The Tigers can't buy a start. To be more specific, the Tigers haven't received a quality start in a week, and pretty much every start has been absolutely ugly. What can they do about it?
Well, notably enough, this Thursday is September 1st, the date at which point rosters expand and the Tigers can put anyone on the active roster that is on the 40 man roster. Could they decide to pull a starter from Toledo, even though the Mud Hens are getting ready for the playoffs?
It's a tough pickle to be put in, as the Tigers performance always takes precedence, but it's important for the teams down on the farm to enjoy some success too, and stealing more guys from the ‘Hens certainly won't help them in their goal to win the International League crown.
Possibilities include almost everyone in the rotation (Wilfredo Ledezma, Kenny Baugh, Zach Miner and Joel Zumaya), as well as Marcus Thames and Don Kelly, though that pair doesn't appear to have plenty of playing time in front of them at the big league level, making it less likely a promotion happens among the position players. Should the Tigers desperately need an upgrade, look for a pitcher or two to get the bump up, but for the most part, to see the team stay intact.
Of course, Zumaya first needs to get back into the mix at Toledo before they can think about Detroit. For those that missed it, Zumaya's last turn in the rotation was skipped when Zumaya informed the team that something ‘didn't feel right'. Obviously with being such a young arm, the Tigers have absolutely no interest in risking his future, so they will certainly proceed with caution. He's currently slated to start Thursday, so barring any setbacks, he should be back and there should be no problems.
Progress isn't as optimistic with Justin Verlander, who is still down in Lakeland. After throwing and still not feeling quite right, Verlander was sat back down, and will try to throw off the mound again this week.
Now, we don't mean to give anyone a heart attack, but this situation is showing alarming similarities to the developments of former first rounders Matt Wheatland and Kenny Baugh. Both, after experiencing pain while on the mound, were shut down for a couple weeks for fatigue – both ended up going under the knife.
The fact remains that it's rare that fatigue can suddenly drop velocity by 5 or 6 MPH overnight. Stay tuned.
Finally, Erie may be out of the playoff race now for good (they were officially eliminated from playoff contention this past weekend), but it wasn't a disastrous season. Erie fans still got to see two of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball (Verlander and Zumaya), and saw a very competitive baseball team for the first few months of the year.
A few SeaWolves also received awards as the Eastern League announced their postseason All Star awards. Three SeaWolves were recognized; Joel Zumaya as a starting pitcher, Don Kelly as an infielder, and Edwin Almonte (who still leads the Eastern League in saves) as a reliever. Congrats to the ‘Wolves (and current ‘Hens).