The least surprising of the group is obviously Andrew Miller, who with a major league contract and big league experience, was on his fast track back to Detroit. With the Tigers in need of a starter, and Miller being the most skilled and the most big league ready, he was the obvious candidate.
As would be expected, Miller has gone through some growing pains (not including his aching hamstring). Miller is 5-4 with a 4.42 ERA, averaging nearly eight strikeouts per nine innings, and is showing that he'll be a long term staple in the rotation.
Miller will make a rehab start on Monday where he'll throw three innings, with manager Jim Leyland in attendance. Leyland has stated his most interested in seeing how effective Miller's off-speed pitches are – pitches that Miller rarely used in his prior big league starts.
But Cameron Maybin and Jair Jurrjens? Jurrjens was just 21 years old with a handful of starters ahead of him, while Maybin was even younger and hadn't even tasted high-A baseball, let alone the upper rungs of the system.
But with Nate Robertson and Kenny Rogers being forced to the disabled list, and neither Virgil Vasquez or Jordan Tata shining in their opportunities, the Tigers looked to Jurrjens, the most talented starter the team had left in the organization. Jurrjens had an up-and-down first start, but it was good enough where Leyland will entrust him with a second one.
Leyland was also likely encouraged that Jurrjens gave up just one run over the final four innings he pitched, after he worked off the initial nerves of making his big league debut. That, and with the team deciding Andrew Miller wasn't ready yet to return, the team was still in need of a fifth starter.
Maybin meanwhile was partly a source of circumstance, partly a reason of impressing. No one was surprised to see Maybin get promoted to Double-A Erie midway through the season – just as expected he displayed all the talent and tools that the hype promised.
But Detroit? At 20 years of age? With six games of Double-A experience?
Well, as the saying goes, the good ones come quick, and in Maybin's case, it was extremely quick.
The need for an outfielder became prevalent with the demise of Craig Monroe, but Maybin? Could the 20-year old phenom handle the pressure of Yankee Stadium with so little experience?
Of course he had the talent, and he put that on display when he launched his first career big league home run off arguably the best pitcher of the last 50 years; Roger Clemens. If Maybin continues to show well, the Tigers will have no qualms about leaving him in Detroit and letting him work through his youth.
However, once Placido Polanco is healthy and Ryan Raburn can return to working in the outfield, the Tigers may elect to return Maybin to the minors where he can work on his game, without the pressure of a big league pennant race. A Raburn/Marcus Thames platoon is more than serviceable, and the Tigers won't jeopardize his future. That being said, that future is not far away.
Finally, one last tidbit. While most Tiger fans are focused on the big league team and their AL Central battle, soon talk of the Arizona Fall League will come up. TigsTown has learned of at least one Tiger farmhand that will be headed to the desert; Erie left-hander Eddie Bonine.
Bonine wasn't considered a top prospect coming into the season, but has put together a good year (12-5, 3.68 ERA, 72/21 K:BB), and with no team ever having enough pitching, the Tigers want to get a longer look at Eddie up against some stiffer competition.