Hardy headed up from Toledo
The Tigers have made a move after their bullpen snafu turned what was a 10-run lead Saturday into a save situation. Blaine Hardy is on his way up from Triple-A Toledo. The questions to be answered are why and for whom, neither of which are likely to be cleared up before Sunday morning.
It’s an interesting move, given the pitcher. Chad Smith’s success since his promotion to the Mud Hens at the start of May (1.80 ERA, 17 hits over 20 innings, 2 walks, 18 strikeouts) raised expectations that the right-hander with a mid-90s sinker could be the next man up to try to address the Tigers’ bullpen woes.
However, Hardy had stingy numbers himself (3-2, 2.68 ERA, 35 hits over 47 innings, 13 walks, 53 strikeouts), and he had been stretched out over six starts this season. He’s also left-handed.
Hardy is also more of a known quantity to many Tigers people, having made an impression in Spring Training. That said, he was there as a non-roster invitee, so the Tigers will have to add him to their 40-man roster. That could easily be addressed by moving Luke Putkonen retroactively from the 15-day DL to the 60-day, having already missed nearly two months and due to miss 6-8 more weeks before he can even consider throwing again.
Depending on the return move, the Tigers might not need to open a spot. That part, however, remains a mystery.
The fact that Corey Knebel didn’t even warm up with what was once a 10-run lead Saturday makes him a strong candidate. However, Knebel is one of the few fresh arms the Tigers have after using Evan Reed, Phil Coke, Al Alburquerque and Ian Krol Saturday, so a Knebel move (assuming he’s healthy) wouldn’t make Detroit’s bullpen any more prepared to eat innings.
Though Coke gave up three runs Saturday, he has stranded seven inherited baserunners, seemingly making him a viable option again in situational lefty situations. Hardy is seen more of a general reliever than a situational guy. Fellow lefty Ian Krol told MLive.com he had been dealing with some arm discomfort, but didn’t seem to make much of it. So unless his situation changed in a hurry, he wouldn’t be the move.
Closer Joe Nathan was on the field for pregame batting practice with no sign of injury. So while many have speculated about his arm in the midst of his struggles, he wouldn’t seem to be the move, either.