September 1 is here, which means the end of the minor league season is just days away, and the Tigers are now able to expand their roster passed the 25-man limit. Which players will the Tigers call up this September?
Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
Every year at this time, there are some obvious call-ups. JaCoby Jones would have been a likely choice, and that decision was already made by bringing him up two days ago, adding the flexibility of including him on the postseason roster, if necessary. Matt Boyd was temporarily optioned down, but will be coming back up to take his spot in the rotation. In addition, catcher Matt Hicks will likely come up in a few days once the Mud Hens season ends, as will Dixon Machado and Steven Moya, who will provide depth off the bench and late game assistance; one in the form defensive assistance, the other as a power bat off the bench. With Nick Castellanos sidelined, Casey McGehee is a good bet to come back up as well, and Buck Farmer and his versatility would be a valuable addition. They might add another reliever or two as well, someone like Dustin Molleken, depending on the expected return of Mike Pelfrey and Jordan Zimmermann, but that would be more just in case of emergency or eating innings in a lopsided game.
The two most interesting decisions that the Tigers will have to make come down to a rising prospect and a former starter that is trying to work his way back; reliever Joe Jimenez and outfielder Anthony Gose. Jimenez has been dominant across all three levels this season, with a 1.57 ERA over 53 appearances. His Toledo numbers haven't been AS good (2.84 ERA, 3.09 FIP), but he's still been striking out more than a batter per inning. The question with Jimenez comes down to value to the club and value to his development. The scout consensus leans toward Jimenez needing more seasoning; his slider is still inconsistent and his command needs work, so it's unlikely he'd be a serious contributor for the club. Would him being exposed to big league life for a few weeks help with that? Potentially, and that could be enough of a reason to bring him up, but he's not on the 40-man roster, and opening up a spot for him now could be challenging, making it seem unlikely that Jimenez is ticketed for Detroit. The other interesting candidate is Anthony Gose, who quickly fell out of favor in the Tigers organization after he sulked in spring training, used his reporting window to go hunting, and was so difficult to deal with he ended up being sent to Erie, with serious discussions about the club outright releasing him. When he's playing well and his mind is focused, at minimum he's a valuable bench outfielder with great speed and solid defense, in addition to hitting right-handed pitching fairly well. But does a player that was so disruptive this year deserve a return? Hard to say yes, so unless something changes the Tigers equation (i.e. Cameron Maybin being sidelined for an extended period), here's a bet that Gose stays on the sidelines.
Mark Anderson, Director of Scouting
While in the thick of the playoff hunt the Tigers must be strategic about the players recalled for the stretch run, and that strategy began with the early recall of utility player JaCoby Jones, whose recall on Tuesday affords the club the ability to put him on the active roster in the playoffs. In addition to bringing up Jones, the Tigers can be expected to add several players this month, though many will not be added until after the conclusion of the minor league season. Among the most likely players to be recalled, are pitchers Matt Boyd and Buck Farmer, catcher John Hicks, infielders Dixon Machado and Casey McGehee, and outfielders Anthony Gose and Steven Moya. Boyd will almost certainly be recalled immediately to fill his normal rotation spot, while many of the others will be recalled at the conclusion of Toledo's season next week. Farmer and Hicks will provide quality depth to the bullpen and behind the plate, giving manager Brad Ausmus a little more flexibility in the season's final weeks. McGehee and Moya can provide some punch off the bench in September, while Machado and Gose will both offer speed and defense to help late in games. The Tigers likely will not recall relievers Dustin Molleken and Angel Nesbitt, and right-hander Warwick Saupold likely lost his chance for a big league spot with his recent arrest for simple assault. While all of the Tigers September call-ups appear pretty mundane, there is some intrigue surrounding the potential addition of right-handed flame thrower Joe Jimenez. Jimenez would need to be added to the 40-man roster and given that the club did not do that before the end of August, it seems unlikely they will make such a move just to get him big league innings now with no potential for him to make the postseason roster.
Chris Brown, Staff Writer
Jim Leyland used to complain about expanded rosters a lot, and he often said he'd only add a handful of players because he didn't want a bunch of guys just sitting around. I think Brad Ausmus is of the same ideology, but for most of the 2016 season the Tigers have suffered from a lack of solid bench bats and bullpen arms, so I think we could see an unusually high number of call ups this year.
There are several players I consider mortal locks to join the team. Matt Boyd, of course, because his removal from the 25-man roster was merely procedural, and Steven Moya, whose left-handed power makes him a valuable pinch hitter. And then there's catcher John Hicks, who is having a fine season in Toledo, but who hasn't played for the Tigers yet. He'll be up simply because having a third catcher affords a manager more flexibility. It also seems likely Dixon Machado and Buck Farmer will return to Detroit. Machado for his speed and glove, and Farmer for his ability to provide multiple innings of relief.
Things get a bit cloudy after that. Anthony Gose's speed and defense could certainly help, but it's still not terribly clear if he's welcome back in Detroit, or if he's truly persona non grata. Casey McGehee could return again, but I'm not entirely sure what role he would play. Dustin Molleken and newcomer Donn Roach are also possibilities as potential long relievers or emergency starters, but once Mike Pelfrey and Jordan Zimmermann return, that would seem to be overkill. The last name to consider is Joe Jimenez, who isn't currently on the 40-man roster. He may not be quite ready for MLB hitters, but he has bat-missing stuff, and he could end up playing a key role in September. It wouldn't shock me at all if the Tigers removed Molleken or Angel Nesbitt from the 40-man roster and added Jimenez.