August 2014

How September call-ups fit into Tigers roster

The reinforcements are coming. But can they help the Tigers through the final four weeks of this division race?

The optimistic answer is yes. As the 19-inning loss in Toronto showed, every little bit can make a big difference in a close game, and the Tigers are likely to have a slew of them down the stretch. The realistic answer is that there’s a limit.

Steven Moya can’t make up for a hobbled Miguel Cabrera, and it’s not fair to think that he could. After all, he hasn’t played above Double-A ball, and he had a 161-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio there.

Moya can, however, give an opposing manager something to think about when he looks down the Tigers lineup in the late innings and debates whether to throw in a right-handed specialist to face, say, Rajai Davis.

“He brings power,” Brad Ausmus said. “He brings that threat off the bench to hit the ball 450 feet, and he can hit it to all fields. Opposing teams, opposing managers have to be aware of that. Even if he doesn’t actually get into a game, you have to know that he’s there.”

That’s kind of the theme on the positional players who are being called up, including catcher James McCann. If the Tigers saw them as potential starters down the stretch in a playoff race, they would’ve been called up by now.

McCann, in particular, is interesting, given his ability to hit left-handed pitching (.342 average at Triple-A Toledo). He has been praised for his work handling a pitching staff, and Kyle Ryan noted he kept a book on opposing hitters in Toledo to guide him on calling a game.

Starting out, at least, he appears to be the third catcher the Tigers traditionally call up for September. That said, Ausmus liked what he heard about him from Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish.

“LP really likes him,” Ausmus said, “says we won’t be disappointed in any way with how he works with pitchers. He takes a lot of pride in the defensive side of the game. He’s very solid behind the plate.”

Hernan Perez, who was up for the stretch run last year, appears to be in line for a similar utility infield role this time around, though it’ll be interesting to see if the Tigers give the right-handed hitter a spot start at short at some point (he hit .290 off righties this year with the Hens).

“Hernan Perez is a very versatile player,” Ausmus said. “He had a good year in Toledo. He can play anywhere in the infield.”

Ausmus remembers what he saw from Tyler Collins in limited playing time last year. He seemed to be the trickiest of the decisions, and it might well have hinged on Andy Dirks’ status trying to rehab from back surgery.

“If Dirks was here, I don’t know for sure, but there’s a possibility that one of the left-handed outfielders would not have been called up,” Ausmus said. “I don’t know that for sure.”

On the potential role, Ausmus said, “He doesn’t have quite the raw power that Moya has, but he has power. He can run a little bit, so he gives you that option of power and a little speed.”

Ausmus also noted that Collins could be useful as a defensive replacement in the corner spots.

As for the pitchers, it’s pretty straightforward, at least for now. Though the Tigers called up three pitchers who have started for them, they have one spot to fill. For now, that goes to Kyle Lobstein, coming off his six quality innings against the Yankees last Thursday.

Lobstein will start Tuesday in Cleveland. His spot comes up again next Sunday night against the Giants on ESPN. Whether Lobstein fills the spot likely depends on how he fares Tuesday.

“Lobstein’s the fifth guy right now,” said Ausmus. “We’ll see how Lobber, how Kyle throws and we’ll go from there.”

Ray and Ryan become relievers for now. That could free up Blaine Hardy to be used in a more versatile role, beyond long relief.

Sunday’s lineups: Tigers at White Sox

Brad Ausmus didn’t wait before deciding on giving Miguel Cabrera the day off. He’s not sitting him for a stretch, but he considers him a day-to-day situation.

Unless the matchup dictates otherwise, Ausmus said, look for Don Kelly to start at first base most days when Cabrera does not. He’s there today, with Victor Martinez at DH.

The White Sox traded Adam Dunn to Oakland this morning, so their offense will have one less slugger for Rick Porcello. Andy Wilkins gets the start at first base, with Jose Abreu at DH. Leury Garcia starts at shortstop with Alexei Ramirez off.

