Danny Salazar has some reverse splits going on this season, with stingier numbers against left-handed hitters (24-for-112, 47 strikeouts) than right-handed batters (30-for-118, 34 K’s). That explains in part the start for Rajai Davis. That said, J.D. Martinez (1-for-9 with seven strikeouts against Salazar) is sitting in favor of Tyler Collins.
All of this, of course, depends on the weather allowing this game to be played. That was in serious doubt looking at the forecast as of last night, but it appears now that the weather will give them a shot to get this in.
TIGERS (career numbers off Salazar)
- Rajai Davis, DH (2-for-7, walk, K)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (5-for-12, HR, 2 walks, K)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (6-for-17, double, HR, 8 K’s)
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF (0-for-3, K)
- Tyler Collins, RF
- Nick Castellanos, 3B (4-for-11, 2 doubles, HR, 3 K’s)
- James McCann, C (0-for-1)
- Jose Iglesias, SS (1-for-7, walk, K)
- Anthony Gose, CF (1-for-4, walk, 3 K’s)
P: David Price
INDIANS (career numbers off Price)
- Jason Kipnis, 2B (6-for-25, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
- Carlos Santana, 1B (7-for-20, 4 doubles, 4 walks, 5 K’s)
- Michael Brantley, CF (4-for-17, walk, 2 K’s)
- Ryan Raburn, LF (7-for-21, double, HR, 3 walks, 6 K’s)
- Nick Swisher, DH (12-for-37, 2 doubles, HR, 10 walks, 6 K’s)
- Yan Gomes, C (0-for-9, 4 K’s)
- Brandon Moss, RF (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
- Giovanny Urshela, 3B
- Mike Aviles, SS (6-for-25, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
P: Danny Salazar
Two months after Shane Greene seemed headed for the All-Star Game with a 3-0 record and one earned run over his first three starts, he’s now headed for Toledo. The Tigers optioned their young right-handed sinkerballer to Triple-A as he tries to work through the struggles that have hounded him for the past month.
The move, which makes room for lefty reliever Ian Krol’s call-up from Toledo, comes nearly eight weeks after Greene beat the White Sox at Comerica Park to improve to 3-0 in his first three starts as a Detroit Tiger. He had allowed one earned runs in 23 innings, the best three-start beginning to a season by a Tiger since 1945.
Greene now has the counterbalance. After five runs on seven hits over just three innings against the Cubs Wednesday night, Greene has allowed 16 earned runs on 21 hits over nine innings in his last three starts. That includes a five-homer, five-out start against the Angels two weeks ago, a first in modern Major League history.
“Pitchers are like hitters. They can go through ups and downs,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “They’re usually not as dramatic. It’s not unheard of for guys to pitch and struggle, or vice versa. Three outings does not make a season, 32 outings does, so I wouldn’t rush to judgment on anything.”
That said, the Tigers set a precedent with sending down young starters before. Max Scherzer was struggling in his first season as a Tiger in 2010, capped by a three-homer demise against the Red Sox in mid-May, when the Tigers optioned him to Triple-A Toledo to work things out. Scherzer made two starts for the Mud Hens, tossed 15 innings of one-run ball, struck out 14 Oakland Athletics over 5 2/3 innings in his return a couple weeks later, and never went back.
Greene’s spot in the rotation comes up again Tuesday night at Comerica Park against a Reds, a low-average, high-power club that boasts left-handed hitters in Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and former Tiger Brennan Boesch. With Greene down, left-hander Kyle Ryan – who pitched seven innings of two-run ball last Friday against the White Sox – appears likely to start in his place for now.
The Tigers will need to make another roster move after Friday’s game to make room for Justin Verlander’s return from the disabled list. That is expected to fall on a reliever, with young right-hander Angel Nesbitt a strong candidate.
Back on the blog after a couple days of pulling double-duty to handle draft and game stuff on the site. Also back, apparently, is lefty Ian Krol, recalled by the Tigers from Triple-A Toledo to fill a role in the bullpen.
