Wilk optioned, Villarreal called up
Adam Wilk’s stint as Doug Fister’s fill-in lasted three starts, and not a moment longer. After the Mariners roughed up Wilk for six runs over two-plus innings, the Tigers announced following the 9-1 loss that they had optioned Wilk to Triple-A Toledo.
Short-term, the Tigers are using the move to bring in reinforcements for a taxed bullpen, recalling Brayan Villarreal from Triple-A Toledo. But sometime before Monday, the Tigers will have to figure out what they’re doing with the rotation spot.
It’s possible, but unlikely, that Fister could be ready to return for that series opener against the Royals to begin next week’s homestand. Fister is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Thursday, which will be his first mound work in a week, but he has missed nearly three weeks since leaving his season-opening start with his strained left rib cage muscle.
It could be Duane Below, who has spent the season to date in Detroit’s bullpen but competed for a rotation spot in spring training. He pitched six innings last Saturday against the Rangers, so he’s already stretched out. It could be somebody else from Toledo, though Wilk was easily the most effective starter there when they gave him a shot. Casey Crosby has put together back-to-back effective starts for the Hens, while Andy Oliver supposedly looked good his last time out despite five walks in six innings against seven strikeouts.
Leyland did not rule out moving Below out of the bullpen, though he was noncommittal all around.
“We’re just going to have to wait and see what develops,” Leyland said. “I think that he’s settled in there and done a very good job for us. That’s worth a lot. But you just have to weigh your options, and we’re just not ready to do that tonight. I don’t think tonight’s the night to discuss something like that. I think we’ll probably have some discussions in the morning, see what the options are. But he has done very, very well.”
Wilk gave up 10 runs on 21 hits over 11 innings, with the vast majority of that damage coming in his last two starts. To his credit, he did not start trying to pitch around guys and hurt his case with walks, but the quantity of hits hurt him, even if the vast majority of hits didn’t go for extra bases.