Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers at Twins

Cameron Maybin moves down to the ninth spot in the Tigers batting order today as Erick Aybar takes his 4-for-10 history against Kyle Gibson up to second, where he batted for much of last week before Maybin came back from the disabled list Sunday. Maybin said after his two-run single Sunday that his thumb still hurts, including when he swings, so batting lower could also be a way to conserve his swings.

Justin Upton hasn’t faced Gibson before, since Gibson hasn’t faced the Tigers since last year, but he’s 15-for-35 against Minnesota this season. J.D. Martinez has a very good history against Gibson, and he’s 30-for-68 in August. Gibson, for his part, threw a complete-game victory over Atlanta his last time out, allowing three runs on eight hits with three walks and six strikeouts.

Anibal Sanchez will try to build off the momentum of his no-hit bid last week against Kansas City. He has had quality starts in his last five meetings with Minnesota dating back to June 2014, including 10 strikeouts over six innings of three-run ball last month at Comerica Park. He’ll face a Twins lineup that scored six runs over three games against the Royals over the weekend, including an 0-for-12 series for Joe Mauer. Miguel Sano is hitless in his last 16 at-bats.

Gameday | TV: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, MLB Gameday Audio

tigerslogoTIGERS (career numbers vs. Gibson)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (9-for-21, double, HR, 3 walks, 2 K’s)
  2. Erick Aybar, SS (4-for-10)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (5-for-15, double, HR, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (4-for-20, double, 3 walks)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (8-for-19, double, 2 HR, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
  6. Justin Upton, LF
  7. Casey McGehee, 3B
  8. James McCann, C (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
  9. Cameron Maybin, CF

P: Anibal Sanchez

twinslogoTWINS (career numbers off Sanchez)

  1. Brian Dozier, 2B (2-for-23, 2 walks, 6 K’s)
  2. Jorge Polanco, SS
  3. Joe Mauer, 1B (7-for-29, 2 walks, 6 K’s)
  4. Trevor Plouffe, 3B (4-for-21, HR, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
  5. Max Kepler, RF (0-for-2, walk, K)
  6. Miguel Sano, DH (1-for-3, double, 2 K’s)
  7. Eddie Rosario, CF (0-for-3, 3 K’s)
  8. Juan Centeno, C
  9. Danny Santana, LF (6-for-14, 4 K’s)

P: Kyle Gibson

The Fulmer innings conservation plan begins

Michael Fulmer made his Major League debut a little less than four months ago, on a Friday night in Minnesota. Had he stayed on turn in the Tigers rotation, he’d be on track to return to Minnesota to face the Twins on Thursday afternoon. Obviously, as we’ve chronicled for a while, that’s not happening.

With today’s off day, two starters — Anibal Sanchez and Matt Boyd — will get an extra day of rest before their start against the Twins. Daniel Norris and Justin Verlander move up a day and pitch Thursday and Friday against the Twins and Angels, respectively. The team will wait until Saturday, the day they need a fifth starter, to send Fulmer back to the mound against the Angels at Comerica Park.

It’s a way to buy Fulmer extra rest without actually pulling him out of the rotation or, as the Blue Jays are doing with Aaron Sanchez, optioning him to the minor leagues for a brief spell. And depending on how aggressively the Tigers want to push Fulmer back, it could save him two starts’ worth of innings by the end of the regular season compared to keeping him on turn the rest of the way.

Part of that difference depends on the next couple weeks and how the Tigers use their next off-day. It’s next Thursday, before the Tigers begin a big three-game series at Kansas City. It’s also five days after Fulmer faces the Angels on Saturday. If the Tigers want to use that off-day to push Fulmer back again, they could wait until Sept. 6, the following Tuesday, before pitching him again on nine days’ rest. If they used the next off-day to push him back once more, he would pitch again a week later, Sept. 13, against the Twins at home.

Go down the calendar, map out the off-days and how long the Tigers can wait before needing a fifth starter, and Fulmer could end up with just six starts the rest of the way, including two of the last three against Cleveland. If he were to average six innings a start, that would be 36 more innings to his current total of 141 between Detroit and Toledo, or 177 innings total for the season. That would be a 42 percent increase from his 124 2/3 innings pitched in the minor leagues last year.