The team did not announce a corresponding roster move, saying that will be announced on Friday. But given the last couple days, they have a few different ways they can go:
- If the Tigers decide that Shane Greene needs a stint in the minors, they can move Kyle Ryan back into the rotation in Greene’s spot and use Krol to fill the bullpen void.
- If the Tigers decide a change is needed in their lefty relief corps, they could go lefty for lefty. Tom Gorzelanny gave up a hit and a walk without retiring a batter last night, extending his struggles to eight runs on six hits and five walks over 2 2/3 innings in his last four outings. He’s giving up a .303 average to left-handed hitters this season, along with a .342 average to righties. Blaine Hardy has had a good run of pitching lately and would seem unlikely to head out.
- If the Tigers simply want another lefty reliever against Cleveland — remember, they called up Blaine Hardy for this very purpose a few games into the season when Joe Nathan went on the DL — they could make a swap, either for Greene or a right-handed reliever (Angel Nesbitt would seem most at risk here). Detroit doesn’t need a fifth starter until next Tuesday.
Keep in mind, the Tigers will have another roster move coming after Friday’s game to activate Justin Verlander from the disabled list in time for his start Saturday night.
As for Krol, the 25-year-old has done a lot to earn his return since being sent out on April 22. In 14 appearances, he has allowed two runs on nine hits over 15 2/3 innings with seven walks and 18 strikeouts. His first runs allowed came June 7, but he followed them up with two solid innings Wednesday night. Most important, left-handed hitters batted just 2-for-22 against him with no extra-base hits, no walks and 10 strikeouts.
- Anthony Gose, CF (0-for-4, 4 K’s)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (1-for-9, HR, K)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (3-for-9, HR, 3 K’s)
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF (0-for-4)
- J.D. Martinez, RF
- Tyler Collins, DH
- Nick Castellanos, 3B
- James McCann, C
- Jose Iglesias, SS
P: Shane Greene
- Dexter Fowler, CF
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Miguel Montero, C
- Chris Coghlan, LF
- Starlin Castro, SS
- Mike Baxter, DH
- Chris Denorfia, RF
- Addison Russell, 2B
P: Jake Arrieta
Josh Wilson is 0-for-14 lifetime against Jon Lester, but he’s coming off a hot weekend series against the White Sox, and he bats right-handed. He gets the start at third base, with Nick Castellanos at DH.
TIGERS (career numbers vs. Jon Lester)
- Rajai Davis, CF (12-for-41, 2 doubles, 2 triples, HR, 4 walks, 10 K’s)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (7-for-32, 2 HR, 3 walks, 4 K’s)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (14-for-27, 4 doubles, HR, 9 walks, 3 K’s)
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF (1-for-11, walk, 3 K’s)
- J.D. Martinez, RF
- Nick Castellanos, DH (2-for-5, HR)
- James McCann, C
- Josh Wilson, 3B (0-for-14, walk, 6 K’s)
- Jose Iglesias, SS (1-for-6, double, 3 K’s)
P: Anibal Sanchez
CUBS (career numbers vs. Sanchez)
- Dexter Fowler, CF (1-for-6, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B (2-for-6, walk)
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Miguel Montero, DH (3-for-17, double, HR, 3 K’s)
- Chris Denorfia, LF (2-for-4, 2 walks)
- Starlin Castro, SS (1-for-8, 2 walks, K)
- Junior Lake, RF
- David Ross, C (4-for-15, double, HR, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
- Addison Russell, 2B
P: Jon Lester
The tidal wave of All-Star votes from Royals fans not only swept Eric Hosmer past Miguel Cabrera for the lead among AL first basemen this week, it built Hosmer a cushion. Cabrera now trails Hosmer by about 618,000 votes after holding a 70,000-vote lead a week ago.
