Results tagged ‘ Alfredo Figaro ’

Alfredo Figaro to Japan?

Not exactly scalding the hot stove, I know, but credit with the scoop on Tigers pitching farmhand Alfredo Figaro and negotiations for him to join the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Pacific League. Nothing is finalized, but talks are ongoing.

Figaro was kind of an underrated pitching prospect rising through the farm system when the Tigers gave him a shot in 2009. He made two starts that June — one really good, the other very bad — and went back to Triple-A Toledo before coming up in September for some relief work. His ill-fated spot start against the White Sox on the final Saturday of the regular season was highly scrutinized, you might remember, but the Tigers understandably didn’t want to start rookie Rick Porcello or ace Justin Verlander on short rest.

Figaro went 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in eight games for the Tigers this past season, allowing 11 earned runs on 18 hits over 14 2/3 innings. He walked eight and struck out five. With the Tigers’ pitching ranks getting deeper at the upper levels now as more recent draft picks rise up the ranks, Figaro might have reached his ceiling with Toledo.

Will it impact the Tigers? Not really. The main difference will be another rotation spot open for the Mud Hens, where Andy Oliver and Charlie Furbush front what should be a talented starting staff. Some have seen Furbush as a darkhorse candidate for a lefty relief spot in Detroit at some point during the season, but I seriously doubt he’d be used that way in the minors, especially with the Tigers needing to identify some insurance starters other than Oliver if case the injury bug hits early.

Tigers to recall Weinhardt Wednesday

The original plan for the Tigers’ September callups was that nobody was probably coming up until Triple-A Toledo’s season ended on Labor Day. There just isn’t much depth left in the farm system. However, Jeremy Bonderman’s rib cage muscle issues might have put a little more urgency in the works. The team announced Tuesday that right-handed reliever Robbie Weinhardt will be recalled Wednesday, the first day rosters can be expanded.

The Tigers sent down Weinhardt a couple weeks ago to work on his slider to go with his sinker. In general, manager Jim Leyland said at the time, his stuff was “up, up, up, up, up.” He has six innings with the Mud Hens since then, allowing an unearned runs on three hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.

Detroit had to go short in the bullpen when Alfredo Figaro made a spot start for Bonderman over the weekend. The Tigers haven’t announced their rotation for next weekend at Kansas City, so we don’t know yet whether Figaro will have to start for Bonderman again on Friday.

Wells up for 2 days; Galarraga to start Sunday

The move is official: Casper Wells has been recalled from Triple-A Toledo, and Alfredo Figaro is headed back to the Hens. But Leyland also announced his next move coming Sunday: Wells will be optioned back to Toledo, and Armando Galarraga will be called up to start Sunday against the Red Sox. So unless there’s an injury that changes plans, Wells’ first big-league stint will be a short one.

Leyland did not get into what happens with Galarraga after Sunday. However, the Tigers won’t need an extra starter after that, since their five starters will be on short rest. Given that, plus the fact that Leyland doesn’t really want 13 pitchers on the staff unless the bullpen is really worn down, seemingly makes this a one-time outing for Galarraga.

Who comes back in his place? Interesting question. After double-checking on the rules, it appears the Tigers do NOT have to wait 10 days to recall Ryan Raburn, regardless of whether he’s replacing somebody on the disabled list. That seemingly could lead to Raburn’s return next week. After double-checking again, it appears the 10-day rule is still in effect, so the Tigers can’t recall Raburn until next Saturday. So we’re back to guessing who comes up again.

Leyland: Short rest was never a consideration

Depending on what happens tonight with rookie Alfredo Figaro in his first start in three months, the question among more than a few Tigers fans will be why manager Jim Leyland didn’t just stay with his core starters and use either Justin Verlander or Rick Porcello on short rest. After all, Porcello was on schedule to start Saturday anyway until Monday’s rainout pushed back that outing.

According to Leyland, it wasn’t a consideration. Judging from his remarks, their futures beyond this season were the overwhelming consideration.

“I’m not going to pitch Verlander on three days rest, and I’m not going to pitch that kid [Porcello],” Leyland said.

That would be the same decision, Leyland said, even if they were a game back in the race. Wouldn’t happen.

“Not with those two kids. I wouldn’t do it. We’ve got our opportunity. We’ve got enough guys. It’s not the ideal situation having to pitch a rookie like this, but we’ve won two or three big games like this with [Eddie] Bonine pitching.”