If the Tigers kept him on turn next week and had him face the Royals on Sept. 2 to open the series in KC, however, he would not be in position to be pushed back on a couple of other off-days in September. He’d be in line for seven starts the rest of the season, still facing the Indians twice and White Sox and Twins once, but with the KC start added in.

That would still save Fulmer innings compared to if the Tigers had simply not pushed him back at all and had him face Minnesota this Thursday and go from there. He would have been in line for eight starts the rest of the season, including the Oct. 2 regular season finale at Atlanta.

All of these are theoretical scenarios. Brad Ausmus said Friday they’ve mapped out the rotation through next Thursday’s off-day with the pitchers they currently have, so they haven’t necessarily decided on the Kansas City series yet. That also doesn’t include injured starters Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Pelfrey, either of whom could give Ausmus an opportunity to skip Fulmer for a full turn if he so chooses.

Zimmermann is expected to make three rehab starts for Triple-A Toledo, beginning Friday and culminating on Labor Day, Sept. 5. If the Tigers were to bring him back the following weekend against Baltimore, they could conceivably buy Fulmer a turn off and set him up for the Cleveland series the following weekend. The same could go for Pelfrey, who has to throw a simulated game this week in Minnesota before his rehab schedule is set. He won’t have enough time left in the Triple-A schedule to get three rehab starts, but he could get two. If the Tigers want to be sure to hold Fulmer under 170 innings, using one of the returning starters to skip a turn is one way to get there.

The other factor, of course, is what happens if the Tigers fall out of contention before the final week of the season. When the Tigers clinched a playoff berth with a week to go in the 2006 regular season, Verlander didn’t pitch in any of the final six games, giving way to a Zach Miner spot start in the final weekend. The Tigers could simply play it by ear and see how the race unfolds before planning out Fulmer’s closing stretch.

Sunday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Red Sox

Cameron Maybin felt good enough taking batting practice Saturday that he told manager Brad Ausmus that he felt ready to return. After a few at-bats in Jordan Zimmermann’s simulated game Sunday morning, the Tigers gave him the go-ahead, activating him from the 15-day disabled list. Dixon Machado, who hasn’t started since the Erick Aybar trade, was optioned to Triple-A Toledo to make room.

Meanwhile, Victor Martinez gets a day out of the lineup, which coupled with Monday’s scheduled off-day will give him two days of rest ahead of the upcoming series at Minnesota. Miguel Cabrera gets a day at DH, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia starting at first base.

On the Red Sox side, big lefty Henry Owens gets a spot start with Eduardo Rodriguez injured.

With the Red Sox involved, today is a TBS Sunday afternoon broadcast, for those of you watching outside of Michigan.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, TBS, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, MLB Gameday Audio

tigerslogoTIGERS (career numbers off Henry Owens)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (2-for-3, 2 doubles)
  2. Cameron Maybin, CF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, DH
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-1, walk)
  5. Justin Upton, LF
  6. Casey McGehee, 3B
  7. James McCann, C (0-for-1, walk)
  8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 1B
  9. Erick Aybar, SS

P: Justin Verlander

bostonlogoRED SOX (career numbers vs. Verlander)

  1. Dustin Pedroia, 2B (2-for-24, walk, 3 K’s)
  2. Xander Bogaerts, SS (3-for-9, double, 2 K’s)
  3. David Ortiz, DH (11-for-34, 4 doubles, 2 HR, 5 walks, 10 K’s)
  4. Mookie Betts, RF (0-for-7, K)
  5. Hanley Ramirez, 1B (2-for-8, walk, K)
  6. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF (1-for-3, 2 walks)
  7. Sandy Leon, C (0-for-2, K)
  8. Travis Shaw, 3B (1-for-5, double, walk, 3 K’s)
  9. Andrew Benintendi, LF

P: Henry Owens

Saturday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Red Sox

Justin Upton returns to the Tigers lineup after three games, including a total game off Friday night. He returns amidst a 1-for-31 skid, but with some success in limited at-bats against Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz. Andrew Romine makes his fourth consecutive start in center field, while Erick Aybar makes his third consecutive start at shortstop, this one against the lefty.