With that, the Royals now hold the vote lead in seven of nine starting positions, and the Tigers hold none. Jose Iglesias stands second in voting at shortstop, but trails Alcides Escobar by more than 2.1 million votes. Yoenis Cespedes ranks seventh among AL outfielders, where the top three get spots. Cespedes trails third-place Alex Gordon by about 1.96 million votes.
There’s clearly a surge of support among Royals fans at work coming off their American League pennant. That said, there are also signs of a drop in support for Cabrera. His 2,933,108 votes reflect a gain of about 810,000 votes from last week’s update. By comparison, he gained just under a million votes from the first balloting update two weeks ago to last week. Hosmer’s support, by comparison, swelled from 2,053,237 votes last week to 3,551,005 votes as of Monday.
Here’s how the race has unfolded over the three balloting updates:
- May 26 (initial update): Cabrera 1,347,351 votes, Hosmer 1,101,738 votes
- June 1: Cabrera 2,123,752, Hosmer 2,053,237
- June 8: Hosmer 3,551,005, Cabrera 2,933,108
Unless Cabrera gets his lead back, the Tigers are likely to go without an All-Star starter for the first time since 2009. Jose Iglesias stands second in voting at shortstop, but trails Alcides Escobar by more than 2.1 million votes. Yoenis Cespedes ranks seventh among AL outfielders, where the top three get spots. Cespedes trails third-place Alex Gordon by about 1.96 million votes. Ian Kinsler has fallen to fifth among AL second basemen, where former Tiger turned Royal Omar Infante is closing in on reigning AL batting champ Jose Altuve.
For all the encouragement on Justin Verlander’s rehab start, there was a flip side Saturday night in Toledo against Columbus. It was Bruce Rondon’s outing, which gave a lot more reason for concern than his last few outings.
After debating a call-up earlier this week, the Tigers decided to send Rondon back to Toledo for another rehab appearance, stretching him out to two innings. To try to make sure he got those innings, they stretched out his pitch count to 40. He ended up going one-plus innings, facing four batters in his second inning of work without retiring any of them, and giving up four runs on four hits and three walks.
It was a step backward for a reliever whose recent throwing seemingly had him on the verge of returning to Detroit’s bullpen for the first time since September 2013.
“To me, he really struggled,” Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. “As bad as his line looked, it was probably worse than that. … It was a real battle for him tonight.”
Two of Rondon’s three outs came on a double play after he loaded the bases with a hit and two one-out walks in the seventh inning. Clippers catcher Adam Moore lined out to left, and Xavier Avery threw out James Ramsey trying to score from third.
The escape for Rondon proved brief with the top of the Clippers order due up in the eighth. Francisco Lindor tripled and scored on a Michael Martinez singled before Jesus Aguilar homered to left-center. After a Zach Walters walk, Rondon’s pitch count was at 39, and Parrish had to get him, much to his frustration.
“If you consider yourself a big-league pitcher and you’ve got 40 pitches, and you get one inning of work in against a Triple-A club, you’d better be frustrated with it,” Parrish said.
The mechanics were not consistent. All three walks were on changeups out of a lower arm angle, Parrish said. It was a reminder that for all the throwing Rondon has done on his road back, he has had precious little game action.
There has been no indication that Rondon isn’t healthy. His velocity Saturday was more mid-90s than 98-99 mph, according to reports, but he was pitching in a longer outing.
“His velocity is fine. It’s a matter of locating,” Parrish said. “It’s great to throw 98-99, but it still needs to be located.”
The outing gives the Tigers a difficult decision in the coming days. Rondon reaches his maximum 20 days on rehab assignment on Tuesday, after which the Tigers must either make a roster move with him or keep him on the DL and not pitch him. Rondon has minor-league options left, making it possible for the Tigers to keep him at Toledo long-term.
Justin Verlander looked like he was ready for the big leagues in his second rehab start for Triple-A Toledo, where he struck out nine batters over 5 2/3 innings with an unearned run allowed.