TIGERS (career numbers off Jose Quintana)

  1. Rajai Davis, CF (9-for-23, 2 doubles, HR, walk, 4 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (4-for-14, double, walk, 5 K’s)
  3. Torii Hunter, RF (6-for-20, 5 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (6-for-15)
  5. J.D. Martinez, LF (1-for-5, triple, walk, K)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (2-for-8, 3 K’s)
  7. Don Kelly, 1B
  8. Eugenio Suarez, SS (0-for-1)
  9. Bryan Holaday, C (1-for-5, walk, K)

P: Rick Porcello

WHITE SOX (career numbers against Porcello)

  1. Adam Eaton, CF (1-for-3, triple, K)
  2. Carlos Sanchez, 2B
  3. Jose Abreu, DH (1-for-3, HR)
  4. Avisail Garcia, RF (5-for-10, K)
  5. Conor Gillaspie, 3B (9-for-20, double, HR, 2 K’s)
  6. Dayan Viciedo, LF (6-for-26, double, HR, walk, 2 K’s)
  7. Andy Wilkins, 1B
  8. Tyler Flowers, C (0-for-11, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  9. Leury Garcia, SS (1-for-7, 4 K’s)

P: Jose Quintana

Ausmus: Sitting Cabrera for a stretch is an option

For now, Miguel Cabrera is day-to-day for the Tigers with his balky right ankle, which was bothering him well before he tried to beat out an infield single in the fourth inning Saturday night. It’s not yet clear if Cabrera will sit Sunday, because Cabrera didn’t want to be ruled out before seeing he how feels in the morning.

“As much as we use [the phrase] day-to-day, he literally is day-to-day,” Brad Ausmus said. “Some days he comes in and feels really good. Some days he comes in and it’s a little sore.”

And yet, the situation is serious enough that Ausmus said he has talked with Cabrera about sitting — not just for a day, but for a stretch of games.

“I’ve talked to him about that,” he said. “We talked about that in Detroit a couple days ago, so it’s a possibility. But this thing comes and goes. Prior to today, the last couple days, he said it felt really good. And then today it flared up again. Although we discussed it, I don’t know if four or five days would do anything, because sometimes he comes in from sleeping overnight and feels good.

“We really want Miggy in the lineup because he’s such a valuable part of the team, such a good player, and he’s just a presence being in the lineup. We obviously need him to be healthy, too, so it’s such a delicate balance. He’s pretty honest with me on how he feels. …

“I said to him, ‘If we think it’s necessary, we can do this.’ But he kind of balked at that.”

Cabrera referred all questions to Ausmus and head athletic trainer Kevin Rand, which is consistent with what he has done since the All-Star break.

Ausmus said he weighed whether to start Cabrera at first base until less than an hour before game time Saturday night. When Cabrera felt good taking swings and moving around, Ausmus wrote him in. If he hadn’t felt good, Ausmus said, he would have DH’ed.

“He’s not averse to DHing,” Ausmus said, “but generally speaking he would rather be in the field. … From my perspective, if Miggy tells me he’s OK, and we’ve got a young guy, a contact pitcher, on the mound [Saturday night with Kyle Ryan], I’d rather have Miggy at first for his defense.”

Saturday (Game 2) lineups: Tigers at White Sox

After some speculation that the Tigers might give Cabrera the night game or DH — or completely off — he’s in his usual spot at first base. The changes are Alex Avila behind the plate, Don Kelly at third in place of Nick Castellanos, Andrew Romine at short for Eugenio Suarez, and Ezequiel Carrera in the outfield in Torii Hunter’s place. Rajai Davis moves to leadoff, with Carrera batting ninth.

The White Sox put Paul Konerko at first base, Dayan Viciedo in left field, Adrian Nieto behind the plate and Leury Garcia at third.


  1. Rajai Davis, LF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. J.D. Martinez, LF
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Don Kelly, 3B
  8. Andrew Romine, SS
  9. Ezequiel Carrera, CF

P: Kyle Ryan


  1. Adam Eaton, CF
  2. Alexei Ramirez, SS
  3. Jose Abreu, DH
  4. Avisail Garcia, RF
  5. Dayan Viciedo, LF
  6. Paul Konerko, 1B
  7. Carlos Sanchez, 2B
  8. Adrian Nieto, C
  9. Leury Garcia, 3B

P: Chris Bassitt

Saturday (Game 1) lineups: Tigers at White Sox

Brad Ausmus says he doesn’t have a set plan on how he’ll settle his lineup for Game 2 (it’ll depend in part on how the opener goes), but his Game 1 lineup against Chris Sale is fairly predictable. Bryan Holaday gets the start at catcher (left-handed hitters are batting .150 off Sale this year). Rajai Davis is back in the lineup in center.

The only change in the White Sox lineup from last night is that Jose Abreu will DH the day game, giving Adam Dunn a start at first base. Abreu had two errors last night, but he likely would’ve DHed one of these games regardless.

