Roster fallout from 19 innings in Toronto
Just arrived in Pittsburgh, and it appears half the Mud Hens bullpen might not be far behind.
The Tigers left Toronto Sunday night with two open roster spots from their Sunday morning DL moves — more on that in a minute — so there figured to be at least two relievers coming to the Tigers’ aid after their 19-inning loss to the Blue Jays. However, John Wagner of the Toledo Blade reports that three relievers were being called up from Triple-A Toledo after the Hens game Sunday night.
Lefty Ian Krol and right-hander Justin Miller are rejoining the Tigers, according to Wagner. Krol just got there a week and a half ago, ironically to get more regular work. Miller spent a couple different stints in Detroit from mid-April to mid-May, regrouped in Toledo and posted very good numbers in late-inning work, including a 1.45 ERA and 23 hits over 37 1/3 innings.
The third reliever, according to Wagner, is minor-league veteran Kevin Whelan, who rejoined the organization this year after being traded to the Yankees in 2006 as a prospect in the Gary Sheffield deal. He has 20 saves for the Hens, having allowed eight runs on 26 hits over 39 innings with 48 strikeouts.
Miller and Krol can simply fill the spots of injured Anibal Sanchez and Joakim Soria. Whelan not only needs a 40-man roster opening (they’re out of long-term injuries to put on the 60-day DL), but three call-ups mean somebody on the current roster would have to be sent down. The logical answer would be one of the relievers who pitched long Sunday and won’t be available for a few days (Blaine Hardy and Pat McCoy both pitched three innings).
If all three are called up at the same time, that gives Detroit at least three relievers available to pitch Monday night. Al Alburquerque, who pitched an inning-plus in two appearances over three games in Toronto, likely makes four. Joba Chamberlain could make five, but he has pitched each of the last two games.
One reliever, either one of these call-ups or somebody else, will likely have to make way for Robbie Ray to be called up for his start in Sanchez’s spot. He’s currently scheduled to start Wednesday. Rick Porcello’s two-plus innings, however, put his Tuesday start in question.
If Porcello starts Tuesday as previously planned or bounces back with an extra day of rest, then the Tigers won’t need to call up another reliever from Toledo. If not, the Tigers likely will have to make yet another move to add a starting pitcher.
The lingering question, and the irony of it all, is going to be how much of this roster shuffle could have been avoided had the Tigers gotten a reliever from Toledo to fill one of the DL spots in time for Sunday’s game. Officially, Detroit made the DL moves Sunday morning, and manager Brad Ausmus said Sunday it was nearly impossible to get a call-up to Toronto in time for the game. Whether the Tigers could have or should have had a call-up ready to move in case is an interesting debate.
“We didn’t think we could get them here,” Ausmus said. “Of course, if we knew we had til 7 o’clock, maybe we would have.”