VerHagen passes test in big jam

Brad Ausmus has seen plenty of relievers in seventh-inning jams this season. He had not seen Drew VerHagen, who had pitched in close games but not with a lead in the balance in the seventh inning or later. His first chance at a hold was a big one, at least in terms of leverage.

With the bases loaded, one out in the seventh inning and Miguel Sano due up in a 4-1 game, Ausmus had VerHagen ready with the idea of giving a chance. He had veterans Al Alburquerque and Neftali Feliz available, but he went with the rookie. In most any other Tigers September, he doesn’t get the chance. With Detroit in a situation to look toward the future, especially in the bullpen, it was the right time.

For a converted starter who has admittedly thrived on the adrenaline of relief situations, it was a nice test.

“I’d say a little bit, with the game being close and bases loaded,” VerHagen said. “But I was just trying to keep it simple, hopefully get a ground ball. … Keep doing what I’ve been doing, pounding my fastball down in the zone.”

His first-pitch curveball up and in had Ausmus a little worried, but he gathered himself, got two ground balls and got two outs. He also gave up two runs. Those came on the first ground ball, a Miguel Sano shot that passed just to Nick Castellanos’ left-hand side for a two-run single, drawing Minnesota within a run and putting the potential tying tally at second base.

It was a hard-luck tally for a pitch VerHagen executed. Then again, considering what Sano has done with other fastballs this season when ahead in the count, it could’ve been much worse.

“I feel like I made a good pitch and the result wasn’t exactly what I wanted,” VerHagen said, “but I couldn’t really control the result. So I just got back up there and I knew my defense would have my back, and I did the same thing.”

The recovery process, he said, was quick.

“I wasn’t really too worked up because I knew we still had the lead,” he said. “We had a one-run lead and I needed to make a pitch and get out of the inning.”

This time, it was Trevor Plouffe. Again, VerHagen got into a 2-1 count. Again, he executed a 94 mph fastball and induced a ground ball. This time, it went to shortstop Andrew Romine, starting an inning-ending double play.

Thus, two days after VerHagen earned his first Major League win, he converted his first save situation into his first hold. Time will tell what it means, especially for next season. But with Detroit’s relief corps due for a makeover, the Tigers can do all of it with free-agent signings and trades. At some point, they’re going to need options from within the organization, something they’ve struggled to produce over the years. If VerHagen can fill a middle relief role, it would be one less role Detroit would have to shop to fill.

The bigger test, of course, would be closing, and Bruce Rondon got that when his two-run lead became one with a Joe Mauer RBI double putting the potential tying run at second base. He threw 17 consecutive fastballs to start the outing, and 32 in a row counting Monday night, before throwing three sliders to Sano, who took the first and went down swinging at the last two.

12 Comments

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Well,if fans want homegrown options, they need to have patience.Very few players beome All Stas out of the gate. The season is over. It is a spring training and game scores dont matter at all

True. True. True and true. Given the choice though, I still prefer a win over a loss. Can’t get passed that simple fact. Illinoifan, regarding Romine, I went out to my yard,climbed a tree, and raised my hand. You probably couldn’t see it due to the earth’s curvature. I would have him on my team for sure. The safety squeeze bunt last night plus his versatility and excellent defense make him valuable. I think it was Rich who described him as a Ramon Santiago clone. Andrew might have a stronger more outgoing personality, and therefore maybe a stronger clubhouse presence.

I kinda had given up on Bruce but not so sure. He’s a big guy who throws upper 90’s with a rather easy delivery. With his body type, he could hold up for more years than these smaller guys who come up throwing 100 but burn out after 3 or so seasons. His problem is control which is linked to confidence and concentration. He’s young for a young guy. He might just be a guy who’s slower to develop but will last longer once he gets it. I say continue to see what he can do, especially with the luxury of pitching under the current situation.

VerHagen indeed passed the test. 2 ground balls. Unfortunately tagged with allowing 2 inherited runs to score. Had the ground ball been a few inches closer to Nick it could have instead been a DP. That’s just luck. Alex comes through again. Was there even a doubt? In all a very good game. With some SP this team is still as good as most.

Change most to anybody.

it seems going for college relievers high in the draft hasn’t really worked for Tigers. a couple have been used as trade chips (Knebel, Ruffin) and one had some short lived success (Ryan Perry). despite the increased specialization in the pen, the best approach seems to draft starters, when their ascent to majors stalls, put them in the pen, perhaps they can be an asset there. guys like Andrew Miller, Furbush, Alex Wilson, even Zumaya were starters early in their minors careers.

they have been hurt by guys they expected to get something from (Andy Oliver, Casey Crosby) who could not transition once they hit the wall. they’ll probably be looking at Farmer and Ryan more as relieving options in the next few seasons.

Matt Dery ‏@dery1051 · 32m32 minutes ago
Castellanos very candid just now on @DSports1051. Says Victor and some guys might still not be over being booed before Gm 3 last year.

So there seems to be more to this than we think?
I remember the Yankees playing through a torrent of boos in 2012 as they got swept by Detroit. What’s the matter with people?

they boo in Boston like crazy.

Thank you, Marty2, for your extra effort in favor of Romine. Maybe you just need a taller tree.

Any time Illinoi fan. I cannot relate to fans who boo their own players. Other teams’ players fine. It’s in fun and expected.

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