April 27th, 2014

Tigers-Twins series finale washed out

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On one hand, the lost April on the Tigers schedule continues with their third weather postponement already this season. On the other hand, the overtaxed Tigers bullpen now has two days to recuperate. Either way, Sunday’s series finale between the Tigers and Twins didn’t take long to be called.

As the picture above from the Twins twitter account shows, the weather in Minneapolis is miserable. There’s a 70 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms all day and evening, as well as a wind advisory. With two more Tigers visits to the Twin Cities scheduled for August and September, the two teams have options on when to make this one up. No makeup date was immediately announced.

According to MLive.com, the rainout means everybody gets pushed back. Justin Verlander, who was scheduled to start today, will start Tuesday’s series opener against the White Sox. Max Scherzer will start Wednesday, while Rick Porcello gets pushed back to the Kansas City series.

Before you ask, the rainout does not change the Tigers’ rotation needs with Anibal Sanchez on the DL. They’ll still need a fifth starter no later than May 6, which means they’ll still need two starts out of a replacement before Sanchez can return from the DL on May 12.

What the rainout does is further stretch the gap in games played between the Tigers and the rest of the league. They’ll have back-to-back days without a game for the second time this month. Moreover, they’ll head to Chicago on Tuesday having played just 21 games through the first four weeks of the season. The White Sox, by contrast, are scheduled to play their 26th game of the year today, weather permitting. So will the Red Sox today at Toronto. The Indians will play their 25th game later this afternoon in San Francisco. The Diamondbacks, who opened their season early with the opening series in Australia, will play their 28th game of the year today against the Phillies.

Sunday’s lineups: Tigers at Twins

Alex Avila returns to the Tigers lineup after not starting Saturday’s game with a left shin contusion. On the flip side, Nick Castellanos and Rajai Davis get a day of rest, at least out of the starting lineup. Unless they enter the game later, they’ll have two days off ahead of Tuesday night’s series opener at Chicago. Don Kelly and J.D. Martinez get the start.

As for the bullpen, Jose Ortega is still on the active roster. The only roster move the Tigers announced was Justin Miller being recalled to replace Anibal Sanchez, who was placed on the 15-day DL. There had been signals Ortega might be returning to Triple-A Toledo, but that hasn’t happened at this point. There also have been sightings of Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila and special assistant Jim Leyland (man, that takes some getting used to typing) at Double-A Erie, where Corey Knebel is pitching, but no immediate signs of a call-up.

The way the Tigers bullpen is going, the fast track is there for Knebel to get to the big leagues in the near future. Before that happens, though, the Tigers are going to have to out where he fits, what kind of role he’ll play, and how to get him the regular innings to learn on the fly without getting him so many innings that he wears down. To call him up as an extra reliever for depth makes no sense. If you’re going to call him up to do something like work setup behind Joba Chamberlain and Ian Krol, mixing him in with Al Alburquerque, that’s another matter.

I’m not in Minneapolis this weekend, but I can read a weather forecast, and it’s not good. There’s a 70 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms all day and evening, as well as a wind advisory. With two more Tigers visits to the Twin Cities scheduled for August and September, we’ll see what the Twins decide to do with this one. A rainout could have a huge impact in getting Detroit’s bullpen back in order, as much as they can at this point.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

TIGERS

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Torii Hunter, RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, DH
  4. Victor Martinez, 1B
  5. Austin Jackson, CF
  6. Don Kelly, 3B
  7. J.D. Martinez, LF
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Andrew Romine, SS

P: Justin Verlander

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