Gameday | TV: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, MLB Gameday Audio

tigerroarlogoTIGERS (career numbers vs. Pomeranz)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (0-for-3, K)
  2. Erick Aybar, SS (2-for-10, 2 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (1-for-1, 2 walks)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (2-for-2, double)
  6. Justin Upton, LF (2-for-7, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  7. Casey McGehee, 3B
  8. James McCann, C (0-for-2, K)
  9. Andrew Romine, CF (1-for-2)

P: Daniel Norris

redsoxlogoRED SOX (numbers against Norris)

  1. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  2. Xander Bogaerts, SS (1-for-2)
  3. David Ortiz, DH (1-for-3, HR, K)
  4. Mookie Betts, RF
  5. Hanley Ramirez, 1B (2-for-2, double)
  6. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF (1-for-2, K)
  7. Aaron Hill, 3B
  8. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  9. Bryan Holaday, C

P: Drew Pomeranz

Friday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Red Sox

The fact that Tyler Collins pinch-ran for Miguel Cabrera was a pretty good sign that Collins wasn’t going to miss a few days as feared. He’s back in the Tigers lineup against former teammate Rick Porcello, who makes his first start at Comerica Park since being traded to Boston two years ago.

Justin Upton, meanwhile, has one more day out of the starting lineup to clear his head and work on his swing mechanics with Wally Joyner and David Newhan. Brad Ausmus has said he’d like to get him a complete day off, but late-game situations have led to him entering the last two games as a replacement for Collins and a pinch-runner for Victor Martinez.

Gameday | TV: MLB Network, FSD, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, MLB Gameday Audio

tigerpitcherlogoTIGERS (career numbers off Porcello)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (9-for-17, 2 doubles, triple, K)
  2. Erick Aybar, SS (5-for-27, double, 3 walks, 5 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (0-for-6, walk, 2 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (2-for-3, K)
  6. Tyler Collins, CF
  7. Casey McGehee, 3B
  8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C (1-for-5, 2 K’s)
  9. Andrew Romine, CF

P: Michael Fulmer

oldredsoxlogoRED SOX (numbers vs. Fulmer)

  1. Dustin Pedroia, 2B (1-for-3, HR)
  2. Xander Bogaerts, SS (1-for-3, HR)
  3. David Ortiz, DH (0-for-3, K)
  4. Mookie Betts, RF (1-for-4, triple, K)
  5. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF (0-for-3)
  6. Sandy Leon, C (1-for-2, double)
  7. Hanley Ramirez, 1B
  8. Brock Holt, 3B (1-for-3)
  9. Andrew Benintendi, LF

P: Rick Porcello

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Royals

Miguel Cabrera returns to the Tigers lineup after missing Tuesday’s game with a strained left biceps. He’s in his customary spot, while Erick Aybar makes his Tigers debut at shortstop and bats second.

On the flip side, Justin Upton gets a day out of the lineup amidst a 1-for-30 slump that has dropped his average from .241 on Aug. 8 to .226, his lowest level in two months. Tyler Collins shifts from center field to left, while Andrew Romine gets the start in center against Yordano Ventura. Steven Moya is available to hit off the bench, who appears to be his primary role after the Tigers optioned lefty Blaine Hardy to Triple-A Toledo to make room for Aybar on the 25-man roster.

The Royals give Salvador Perez a game out of the lineup. He’s 4-for-20 for his career against Anibal Sanchez, who will try to show the form he cultivated in starts here last homestand rather than the form that yielded four home runs last Friday at Texas.

Gameday | TV: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, MLB Gameday Audio

tigers1957logoTIGERS (career numbers vs. Ventura)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (8-for-23, double, walk, 2 K’s)
  2. Erick Aybar, SS
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (5-for-16, double, walk, 5 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (5-for-22, 2 HR, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (5-for-13, 2 doubles, 5 walks, 3 K’s)
  6. Tyler Collins, LF (3-for-11, walk, 2 K’s)
  7. Casey McGehee, 3B
  8. James McCann, C (1-for-8, K)
  9. Andrew Romine, CF (2-for-9, walk, 3 K’s)

P: Anibal Sanchez

royalsbigrlogoROYALS (career numbers off Sanchez)

  1. Paulo Orlando, CF (3-for-6, double, K)
  2. Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B (0-for-1)
  3. Lorenzo Cain, RF (7-for-27, double, HR, K)
  4. Eric Hosmer, 1B (10-for-34, 3 doubles, HR, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  5. Kendrys Morales, DH (5-for-18, 2 doubles, 3 walks, 4 K’s)
  6. Alex Gordon, LF (5-for-18, double, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
  7. Alcides Escobar, SS (9-for-33, HR, 5 K’s)
  8. Drew Butera, C (1-for-5, HR, K)
  9. Raul Mondesi, 2B

P: Yordano Ventura

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Royals

No Miguel Cabrera in the Tigers lineup tonight as he deals with a left biceps strain. Brad Ausmus said he had to convince Cabrera that an day of caution was the best course. Jarrod Saltalamacchia starts at first base over Andrew Romine. Tyler Collins starts in center against left-hander Danny Duffy, but he’ll bat ninth in the lineup. Essentially, it’s a start for defensive purposes, though Mike Aviles is 5-for-18 off Duffy. Casey McGehee moves up to second, as he did Saturday against Cole Hamels.

