Latest bullpen shuffle: Schlereth back, Ruffin down
Five days after the Tigers called up Chance Ruffin for his first shot with the big club, they sent him back down.
Meanwhile, a month after manager Jim Leyland said four left-handed relievers was really too many for his bullpen, he’s back to four for now.
By optioning Ruffin back to Triple-A Toledo, the Tigers made room for left-hander Daniel Schlereth, who was called back up to Detroit. With the Mud Hens at home this week, Schlereth had just a short drive to get to Comerica Park in time for Friday’s game against the Angels.
It might well be a case for the Tigers bringing up a fresh arm for the bullpen for this weekend after burning through their relief corps Thursday and having Al Alburquerque’s elbow checked out Thursday. Or, it could be a matter of the Tigers needing a left-hander they can count on while David Purcey works out his command issues. The fact that the Angels don’t have a lot of dangerous left-handed hitters would strongly suggest the fresh-arm scenario.
By sacrificing Ruffin’s spot for Schlereth, the Tigers put themselves in an interesting situation with their bullpen. Until Alburquerque is available again, the only right-handers available in Detroit’s bullpen will be setup man Joaquin Benoit and closer Jose Valverde. Granted, Phil Coke has a track record of retiring lefties and righties alike, and Purcey’s numbers are actually stronger against right-handed batters, but the Angels bat six points higher against lefties for the season than they do overall.
Ruffin had an ill-fated major league debut, entering with the bases-loaded in a tie game Monday against the White Sox and ending up with two runs on three hits over 1 2/3 innings. But his two scoreless innings Thursday kept the Tigers close against the Angels until Purcey came in.
Schlereth, meanwhile, fared quite well in Toledo, allowing a run on six hits over 11 2/3 innings with five walks and 18 strikeouts.