While Verlander’s top velocity registered a tick down on the Fifth Third Field radar gun compared to his first rehab start last Sunday at Indianapolis, his command and his secondary pitches were markedly improved. He retired 10 consecutive batters after Indians prospect Francisco Lindor’s single leading off the game, and sent a Columbus lineup swinging and missing at 17 of his 93 total pitches. He threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of 21 batters.
Verlander topped out at 94 miles an hour on his fastball, and sat at 91-92. He stopped short of saying his next pitches would take place in Detroit, but indicated he had accomplished what he wanted.
“I feel like today was the step I wanted to see,” Verlander said afterward. “The biggest thing was getting my pitch count up and also getting some innings, not just three innings but getting up and down a few times.”
Control was much better today. I felt like for the most part, I was able to hit my spots and get ahead of guys and execute my pitches much better.
After lasting just 2 2/3 innings over 79 pitches last Sunday at Indianapolis, Verlander churned through innings after ending his opening frame with a 10-pitch battle and a strikeout-throwout double play. He had an eight-pitch, eight-strike third inning that featured an even split of fastballs and offspeed pitches.
“He looked like he was searching for it a little bit in the first,” Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said, “and then he dropped a 3-2 breaking ball in there for strike three, [catcher Miguel Gonzalez] threw the guy out, and then after that he was spot-on.”
Among Verlander’s strikeout victims was Lindor, one of baseball’s top prospects. After leading off the game with a single, he fanned on a Verlander slider in the fourth inning before fanning on a nasty breaking ball inside in the sixth as Verlander neared his pitch count of 90.
A few pitches later, Verlander showed his Major League form when he bargained Parrish into letting him face an extra hitter.
“He asked if I can get [Jesus Aguilar] out in three pitches, and I said yeah,” Verlander said. “I threw four or five and then told [Gonzalez] we have to go right down the middle, throw one down the middle and hope to get an out. Didn’t get an out, gave up a double, but I didn’t want to end up in another 10-pitch at-bat and throw 95-96 [pitches]. That wouldn’t make LP look good either. So here it is, hit it.”
Aguilar hit a fastball to the fence in left-center for a double on Verlander’s 93rd pitch. Neither Verlander nor Parrish sweated it.
“It’s not my call, but he looked like he was ready today,” Parrish said. “Indy, no. Today, yeah.”
Technically, the Tigers don’t have to make that call for a while. They’re off Monday and Thursday next week, so they could go without a fifth starter for a week. More likely, they could slot him in for next weekend’s series against the Indians at Comerica Park, Friday or Saturday depending on whether they would want to give David Price more rest following his complete game tonight in Chicago.
Regardless, his time in Toledo is likely to be a brief stop. Still, it was memorable. The combination of his start and several promotions, from the Jurassic World uniforms to the Mud Hens’ annual scout sleepover, and the attendance of 13,300 set a new Fifth Third Field record. The Hens auctioned off the themed jerseys after the game; Verlander’s jersey raised $2300 for charity, according to the team. The previous record, according to John Wagner of the Toledo Blade, was $600.
“The jersey’s pretty cool,” Verlander said after his outing. “I don’t think I’ll bid on it, but maybe I’ll get them to make a replica or something.”
Same lineup as last night for another White Sox lefty. This time, it’s John Danks, who pitched the usual 10-hit shutout last Sunday at Houston. Aside from Ian Kinsler (who’s just 8-for-61 with three RBIs over his last 16 games, according to MLB Network research), there aren’t a lot of great numbers for Tigers hitters against Danks, though Josh Wilson does have a double and a sacrifice fly off him.
The White Sox mix things up near the bottom of the lineup. Emilio Bonifacio gets the start in left, while Geovany Soto and his awkward throwing motion starts behind the plate.
Reminder: Tonight is a FOX Network broadcast, not Fox Sports Detroit. Check your local listings to find out which channel that is.
