke assumes more of a universal setup role with Joel Zumaya out and Perry still in Toledo, it isn’t difficult to see Schlereth getting some one- or two-batter situations. The Tigers wanted him pitching long in Toledo to start the season, but he’s been more of a single-inning guy lately.