Inside Pitch: Calling All Healthy Arms

The Tigers' pitching staff has been a mess for much of the past few weeks, and is a huge reason why the team has been struggling as of late. The team is looking for healthy and effective arms anywhere they can get them - what's the latest on the staff?

INSIDE PITCH
It wasn't just the winds of change blowing through the Detroit bullpen this past weekend; it was also a couple of fresh arms.

The Tigers' bullpen has been beaten up and depleted through overuse due to ineffective starters. The staff has an ERA that would make an elephant look up ever since the second series following the All-Star break.

"Dave (Dombrowski, the general manager,) was right on top of things," manager Jim Leyland said Saturday. "He knew right away, after last night (Friday) -- it wasn't five minutes after the game last night -- he knew we needed some fresh arms. He got some guys here and Aquilino Lopez did a great job."

Lopez has been up and down so many times this year he must think there's a yo-yo string attached to his arms.

Jordan Tata made three starts and looked overmatched in the last two, so he was sent back to Toledo. Macay McBride was also optioned out, as much because he had an option as anything.

Yorman Bazardo was brought up Sunday for Eulogio de la Cruz, who spent 24 hours with the team in case he was needed.

There's a good chance Bazardo and Lopez will remain as supplements or alternatives to Zach Miner and Jason Grilli, whom Leyland said have been overused.

Fernando Rodney is settling back in as the setup man after returning from the disabled list.

Next week, Joel Zumaya should return. That will be another wind of change -- a 100 mph wind of change.

INSIDE EDGE: Mr. Mystery Man will be the Tigers' starter on Wednesday as rookie RHP Jordan Tata, who would have been in that spot, has been sent back to the minors. It won't be RHP Chad Durbin unless somebody takes his spot in the rotation, it won't by LHP Andrew Miller, who is making a rehab start in the minors Wednesday, and it won't be RHP Yorman Bazardo, who worked eight outs Sunday. LHP Kenny Rogers is nowhere near ready to return. It will probably be somebody from Class AAA Toledo.

NOTES, QUOTES
--LHP Nate Robertson got some run support Sunday -- and needed it. Robertson, whose slider was very sharp his last time out, had trouble throwing strikes consistently Sunday and left after he walked his fifth batter of the game with two out in the fifth. But he struck out a half-dozen and only allowed five hits, so he kept the damage to a minimum. It was the second straight game won by a Detroit starter following a 22-game stretch in which just one starter had won.

--RHP Jordan Tata was optioned back to Toledo on Saturday after posting a 7.71 ERA as a replacement starter. Tata won his first start, but had not fared nearly as well since and seemed to be a bit overmatched at this time. His win was the only victory by a Detroit starter in a 22-game stretch.

--RHP Yorman Bazardo was brought back from Toledo on Sunday and got the last eight outs of Detroit's 11-5 victory. Bazardo has a decent fastball, favored by Detroit management, but needs to sharpen up his secondary pitches. He had been working as a starter in Class AAA Toledo for just that purpose, although the Tigers will not be using him in that role, according to manager Jim Leyland.

--RHP Aquilino Lopez got two key outs Saturday night after being brought back up from Toledo. Lopez was part of a group exchange with the Mud Hens to give some overworked Detroit relievers a break. Lopez retired two batters in Detroit's 5-2 victory Saturday night.

--LHP Andrew Miller is scheduled for a rehab start Wednesday for Detroit's Class AAA farm club in Toledo. There was no indication whether Miller, coming off a sore left hamstring, was to make more than one start in the minors, but his return at some point is virtually assured. "I don't think I can go down there and not record an out or anything," Miller said, "but I think if I do what I'm capable of, things will take care of themselves. If I don't, they won't, and they'll have a decision to make. I just want to make it as hard on them as I can. I have no idea what their thinking is or what their scheduling is." Miller threw in the bullpen Sunday.

--LHP Macay McBride, his control still erratic although improved, was optioned to the minors Saturday by Detroit. The Tigers brought up RHP Eulogio de la Cruz to take his spot on the roster for 24 hours. De la Cruz was sent out in favor of RHP Yorman Bazardo on Sunday. Bazardo was not able to pitch on Saturday and the Tigers needed a fresh arm.

--LHP Kenny Rogers played a little light catch Saturday for the first time in a week and insists he'll come back at some point, even though he knows something is still wrong with his left elbow. "I'm going to find a way to get back out there," Rogers said Saturday. "They pay me to pitch. I'm not supposed to be on the disabled list. I don't throw hard enough to be on the DL. One way or the other, I'll be out there."

--RHP Joel Zumaya is scheduled to begin a three-game rehab assignment Monday at Toledo. Zumaya, who has been out since May after undergoing surgery to repair a tendon on his right middle finger, will pitch Monday, Wednesday and probably Friday before a decision is made whether to activate him the following Monday or not.


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