The Mud Hens' starting rotation has been depleted the last few weeks.
Three starting pitchers – Charlie Furbush, Adam Wilk and Andrew Oliver – have been promoted to the big leagues during the last couple of weeks. Losing 60 percent of their opening day starting rotation has forced the Mud Hens to get creative with their pitching.
Brayan Villarreal – who pitched 14 games out of the ‘pen for the Tigers this year – L.J. Gagnier – recently promoted from Double-A Erie – and Ramon Garcia – used primarily as a reliever at both Toledo and Erie – each started for the Mud Hens this week. For Villarreal and Gagnier, it was their first start at Triple-A this season, while it was the second time Garcia started for Toledo.
In addition to the loss of pitching, the Mud Hens have had to deal with losing key hitters Scott Sizemore and Danny Worth, who was recalled this week to replace Sizemore – who was traded to Oakland – on the roster.
Although Wilk has since been returned to Toledo (and pitched a strong game against Rochester Monday) the recent activity transaction wise may be a reason for Toledo's recent struggles, which culminated with a six-game losing streak, which lasted from May 22 and ended in the second game of a double-header May 29.
"It makes me happy to tell someone he's going to the big league; I got to tell Danny Worth he was going to the big leagues," Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said of sending players to the Tigers. "I would hope that, once you cross the white lines, you go out and play, but that's just part of Triple-A baseball."
Because of the players getting called up, the Mud Hens have had to rely on players that weren't on the roster at the start of the season, as well as some players who are playing a role they aren't used to.
Nevin was complimentary of Garcia's performance Friday. Despite his team losing the game, Garcia gave up only two runs in five innings of work. It was his 12 appearance of the season between Double-A and Triple-A, but only the third time he has started a game.
"When you start playing the game, you play the cards you are dealt," Nevin said. "[Garcia] did a great job for five innings – and he fought with us to not come out of the game.
"He was at a pitch count where he hasn't been this season, and I'm not going to hurt a guy. He wanted to pitch, and it showed me a lot, I appreciated it."
Reversal of course
After another rough start Thursday (six runs in 3 2/3 innings) Thad Weber saw his ERA jump to 6.79.
That was a far cry from the numbers he posted last season: a combined 3.80 ERA between Erie and Toledo. In his three starts with the Mud Hens, he went 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA, holding opposing hitters to a .187 batting average. He also had a strikeout: walk ratio of almost 6:1.
However, he bounced back Tuesday to throw his best start since April 14. He hurled seven shutout innings against Rochester, allowing seven hits and a walk, while striking out five. The effort dropped his ERA to 6.02 for the season.
-The Mud Hens placed catcher Omir Santos on the 7-day DL Friday with a head injury. Max St. Pierre has been catching in his place and he hit his first home run of the season Wednesday.
-Bryan Pounds was recalled from Erie Saturday to replace Danny Worth on the roster. He has gone 4-for-12 since returning to the Mud Hens.
-Sent down as part of the Oliver transaction, Ryan Perry has thrown two scoreless innings with Toledo.
-Robbie Weinhardt, designated for assignment to make room for Wilk on the 40-man roster, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Toledo.