TIGERS (career numbers against Sale)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (5-for-17, HR, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (5-for-20, double, triple, HR, walk, 4 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (6-for-24, 2 HR, 6 walks, 5 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (13-for-25, 3 doubles, 2 HR, walk, 3 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, LF (2-for-10, 4 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-6, 3 K’s)
  7. Bryan Holaday, C (1-for-2, K)
  8. Eugenio Suarez, SS (0-for-2, 2 K’s)
  9. Rajai Davis, CF (3-for-8, double)

P: Max Scherzer

WHITE SOX (career numbers off Scherzer)

  1. Adam Eaton, CF (2-for-8, 2 walks, 8 K’s)
  2. Alexei Ramirez, SS (7-for-54, 2 doubles, 5 walks, 7 K’s)
  3. Jose Abreu, DH (2-for-13, double, 3 K’s)
  4. Adam Dunn, 1B (10-for-47, 3 HR, 5 walks, 23 K’s)
  5. Avisail Garcia, RF (2-for-6, triple, HR)
  6. Conor Gillaspie, 3B (3-for-15, double, HR, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  7. Alejandro De Aza, LF (11-for-40, double, HR, 5 walks, 12 K’s)
  8. Tyler Flowers, C (2-for-8, walk, 5 K’s)
  9. Carlos Sanchez, 2B

P: Chris Sale

Friday’s lineups: Tigers at White Sox

The forecast suggests the Tigers and White Sox should be able to get this game in tonight before the rains arrive. Saturday is much more questionable, which makes a timely game all the more important for these guys.

Ezequiel Carrera gets the start in center field tonight against White Sox starter Scott Carroll, who’s allowing a .300 (77-for-257) average to left-handed hitters. Considering right-handed batters are hitting .289 off him, this is not exactly a massive difference in splits. It is, however, an opportunity to get Carrera some at-bats.

On the White Sox side, Avisail Garcia gets to face his old club tonight for the first time all year in this injury-shortened season of his.


  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Torii Hunter, RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. J.D. Martinez, LF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. Alex Avila, C
  8. Eugenio Suarez, SS
  9. Ezequiel Carrera, CF

P: Justin Verlander

WHITE SOX (career numbers against Verlander)

  1. Adam Eaton, CF (2-for-7, double, triple, walk, 2 K’s)
  2. Alexei Ramirez, SS (18-for-67, double, HR, 2 walks, 9 K’s)
  3. Jose Abreu, 1B (4-for-9, 2 HR, 4 K’s)
  4. Adam Dunn, DH (7-for-33, double, 3 HR, 3 walks, 14 K’s)
  5. Avisail Garcia, RF
  6. Conor Gillaspie, 3B (2-for-9, double, walk, K)
  7. Tyler Flowers, C (3-for-15, 2 HR, 3 walks, 4 K’s)
  8. Alejandro De Aza, LF (6-for-28, triple, 2 HR, 2 walks, 8 K’s)
  9. Carlos Sanchez, 2B

P: Scott Carroll

Ortega designated to make room for Reed

Jose Ortega looked like an upside reliever in the Tigers system not that long ago, a harder-throwing, high-strikeout reliever who had flashes of nasty stuff. His Major League stints, however, have been less impressive. With the Tigers out of injured players to put on the 60-day DL (sorry, but Anibal Sanchez isn’t going there, at least not yet) and out of positional prospects to designate, they had to make a tough choice  on who they could afford to lose to make room for Evan Reed.

Exit Ortega, whose contract was designated for assignment on Friday.

Ortega had some outstanding early numbers at Triple-A Toledo, but his season turned south down the stretch. Whether that had anything to do with not getting a midsummer call amidst the parade of relievers shuffling up to Detroit isn’t clear. In any case, he had a 4.78 ERA and a .406 OBP allowed from June 19 on, which pretty much separated him from Justin Miller.

Ortega’s only appearance as a Tiger this year was the game in which Anibal Sanchez left early with injury. Ortega gave up four runs over 1 1/3 innings without giving up a base hit, thanks to five walks.

Kyle Ryan gets call for Saturday doubleheader

Kyle Ryan began the year trying to show Tigers player development folks he could make the jump from the pitcher-friendly Class A Florida State League to the Eastern League. He got his chance at Triple-A Toledo less than four weeks ago after injuries and trades sapped some organizational depth.

Now, he’s going to get his shot in the big leagues. After some very good starts for the Mud Hens, Ryan is going to get the call to make the spot start Saturday against the White Sox in Chicago.

The Tigers announced the move Thursday. In so doing, Brad Ausmus said he knows little about him besides the numbers and the glowing recommendation of Tigers personnel.

