Tigers calling up Ferrell, VerHagen for relief help
The Tigers are about to get a bullpen shakeup, beginning with converted starter Jeff Ferrell and continuing with Drew VerHagen. Whether it’s a matter of fresh arms for a taxed bullpen, or something longer-term, remains to be seen.
The Tigers are giving Ferrell his first shot at the big leagues, purchasing his contract from Triple-A Toledo. Credit John Wagner of the Toledo Blade with the first report. The Tigers have not officially announced the move, but multiple sources have confirmed, as did Ferrell to The Blade.
“I don’t know what to expect. I was pretty shocked. It hasn’t hit me yet [that I’m going up to #Tigers].” ~Ferrell (1 of 2)
— JWagnerBlade (@jwagnerblade) July 3, 2015
Also coming up is Drew VerHagen, the former starting prospect who converted to full-time relief pitcher a month ago. He got the call from Double-A Erie.
The corresponding moves aren’t yet known. Detroit has an open spot on the 40-man roster with Joe Nathan on the 60-day disabled list, and VerHagen is already on there from his spot start last summer. Still, somebody has to go off the 25-man roster, and the report that Melvin Mercedes is being promoted from Double-A Erie to take Ferrell’s spot in Toledo suggests it’s not simply a matter of optioning somebody else down.
The Tigers could decide to make a larger change with a veteran reliever such as Joba Chamberlain or Tom Gorzelanny. That should become clear by Friday afternoon. What’s clear now is that the Tigers are dipping deeper into their farm system for help, now including two guys who were starters on their way up the system before converting to relief this season.
From the time Ferrell became a full-time reliever, he became a very good one. Add in the fact that the Tigers desperately needed bullpen options, and he moved quickly. After missing most of April, he took over closer duties at Erie and dominated for a month and a half, saving 12 games while allowing five runs on 21 hits over 27 innings with four walks and 35 strikeouts.
Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski saw Ferrell convert a two-out save at Akron on June 20 during a tour of the farm system. A week later, Ferrell was in Toledo, earning the save in his Triple-A debut June 29. That ended up being his only appearance.
VerHagen’s conversion came a month ago after he opened the season on the disabled list. He had three struggling performances at Toledo before finding some success in Erie, allowing two runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings with two walks and five strikeouts.