The Royals lineup has a lot of history against Justin Verlander. His 30 strikeouts of Alex Gordon are the most by any active pitcher against an active player in the Majors at this point, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Gameday | TV: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, MLB Gameday Audio

tigerpitcherlogoTIGERS (career numbers off Danny Duffy)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (5-for-23, double, 2 HR, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  2. Casey McGehee, 3B
  3. Victor Martinez, DH (9-for-28, double, 2 HR, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-14, HR, 2 walks, 8 K’s)
  5. Justin Upton, LF (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
  6. James McCann, C (2-for-11, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
  7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 1B (1-for-1, HR)
  8. Dixon Machado, SS (0-for-2, K)
  9. Tyler Collins, CF (1-for-5)

P: Justin Verlander

royalsscriptROYALS (career numbers vs. Verlander)

  1. Paulo Orlando, CF (2-for-6, double, triple, K)
  2. Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B (0-for-5, walk, 4 K’s)
  3. Lorenzo Cain, RF (9-for-30, 2 doubles, HR, 6 K’s)
  4. Eric Hosmer, 1B (19-for-74, 5 doubles, triple, HR, 5 walks, 14 K’s)
  5. Kendrys Morales, DH (13-for-40, 4 doubles, 2 HR, 11 K’s)
  6. Salvador Perez, C (23-for-49, 8 doubles, 2 HR, 6 K’s)
  7. Alex Gordon, LF (17-for-83, 5 doubles, 2 HR, 12 walks, 30 K’s)
  8. Alcides Escobar, SS (14-for-73, 4 doubles, 2 walks, 7 K’s)
  9. Raul Mondesi, 2B

P: Danny Duffy

Monday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Royals

Weather permitting, Dixon Machado will return to the Tigers lineup tonight against Ian Kennedy, who has put up 19 1/3 innings of two-run ball over his last few starts but has never earned a win over Detroit. Miguel Cabrera and Ian Kinsler have owned Kennedy in small sample sizes. Casey McGehee has not, but all but one of his at-bats against Kennedy happened in 2014 or earlier.

In case anyone forgot over the last few weeks, Salvador Perez is 16-for-39 with four doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs in as many games off Tigers pitching this season.

Gameday | TV: ESPN, FS Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, MLB Gameday Audio

tigerroarlogoTIGERS (career numbers vs. Ian Kennedy)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (7-for-12, 4 doubles, HR, K)
  2. Tyler Collins, CF (0-for-2)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (5-for-12, 2 doubles, triple, 2 walks)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (3-for-12, K)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-3, K)
  6. Justin Upton, LF (3-for-11, HR, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
  7. Casey McGehee, 3B (1-for-12, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
  8. James McCann, C (0-for-2)
  9. Dixon Machado, SS

P: Daniel Norris

sluggerrrrROYALS (career numbers off Norris)

  1. Paulo Orlando, CF
  2. Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B
  3. Lorenzo Cain, RF (2-for-3, double)
  4. Eric Hosmer, 1B (1-for-3, double)
  5. Kendrys Morales, DH (0-for-4, walk)
  6. Salvador Perez, C
  7. Alex Gordon, LF
  8. Alcides Escobar, SS (1-for-3, triple)
  9. Raul Mondesi, 2B

P: Ian Kennedy

Amidst talk of limits, Michael Fulmer just keeps pitching

The debate continues of whether and how the Tigers should watch Fulmer’s innings. Fulmer’s response is to keep delivering innings worth watching.

“He’s making it increasingly difficult to keep his innings down,” manager Brad Ausmus deadpanned.

