August 26th, 2011

Turner terrific in Toledo … what’s next?

Jacob Turner was on an innings limit and a pitch count Friday for Triple-A Toledo in his first start on regular rest since he made his spot start in Detroit. Whether the innings were perfect or not, he wasn’t going to go beyond six, as specified by the Tigers. If he hit the pitch count before then, he would’ve been out.

Instead, he made his innings pretty impressive, going six scoreless on four hits with a walk and six strikeouts. He needed just 66 pitches and 47 strikes, including nine-pitch innings in the fifth and sixth, and first-pitch strikes to 14 out of 22 Buffalo Bisons. His only three-ball count was his only walk, that to Triple-A veteran Valentino Pascucci. Take away that walk, and he had just three other two-ball counts, and two of those ended in strikeouts.

In short, Turner looked like a guy on his way to catching up with the International League.

“Just coming back on five days, I think, made a difference,” Turner said after the game. “My stuff was a little sharper. … Everything was kind of in sync tonight.”

As good as the numbers were, the pitches might have been better. He threw consistently tight, sharp curveballs and got swings and misses. Most of his strikeouts came off that pitch. By my count, only one guy made solid enough contact off of it to get a base hit, and he had to reach for it.

“Really, my last start in Double-A, I think I got a good feeling for it,” Turner said. “And then it just kind of carried over from then on. It’s been a little bit crisper than it had in the past. The break’s been a little bit sharper, and I think that’s helped me get a lot more swing-and-misses with it. It’s been a lot more consistent.”

As Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin put it, Turner was “outstanding.” He was also good enough to probably go for a complete game in 100 pitches or less if not for the innings limit.

The limits set him up for at least one more start, and it won’t be on that extra-long rest. The question now is where that will happen. The plan, Nevin said, calls for Turner to start for the Hens in five days, and Turner said his understanding was the same.

On the other hand, there’s the mystery in Minneapolis, where Tigers manager Jim Leyland has an open spot for a starter on Sept. 1, the day rosters expand. Leyland is giving Justin Verlander an extra day’s rest before his next start Sept. 2 against the White Sox. The Sept. 1 game is a makeup contest against the Royals.

According to Chris Iott of Booth Newspapers, when Leyland was asked about the starter for Sept. 1, his answer was, “Stay tuned.”

Andy Oliver is scheduled to start for the Mud Hens Saturday, which would put him on a timetable where his regular turn would come up again Sept. 1. But he also has had a wild summer, most recent seven innings of one-run ball with nine strikeouts despite five walks.

Keep in mind, when Turner got his spot start for the Tigers in July, he was the scheduled starter for Erie all week until the day before, when he suddenly was scratched. The Tigers had called up Drew Smyly and written him in for the next day before suddenly moving him up a day. The Tigers, meanwhile, had indicated weeks earlier that Turner wasn’t an option to start in Detroit, though that was more about the rotation than about a spot assignment.

Friday: Tigers at Twins

I’m off this weekend, but here’s your lineup for the opener at Target Field. No Brennan Boesch, as expected, due to the thumb. On the flip side, no Joe Mauer for Minnesota.

1. Austin Jackson, cf
2. Magglio Ordonez, rf
3. Delmon Young, lf
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1b
5. Victor Martinez, dh
6. Alex Avila, c
7. Jhonny Peralta, ss
8. Ryan Raburn, 2b
9. Brandon Inge, 3b
P: Rick Porcello

1. Ben Revere, cf
2. Trevor Plouffe, ss
3. Justin Morneau, 1b
4. Michael Cuddyer, rf
5. Jason Kubel, dh
6. Danny Valencia, 3b
7. Rene Tosoni, lf
8. Matt Tolbert, 2b (Nishioka scratched)
9. Drew Butera, c
P: Scott Diamond

Kelly to paternity list, Worth recalled

Another day, another Tiger about to become a dad. This time it’s Don Kelly, who was placed on the paternity leave list Friday while he returns to Detroit to be with his wife. Danny Worth was called up from Triple-A Toledo to take his spot.

No word on how long Kelly will be on the list. Players can be on there for 1-3 days. Miguel Cabrera was on for one day for the birth of his son, Christopher Alexander. He’s scheduled to rejoin the team today from Miami.