- Rajai Davis, LF (5-for-18, 3 doubles, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (14-for-41, 4 doubles, 4 HR, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (11-for-44, 2 doubles, HR, 7 walks, 5 K’s)
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF (1-for-6, 3 K’s)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (2-for-5, HR, walk, K)
- Nick Castellanos, DH (3-for-6, double, 3 walks, K)
- James McCann, C
- Josh Wilson, 3B (1-for-4, double)
- Jose Iglesias, SS (1-for-6, HR, 2 K’s)
P: David Price
- Adam Eaton, CF (7-for-12, 2 K’s)
- Alexei Ramirez, SS (7-for-33, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
- Jose Abreu, DH (1-for-10, HR, 3 K’s)
- Avisail Garcia, RF (2-for-7, HR, 2 K’s)
- Adam LaRoche, 1B (0-for-9, walk, 2 K’s)
- Gordon Beckham, 3B (3-for-26, 3 walks, 5 K’s)
- Geovany Soto, C (2-for-5, 3 K’s)
- Carlos Sanchez, 2B (0-for-3)
- Emilio Bonifacio, LF (1-for-7, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
P: John Danks
Jose Iglesias’ move to the second spot in the Tigers batting order lasted three games. That said, the Tigers offense didn’t look much different in those few games than the previous week or two, notably with Ian Kinsler in the fifth spot. Yoenis Cespedes, as expected, is in the lineup after leaving yesterday’s game with flu-like symptoms. With his numbers off Jose Quintana, he might have needed to be bedridden to miss that matchup. Rajai Davis gets a similarly favorable matchup in his return from the paternity leave list.
Last but not least, Brad Ausmus gets one more right-handed bat in the lineup against the left-handed Quintana by starting Josh Wilson at third base and DHing Nick Castellanos.
Some pregame stats and tidbits:
- NumberFire released its weekly power rankings of baseball’s hottest and coldest hitters based on runs contributed over league average. Miguel Cabrera is eighth, creeping up one spot from last week. Anthony Gose, meanwhile, is the fourth coldest, based on the biggest drops in efficiency from last week. Considering Gose started 17 of the last 18 games, with one team off-day mixed in, gotta think fatigue has played a part.
- Iglesias has struck out just five times in 76 plate appearances over the last month, good for the fifth-lowest strikeout rate among full-time players in that span according to Inside Edge.
- Miguel Cabrera’s streak of reaching base safely is now at 23 games, longest active streak in the big leagues.
- Actor LeVar Burton is throwing out the ceremonial first pitch tonight. You may remember him from his role playing Ron LeFlore in the TV movie One in a Million from the 1970s. LeFlore spent the final couple seasons of his Major League career with the White Sox after six seasons with the Tigers (he spent a year in Montreal in between).
TIGERS (career numbers off Quintana)
- Rajai Davis, CF (11-for-31, 3 doubles, HR, 2 walks, 6 K’s)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (7-for-23, 2 doubles, walk, 5 K’s)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (9-for-25, 2 doubles, HR, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF (6-for-9, double, 4 HR, walk)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-11, triple, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
- Nick Castellanos, DH (3-for-15, 5 K’s)
- James McCann, C (1-for-2, triple)
- Josh Wilson, 3B (1-for-2)
- Jose Iglesias, SS (1-for-5, double, 2 K’s)
P: Kyle Ryan
WHITE SOX (numbers off Ryan)
- Adam Eaton, CF (1-for-3)
- Alexei Ramirez, SS (1-for-3, double)
- Jose Abreu, DH (1-for-2, walk)
- Avisail Garcia, RF (0-for-3, K)
- Adam LaRoche, 1B
- Melky Cabrera, LF
- Gordon Beckham, 3B
- Tyler Flowers, C
- Carlos Sanchez, 2B (1-for-2)
P: Jose Quintana