August 22nd, 2012
Nothing new on Doug Fister’s status for Saturday’s game against the Angels, but at least we have a good idea who will start in his place if he can’t go.
Manager Jim Leyland confirmed Wednesday that left-hander Drew Smyly was pulled from his start at Triple-A Toledo Tuesday night after an inning as a precaution — not for his own health, but for Fister’s situation. If Fister can’t pitch Saturday, Smyly most surely will.
“I would say that’s probably true,” Leyland said.
Fister, who has an adductor strain in his right groin, was scheduled to play catch on Wednesday off flat ground, not off a mound. That won’t be the final determination, but it should give them an idea how much it’s limiting him.
“There’s still some soreness there,” head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. “We’re aggressive, but we have to be smart aggressive.”
Alex Avila returns to the starting lineup after Tuesday off, an interesting decision with Justin Verlander (whom Avila almost always catches) pitching tomorrow afternoon and Aaron Laffey proving particularly tough to left-handed hitters this year. Whether that’s a nod to Avila, who had a comfort level catching Sanchez during his first couple starts for Detroit is an interesting question. Avila is batting ninth.
Andy Dirks and Jeff Baker remain in the corner outfield spots, meaning another day out of the lineup for Brennan Boesch, who hasn’t played since a pinch-hitting appearance Saturday against the Orioles.
- Austin Jackson, CF
- Omar Infante, 2B
- Miguel Cabrera, 3B
- Prince Fielder, 1B
- Jhonny Peralta, SS
- Delmon Young, DH
- Andy Dirks, LF
- Jeff Baker, RF
- Alex Avila, C
P: Anibal Sanchez
The pitching story in Detroit rigtht now is Max Scherzer trying to succeed Justin Verlander for the Major League strikeout crown. For now, at least, the national race also has Stephen Strasburg in it.
While Scherzer’s seven-inning, eight-strikeout performance pushed him past Verlander for the AL strikeout lead and R.A. Dickey atop the Major League leaderboard, Strasburg was simultaneously dealing in Washington, where he struck out 10 Atlanta Braves over six innings of four-hit, one-run ball for his 15th win. Strasburg (183) passed up Dickey (181) for the NL lead, but fell a few short of Scherzer (186).
Scherzer still leads Strasburg in strikeout rate, but barely. Strasburg bumped his rate to 11.33, just behind Scherzer at 11.34. At this point, you have to stretch it out three decimal points to figure out whether Scherzer has a higher rate than Kerry Wood’s mark in 2003 (11.345 for Wood, 11.336 for Scherzer).
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard that the Nationals have a innings range for Strasburg in his first full season following Tommy John surgery. If general manager Mike Rizzo holds to it, it’s difficult to envision Strasburg racking up enough strikeouts to lead the big leagues at season’s end if everyone else has at least two or three extra starts. For now, though, it’s quite a race. He could still beat out Scherzer for strikeout rate if he finishes with at least 162 innings pitched.
And it’s not just Strasburg. Add Felix Hernandez (179) to Verlander, Dickey, Strasburg, Scherzer, and five pitchers sit within 11 strikeouts of each other for the lead. All but Verlander started Monday or Tuesday, and Verlander will pitch Thursday.
Jacob Turner filled the role of Mud Hens starter on call for most of the summer until the Tigers traded him to Florida last month. Adam Wilk did it early this season. Andy Oliver did it for nearly two years. Even Casey Crosby got a shot earlier this season.
Now, is Drew Smyly the next in line?
With Doug Fister questionable for his next scheduled start with a right adductor strain, and Smyly’s start Tuesday night for Triple-A Toledo lasting only one inning, you have to wonder.
It wasn’t a bad inning for Smyly, 13 pitches with no hits, a walk and a strikeout. There were no reports of injury coming out of his start on the road at Lehigh Valley. What it does is keep Smyly’s arm fresh in case the Tigers need him to come back on three days’ rest and start in Doug Fister’s place Saturday against the Angels.
The Mud Hens were rained out in Lehigh Valley on Monday, so there’s no one completely on turn. The only other clear option would be Wilk, who started for Toledo on Sunday and has ample experience with the big club. One problem with Wilk is that the Mud Hens will most likely need him on Friday, and the Tigers might not be sure whether Fister can go by then.
One catch with Smyly, though, is that he hasn’t pitched deep into games since joining the Hens at the end of July. He hasn’t gotten through five innings in any of his five starts since the Tigers optioned him, and his 4 2/3 innings last week marked his first time getting through the fourth.