TigsTown MLN: Zumaya's Jump Up

After getting the big promotion to Triple-A after having dominated his Eastern League competition, how did Joel Zumaya show in his first start as a Mud Hen? Plus, who took Zumaya's place in Erie, and what other roster shifts have taken place over the past few days.

Starting with the headline story, Joel Zumaya didn't have the picture perfect start some might have been hoping for from the youngster as he made his Mud Hen debut on Sunday.

Zumaya got the start in the first game of Toledo's doubleheader, but didn't last long, being run out of the game after just 3 1/3 innings – allowing six runs on four hits in that span.

So, not quite what the Tigers were hoping for, but it certainly wasn't a terrible start. Zumaya's control wasn't spectacular, his knuckle-curve was only a serviceable pitch half the time he threw it (when it's on, it's deadly, when it's not, it's a gopher ball). Plus, Zumaya's nerves had to be a bit shaken having him go up against such solid competition for the first time – and Buffalo is no walk in the park as they feature mashers like Eric Kinkade, Jeff Liefer, Ryan Ludwick and Ernie Young.

So fear not Zumaya backers, it may not have been a Verlander-esque start, but Zumaya went through the same learning curve at the end of last season when he was promoted to Erie, and keep in mind, he still can't even have a drink legally until November.

As for his replacement in Erie, Preston Larrison got the call, even though he wasn't too impressive in his starts with Lakeland. Larrison, who is still at around 80% having returned from Tommy John surgery just one year ago allowed plenty of base runners in Lakeland (1.59 WHIP) and still hasn't hit 90 yet on the radar gun. Nevertheless, Larrison tried his hand at Erie on Sunday, where he allowed four runs in four innings before turning things over to the bullpen.

Larrison will be one to watch next spring, as he's reaching that point age-wise where he'll have to start showing something as a pitcher to still be considered a prospect. Time will tell how quickly his arm is able to rebound and be back pitching at 100%.

Snagging a starter from Lakeland of course means they need a replacement, especially now with Randor Bierd being placed on the disabled list. Eulogio DeLa Cruz was returned to Lakeland after an extremely brief stint, but the Tigers seem to prefer to keep him in the bullpen. Which means the final rotation spot will likely fall on a mix of players, including Lucas French and Jermy Rodriguez.

Bierd isn't the only minor league pitcher to go down an injury though, as this entire chain of events came about when Wilfredo Ledezma was shut down until further observation and tests can be done (read: Tommy John surgery is likely). A frustrating end to a disappointing season for Ledezma, but almost a relief in some ways, as the arm troubles likely had at least something to do with the decreased velocity and loss of command of his pitches.

One final move to note is the swap of centerfielders in A-ball, as Clete Thomas, after his hot start, was moved up to West Michigan, and Justin Justice, who has struggled all year, was sent back down to Oneonta. A good move overall, as Thomas has emerged as a legit prospect in just his first few weeks as a Tiger, and should be challenged accordingly.


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