Games like Sunday are why Ausmus and Tigers management are having to think outside of innings on limits with regards to Fulmer’s workload. This is the same organization where Rick Porcello pitched eight innings only once as a rookie and didn’t get a shot at a complete game until 2014, his final season in Detroit. But when Michael Fulmer finished his eighth inning Sunday, Ausmus said, he had no thoughts of taking him out.

Why would he? Fulmer had gone eight innings in just 94 pitches. He not only had a good chance at his first professional shutout, he had an outside chance at a Maddux, a shutout in less than 100 pitches.

“After I came out of the eighth, I just did my normal thing and sat down,” Fulmer said, “and Brad never came and got me. So the mindset was just [on] staying focused and go back out for the ninth and try to get a win for the team.”

Said Ausmus: “I didn’t even think twice about it.”

He was not thinking about it, by all indications, when Nomar Mazara singled to lead off the inning on Fulmer’s 99th pitch.

“I looked back at the dugout to see if Brad was coming out, and he wasn’t,” Fulmer admitted. “So I was like, ‘All right, let’s get a ground-ball double play here. That’ll save a few pitches.’ Wasn’t able to do that. I didn’t make things any easier by falling behind I think on every guy that inning. But the defense played great.”

Tyler Collins caught Shin-Soo Choo’s line drive for the second out, but the key was Ian Desmond, who had a 3-0 count and the chance to push Fulmer further when Fulmer got back into the at-bat and put him away with a slider to chase.

“I get to 3-0 and I’m [thinking], ‘Well, he’s probably not swinging,'” Fulmer said. “I just threw strike one. He took the two-seam down and the umpire called it a strike. From there, he wasn’t going to go down looking.”

Ausmus wasn’t taking him after the single, but he said later he had in mind that Carlos Beltran — the fourth batter of the inning — was going to be his last. At 110 pitches, Fulmer needed two more to retire him.

That put Fulmer at 120 innings in Detroit this season. Add in his Triple-A Toledo work before the call-up, and he’s at 135 1/3 innings combined this season. He threw 124 2/3 innings last year.

Now comes the aftermath. Fulmer’s next turn in the rotation comes Friday against the Red Sox, whose team president, Dave Dombrowski, pulled off the trade to bring Fulmer to Detroit. After that, he’ll likely get a longer rest.

“We have an off-day coming up [next] Monday, and there’s a pretty good chance we’ll do something in terms of moving where he pitches,” Ausmus said. “[Pitching coach] Rich Dubee will sit down and look at it and map it out.

“We’re going to have to do something, push him back, skip him, something, at some point. If he keeps pitching like this, we might have to do it more than once, because we’d like to have him around all the way through.”

The trick with that, the Tigers say, is that the innings are coming so easily for him. He’s averaging 15.14 pitches per inning, the 13th-lowest average among qualified Major League starters. He averaged 12.4 pitches per inning Sunday.

“Like I said before, we don’t really have a hard cap,” Ausmus said. “I think his body type could handle a little bit more of an increase than a normal guy could. And again, I know he threw 112 pitches, but really, he doesn’t have very stressful innings very often. He’s usually pretty low pitch count. There’s something to be said for that.”

Said Fulmer: “All I know is I feel good right now. I can’t control the future. I don’t know how I’m going to feel in the future. I could feel this good at 200 innings, who knows, but all I can do is control the present and keep pitching every fifth day and hopefully staying healthy every fifth game.”

Sunday’s lineups: Tigers at Rangers

Andrew Romine gets the start at shortstop, while Tyler Collins returns to center field against A.J. Griffin.

Gameday | TV: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, MLB Gameday Audio

tigers1957logoTIGERS (career numbers vs. Griffin)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (2-for-15, walk, 2 K’s)
  2. Tyler Collins, CF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (6-for-10, double, 2 HR, K)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (2-for-4, walk)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-7, walk, 3 K’s)
  6. Justin Upton, LF (0-for-1, walk, K)
  7. Casey McGehee, 3B
  8. James McCann, C
  9. Andrew Romine, SS (0-for-7, 2 K’s)

P: Michael Fulmer


  1. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
  2. Ian Desmond, CF
  3. Carlos Beltran, DH (0-for-3, 2 K’s vs. Fulmer)
  4. Adrian Beltre, 3B
  5. Rougned Odor, 2B
  6. Jonathan Lucroy, C
  7. Mitch Moreland, 1B
  8. Jurickson Profar, SS
  9. Nomar Mazara, LF

P: A.J. Griffin