Bruce Rondon is going to stick in Toledo for now. He’s just no longer doing so on a rehab assignment. The Tigers activated their hard-throwing right-hander from the 15-day disabled list and immediately optioned him to the Mud Hens, where he’ll try to work through the struggles that marked his rehab stint there over the past few weeks.
Rondon joined the Hens on rehab May 21 after spending the first month and a half of the season on the DL with bicipital tendinitis. From there, the results have been mixed. While Rondon has shown himself to be healthy, which is the biggest issue, he has not shown consistent effectiveness. He has given up 10 earned runs on 15 hits over 8 2/3 innings with five walks and nine strikeouts. He realistically had two truly good, clean outings in nine appearances.
That doesn’t mean the Tigers have given up on Rondon, but he has work to do to get back to the Tigers bullpen. For all the importance he has carried to Detroit’s relief hopes, he still has barely a half-season of Major League experience under his belt, and that was two years ago.
The move means that for now, the Tigers are sticking with a three-lefty bullpen for their upcoming series against the Reds, Yankees and Indians, all of whom have left-handed hitters to match up. Tom Gorzelanny, Blaine Hardy and just-recalled Ian Krol appear safe as a trio for at least the next week or two.
Nick Castellanos gets a day out of the lineup amidst an 0-for-9 slump and a 3-for-15 homestand. Andrew Romine gets the start at third base over Josh Wilson. Bryan Holaday, having finishing hobnobbing with the stars such as Sir Richard Branson, gets the start at catcher.
Meanwhile, Francisco Lindor is supposedly in transit to Detroit this morning, but he’s not in the lineup. Perhaps Detroit really did pick a good weekend to close Interstate 75 near the ballpark. Mike Aviles is back at short.
TIGERS (career numbers off Corey Kluber)
- Anthony Gose, CF (1-for-3, HR, 2 K’s)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (4-for-18, triple, walk, 4 K’s)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (19-for-33, 2 doubles, 4 HR, 2 walks, 6 K’s)
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF (4-for-10, double, HR, 2 K’s)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (5-for-12, double, HR, K)
- Tyler Collins, DH
- Bryan Holaday, C (2-for-6, 3 K’s)
- Andrew Romine, 3B (1-for-4, walk, 2 K’s)
- Jose Iglesias, SS (0-for-4)
P: Alfredo Simon
INDIANS (career numbers off Big Pasta)
- Jason Kipnis, 2B (3-for-11, double, walk, 2 K’s)
- Carlos Santana, 1B (4-for-14, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
- Michael Brantley, LF (10-for-15, 4 doubles, walk)
- Brandon Moss, RF (1-for-7, 2 K’s)
- David Murphy, DH (4-for-9, double, 2 walks)
- Yan Gomes, C (0-for-5)
- Giovanny Urshela, 3B
- Michael Bourn, CF (4-for-9, 3 K’s)
- Mike Aviles, SS (2-for-6, walk)
P: Corey Kluber
Same as yesterday.
TIGERS (career numbers off Carrasco)
- Rajai Davis, DH (3-for-12, double, triple, 2 K’s)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (7-for-19, 3 doubles, walk, 4 K’s)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (8-for-21, double, HR, 3 walks, 5 K’s)
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF (1-for-3, walk, K)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (4-for-13, double, HR, 2 K’s)
- Nick Castellanos, 3B (3-for-8, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
- James McCann, C (0-for-2)
- Jose Iglesias, SS (2-for-3, K)
- Anthony Gose, CF
P: Justin Verlander
INDIANS (career numbers off Verlander)
- Jason Kipnis, 2B (3-for-34, double, 6 walks, 13 K’s)
- Carlos Santana, 1B (9-for-44, double, 5 HR, 6 walks, 9 K’s)
- Michael Brantley, LF (18-for-54, double, triple, 3 walks, 7 K’s)
- Brandon Moss, RF (5-for-21, double, 2 HR, 3 walks, 11 K’s)
- David Murphy, DH (10-for-33, double, triple, 5 walks, 7 K’s)
- Yan Gomes, C (6-for-16, 2 doubles, walk, 3 K’s)
- Giovanni Urshela, 3B
- Michael Bourn, CF (12-for-33, 2 doubles, 4 walks, 10 K’s)
- Mike Aviles, SS (6-for-26, double, 2 K’s)
P: Carlos Carrasco
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.