Justin Miller reportedly called up from Toledo
The first bullpen transaction of the Tigers’ 2014 season is apparently on the way. Justin Miller was informed after Thursday’s Mud Hens loss that he’s being called up to Detroit, according to John Wagner of the Toledo Blade.
The Tigers aren’t expected to confirm any roster move until Friday. It might not be until then that we learn the return move. Wagner is very good at chronicling the Toledo end of these moves.
It’s possible the Tigers are calling up a fresh arm for the bullpen after using five relievers Thursday afternoon and four Wednesday night (Al Alburquerque, Ian Krol and Joba Chamberlain pitched in both games), all ahead of Drew Smyly’s first start of the season Friday night. While neither manager Brad Ausmus nor pitching coach Jeff Jones had a pitch count set for Smyly when asked Thursday morning, both made it clear they’ll have to be cautious with him since he hasn’t been stretched out as a starter since the end of Spring Training nearly three weeks ago. He threw 51 pitches on April 4 and 49 pitches on April 9.
The Tigers could go a position player short in the bullpen for a day, taking somebody off their bench. If the Angels were starting a lefty Friday, it wouldn’t be hard to envision the Tigers starting Victor Martinez at DH, freeing up Alex Avila to serve as the backup for a night. But with a righty going, Martinez is likely to DH, which means the Tigers would have to bat the pitcher’s spot to move Martinez behind the plate in the middle of a game. They could go short an outfielder.
It’s also possible the Tigers simply decided to make a change in their bullpen mix after watching their relief corps for nearly three weeks. The bullpen struggles have been well chronicled, though Tigers relievers have generally had better fortunes the last couple games. Phil Coke’s struggles have been well-chronicled, but the Tigers have no shortage of lefty relievers at Toledo if they were to go that route.
Miller would be making his Tigers debut after signing a Major League deal with Detroit last fall following his release from the Rangers organization. The hard-throwing 25-year-old had a rough Spring Training, making him an early cut from camp, but has recovered nicely in Toledo. He has thrown 4 2/3 scoreless innings for the Hens on three hits with a walk and six strikeouts.