Things around the Mud Hen continue to provide interesting tidbits for Tigers and Toledo fans alike.
The first has been the almost daily diet of stories regarding potential rotation replacements for Detroit's Doug Fister, who was put on the disabled list with a left rib cage strain.
Today, the Tigers announced that they have picked a winner in that derby: LHP Adam Wilk will face the White Sox Saturday in Chicago in his first major-league start.
Wilk split time between Detroit and Toledo last season, making 18 starts for the Mud Hens (8-6, 3.24 ERA) and five relief appearances with the Tigers (0-0, 5.40 ERA). Of all the starters Toledo has used so far this season, Wilk was easily the most impressive, shutting out Indianapolis for five innings on Opening Day, allowing just one hit and one walk while fanning six.
Click here to read The Blade story written by Rachel Lenzi about Wilk's effort against the Indians.
Among the other options the Tigers considered were LHPs Andy Oliver and Casey Crosby, both of whom struggled in their first Toledo start this season.
I've had several people e-mail me asking if I was surprised that Wilk was the winner of that derby. My answer is ... no, but a little bit yes.
How's that for a non-answer, eh?
Let me explain. I am not surprised that Wilk was chosen above Oliver and Crosby. The reason I say that is that Wilk's first start was clearly stronger than the first starts for Oliver and Crosby. I think Oliver needs to work out his command issues, and Crosby needs some polish, which makes Wilk the most-ready for this assignment.
I'm a little surprised that Duane Below wasn't given the starting nod. Below has pitched well for the Tigers so far, so one option would be to insert him into the rotation and have either Brayan Villarreal, who was promoted to take Fister's spot on the roster, or Wilk replace Below in the bullpen.
My guess is that the Tigers see this "start" as a temporary thing -- one or two starts at the most before Fister returns. That's why it would make more sense for Below to keep his role in the bullpen, and it would make more sense for Oliver and Crosby to keep working in Toledo to smooth out their problems.
By the way, this situation -- having to push a bunch of young pitchers into starting roles on a championship-caliber team -- is the reason I never understood all of the Brad Penny bashing this year. The Tigers merely wanted Penny to take the ball every fifth day and consistently given the roughly six innings. He did that, and Detroit made the playoffs as a result.
With all the youngsters the Tigers are counting on now -- don't forget that Drew Smyly is in that mix -- there are a bunch of questions about multiple parts of the Tigers rotation now.
The other announcement today was that Brandon Inge will begin a rehab assignment with the Mud Hens.
Brandon Inge felt he could've been ready for Opening Day when he suffered an injury at the end of spring training. The Tigers couldn't take the chance that his strained left groin might be aggravated into something worse. There was little question, though, that he'd be ready for a rehab assignment soon enough.
As a result, Inge will be the designated hitter for the Mud Hens against Louisville tonight, then will play second base for the Hens on Wednesday and Thursday, stretching out to seven innings.
Inge is eligible to be activated from the disabled list on Saturday. If all goes well on rehab, he will likely be activated then.
That means Saturday will be an interesting day for both the Tigers and Mud Hens as Detroit makes decisions to open up roster spots for both Inge and Wilk.