Figaro to start Saturday

Jim Leyland announced this afternoon that he’ll start rookie Alfredo Figaro Saturday against the White Sox. It’ll be his first start at any level since that outing at Houston in late June, when the Astros roughed him up. He was optioned to Triple-A Toledo right after that, but that move was cancelled when he was found to have a sprained right wrist, forcing him onto the DL. He returned in August for a late-season rehab stint at Double-A Erie, but he pitched for the SeaWolves as a reliever then, not a starter. The Tigers will have a few days to stretch him out.

By doing that, the Tigers leave Justin Verlander available on his normal rest to pitch Sunday’s regular-season finale if need be.

On Jackson and tipping pitches

jackson091709.jpgOne of the things pitching coach Rick Knapp mentioned Sunday that he and bullpen coach Jeff Jones were working on with Edwin Jackson in his morning side session was a quirk that they believed was tipping his slider, letting hitters know it was coming. But the thing is, it’s still a good enough pitch that hitters haven’t been pounding it. Really, they haven’t been swinging at it, and Knapp’s belief was that by knowing it was coming, hitters were taking it so that Jackson would fall behind in counts, or just not finish off hitters with two strikes.

It’s an interesting little twist on the pitch-tipping saga. A lot of times, you hear about it allowing hitters to attack a pitch. Alfredo Figaro went from a decent Major League debut against the Brewers in June to a pounding from Astros hitters a week later, some Tigers believed, because he was tipping pitches. In that case, the Gameday app showed Astros hitters pummeled Figaro’s breaking balls and offspeed pitches while laying off the fastball. A few years ago, the White Sox found something in Verlander’s mannerisms that tipped his pitches, and pounded his changeup.

In Jackson’s case, Royals and Blue Jays hitters generally went after his fastball his last two starts. Yet if you look at his pitch data, his ball-strike ratio wasn’t any different than usual, and he still got a high number of swings and misses, 12 of them from the Royals. However, it didn’t take looking at Gameday to notice Jackson was throwing fewer sliders. Leyland complained about it after the Royals outing. Jackson is throwing 25 percent sliders this year, according to, compared with about 20 percent last season.

I don’t know what Jackson was doing to tip his slider; Knapp obviously isn’t going to say it. But I do know he had Jackson working on his mannerisms over and over leading into his delivery during his side session Sunday morning in the Metrodome. Will it make a difference? We’ll find out, but the question will be whether hitters swing more at his slider, not less.

Tigers call up Figaro after all

With injuries mounting on the Tigers pitching staff, the club added another September call-up, activating right-hander Alfredo Figaro from the 15-day disabled list.

While it’s unlikely Figaro can be stretched out to be a starter, which was his role during his brief call-up to Detroit in June, he can bring another relief arm. He allowed a lone earned run over 12 relief innings during his rehab stint at Double-A Erie last month, striking out 10 batters.

Figaro placed on 15-day DL

Remember when the Tigers sent down Alfredo Figaro last week and replaced him with Luke French? Well, turns out Figaro had a sprained right wrist. So today, the Tigers voided the option of Figaro and placed him on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 28. He’ll be eligible to come off the DL in a week.

Postscript on Figaro: Tipping pitches?

A day after the Astros roughed up Alfredo Figaro in his second Major League start, there was more dicussion about his pitch selection, and why a pitcher who made his mark throwing fastballs at Double-A Erie and in his Major League debut would go so often to a breaking ball.

“The normal reaction for a young pitcher when they see certain teams and names,” manager Jim Leyalnd said, “is that everybody up here can hit a fastball and they think you’ve got to trick them. And it’s the total opposite of that. He got caught in a trap.”

But there was also the thought that the Astros might’ve been picking up on something in Figaro’s mannerisms on certain pitches, in effect tipping his pitches. After all, if you look at the pitch selection, Houston pounded breaking balls and offspeed pitches, yet did next to nothing with Figaro’s fastball. It’s an amazing thought for somebody who just made his second Major League start.

Figaro talked about it after the game, but said he couldn’t tell.

Leyland dismissed the idea.

“He was trying to trick them instead of throwing the ball, but I don’t think there was anything they were picking up,” he said.

Still, just in case, Figaro might well end up doing some side work between starts to shore that up.

UPDATE: Any work Figaro does on that will have to come at Triple-A Toledo. The Tigers sent him down after the game and called up Lucas French to start in his spot Friday at Minnesota. Though no one would say it, they’re getting a lefty starter in there against a Minnesota lineup headlined by left-handed hitters.