Tigers, Hens Pitchers Ride Bullpen Carousel

Since Aquilino Lopez was promoted to Detroit in late April, a flurry of Mud Hens pitchers have completed the I-75 shuffle to and from Detroit. Tim Byrdak, and Virgil Vasquez each made one trip to Motown while Lopez and Zach Miner made two. Vasquez got his major league debut against Minnesota, and Byrdak, who played in the MLB as a Royal and Oriole, made his first appearance in the Olde English D.

While most of their stints in the majors were short lived situations in response to bullpen injuries to Jose Mesa, Jeremy Bonderman and Joel Zumaya, the promotions are symbols of the minor leaguers meeting their career goals.

"Our job here is to get the guys to the big leagues, and to help the big league club win," Mud Hens interim manager Mike Rojas said amidst a slew of call-ups last week. "If it's a pitcher, if it's a hitter, infielder, its good to help out the big league club and help them get some wins at the higher level." Here's a detailed look at how each pitcher helped their big-league and minor league clubs thus far.

Virgil Vasquez
Recalled by Detroit on May 13.
Optioned to Toledo on May 14.

Vasquez's first major league start was a major league disappointment. The youngster earned the loss in a spot start for Jeremy Bonderman after allowing six runs in two and 2/3 innings, skyrocketing his E.R.A to 20.25. Don't let that rookie performance fool you though, "The Virge" may be the best of the borderline bullpen bunch. He's 4-2 with a 3.98 E.R.A with Toledo through eight starts and he hasn't lost a minor league contest since early April.

Zach Miner
Recalled by Detroit on May 17.
Optioned to Toledo on May 18.
Recalled by Detroit on May 26.

Despite having a dismal first quarter of a season, Miner still found his way up north to Detroit courtesy of a rainout turned doubleheader- and then once more. Although he recorded the loss in outing No. 1, it was one of Miner's strongest performances in what has been a rough season. The right-hander allowed only two earned runs in five and 2/3 innings yielding an E.R.A of 1.69. His promotion may also have helped resurrect his season. After Miner was recalled to Toledo, he earned his first win of the season making him (1-4). At this point last spring, Miner was 6-0 with the Mud Hens. Exactly one week after returning to Toledo, Miner was re-called to replace Roman Colon who begins his major league rehab. In his second stint with the Tigers, Miner saw limited action from the bullpen in two contests. All together Miner has an E.R.A of 3.91 through three games and eight and 1/3 innings pitched along with seven strikeouts.

Aquilino Lopez
Contract purchased by Detroit on April 20.
Optioned to Toledo on May 3.
Recalled by Detroit on May 6.
Optioned to Toledo on May 13.

In two stints with the Tigers this season, Lopez has a 5.06 E.R.A in five games along with a save in one save opportunity. With Toledo Lopez has five more saves in 12 games to go along with his impressive 1.29 E.R.A Lopez played the bulk of his innings with the Tigers replacing Jose Mesa in early May after Mesa injured his throwing shoulder.

Tim Byrdak
Contract purchased by Detroit on May 14.
The fireballer in training is currently extending the longest call-up of the season. Byrdak has a 2.53 E.R.A with the Tigers in eight games, and has recorded nearly three times as many strikeouts as hits. He also touched 98 m.p.h on the radar and struck out Albert Pujols swinging in a Zumaya-esque fashion on Sunday May 20, in the third and final game of the Tigers three game sweep over the Cardinals at Comerica Park. Pujols was only retired twice in the series. Byrdak has been a surprising replacement for setup man Joel Zumaya who is recovering from an injured finger.

Roman Colon
To Toledo from Detroit (MLB rehab)
While the aforementioned pitchers were moving up to Detroit, Colon headed down to Toledo to begin rehab with the Mud Hens. The right-hander has a 4.91 E.R.A in three games; however, Colon has allowed only one hit in his last two and two thirds innings pitched.

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