“He’s left-handed,” manager Brad Ausmus said in summary of his knowledge on him. “I haven’t heard too much about him at this point. I do know he’s been throwing the ball well as of late.”

Kyle Ryan went from a 12-game winner at Class A Lakeland last year to mercurial starter at Double-A Erie this spring. Then he found a hot stretch at Triple-A Toledo after being promoted a month ago. He’s 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts at Toledo so far, allowing six earned runs on 21 hits over 33 innings with five walks and 20 strikeouts.

Those outings include 7 1/3 innings of two-run ball in his Triple-A debut on Aug. 2, seven scoreless innings against Lehigh Valley six days later, eight strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings against Indianapolis Aug. 14, seven innings of one-run ball against Columbus Aug. 20, and six innings of one-hit ball three days ago against Louisville.

Ryan got the call over Buck Farmer, who made two spot starts for the Tigers this month but was knocked out in the second inning of his start in last Saturday’s doubleheader at Minnesota.

Ryan was already on turn for a Saturday start for Toledo. Instead, he’ll match up against whoever the White Sox call up for their spot starter. As of now, the matchup is supposed to be the nightcap, with Chris Sale and Max Scherzer dueling in the day game.

The Tigers will have to make room on the 40-man roster for Ryan. And unless they put Sanchez on the 60-day disabled list, effectively ending his season, they’ll have to designate somebody for assignment to make room.

Ryan will be the 12th Tigers pitcher to make his Major League debut this season. He will also be the 11th different pitcher to start a game for Detroit this year, compared with just six last year and 10 in each of the two seasons before that. They used 11 starters in 2010, including spot starts for Phil Coke, Eddie Bonine and Alfredo Figaro.

Lobstein Day lineups: Tigers vs. Yankees

Kyle Lobstein’s first Major League start coincides with Derek Jeter’s (likely) last game at Comerica Park. If Jeter sends another line drive into right field, Lobstein will be the 930th different pitcher to give up a hit to the future Hall of Famer.

TIGERS (career numbers vs. Hiroki Kuroda)

  1. Rajai Davis, CF (6-for-19, double, HR, K)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (3-for-17, HR, 2 walks, K)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (6-for-15, double, 2 HR, 2 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (1-for-5, K)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-6, K)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-3, 2 K’s)
  7. Don Kelly, LF (1-for-3)
  8. Alex Avila, C (2-for-9, HR, 2 K’s)
  9. Andrew Romine, SS (1-for-3, HR, K)

P: Kyle Lobstein


  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Derek Jeter, SS
  3. Martin Prado, 2B
  4. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  5. Carlos Beltran, DH
  6. Brian McCann, C
  7. Chase Headley, 3B
  8. Brett Gardner, LF
  9. Zelous Wheeler, RF

P: Hiroki Kuroda

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Yankees

Three weeks ago, Shane Greene faced a Tigers lineup without Miguel Cabrera or Torii Hunter starting and shut it down on five singles over eight innings with five strikeouts, saddling Rick Porcello with a 1-0 loss at Yankee Stadium. Porcello got his revenge Tuesday night. Now the Tigers will field their regular lineup against Greene at Comerica Park, hoping to earn David Price a win in his first outing since taking a loss on a one-hitter with an unearned run at Tampa Bay.

TIGERS (numbers off Shane Greene)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (2-for-4, K)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (1-for-3)
  5. J.D. Martinez, LF (0-for-2, walk)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (0-for-2, walk, 2 K’s)
  7. Alex Avila, C (0-for-2, walk)
  8. Eugenio Suarez, SS
  9. Rajai Davis, CF (0-for-4, K)

P: David Price

YANKEES (career numbers vs. Price)

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF (17-for-52, 5 doubles, 2 triples, HR, 2 walks, 6 K’s)
  2. Derek Jeter, SS (19-for-63, 3 doubles, 2 HR, 8 walks, 8 K’s)
  3. Martin Prado, 2B (4-for-9, double, HR, 3 K’s)
  4. Mark Teixeira, 1B (11-for-54, 2 doubles, 3 HR, 5 walks, 5 K’s)
  5. Carlos Beltran, RF (2-for-13, 4 K’s)
  6. Brian McCann, DH (5-for-12, 3 HR, walk, K)
  7. Chase Headley, 3B (0-for-4, 2 K’s)
  8. Brett Gardner, LF (2-for-20, 4 walks, 5 K’s)
  9. Francisco Cervelli, C (0-for-4, 2 K’s)

P: Shane Greene