The Tigers made several moves following their loss to Minnesota on Monday that will affect the Mud Hens roster. That doesn't include one more move they will have to make on Tuesday ... but more on that in a moment.
First, the details ...
- The Tigers optioned RHP Luis Marte and IF Danny Worth to Toledo.
- The Tigers called up RHP Jose Ortega from Toledo and purchased the contract of LHP Darin Downs from Toledo.
- The Tigers announced that RHP Max Scherzer will miss Tuesday's start with left hamstring soreness, but Scherzer is expected to make his next start Sunday. LHP Duane Below will start in Scherzer's place Tuesday.
OK, let's take a look at this transaction, starting with Downs, who is probably the biggest mystery man in the move. Downs has been outstanding for the Mud Hens this season, posting a 2.15 ERA in 25 relief appearances. Downs has an 0-2 record, with one of those losses caused by an unearned run.
In 29.1 innings of work Downs has allowed 25 hits but only eight walks while fanning 33. He has not allowed a run of any sort in his last 10 outings, and no earned runs in his last 11 appearances.
The two things to note about Downs' pitching this season: He has hardly walked anyone, and he has been especially tough on lefties (they are hitting just .159 against him (7-for-44) with just one extra-base hit, a double, in those seven hits.
Oh, and two other things: He isn't a hard thrower, but he has done a great job of keeping inherited baserunners from scoring. He has inherited 17 baserunners this season, and only two have scored.
He pitched one inning in Monday's Mud Hens game, but don't worry about him being unavailable: He threw just six pitches to get three outs. The outs came on two week popups to shortstop and a groundout to second. For the season Downs averages 1.57 groundouts per every putout in the air, so he's obviously a ground-ball pitcher.
A quick word about Downs and his background: yes, he was born in Southfield, Mich., but he told me Monday night he moved to Florida when he was two years old, so he doesn't have huge Detroit allegiances. He lived in Boynton Beach, Fla., and was drafted in the fifth round of the 2003 draft by the Chicago Cubs.
Downs didn't reach Double-A until 2008, his fifth full professional season. He was traded to Tampa Bay in July of 2008 and had a breakout season for Hi-A Charlotte in the Florida State League in 2009, going 12-4 with a 2.00 ERA.
Downs advanced to Triple-A Durham in 2010, splitting time between Double-A Montgomery (6-2, 1.69 ERA in 18 appearances) and the Bulls (6-2, 4.46 ERA in 23 appearances).
Before the 2011 season Downs signed as a six-year free agent with Florida and split time between Double-A Jacksonville (2-5, 4.83 ERA) and Triple-A New Orleans (3-2, 4.29 ERA). He then signed as a six-year free agent with the Tigers early this season.
This is Downs' first-ever promotion to the big leagues.
"I'm very excited, to say the least," Downs said after getting the news. "There's a lot of stuff going through my head -- the whole road here to this point. I'm back-tracking, thinking about memories, and it's all good."
When I asked him about the Southfield connection, he said, "I was born there, but I moved to Florida. I've been to a handful of Lakeland games, and I've gone to spring training there with my dad."
I also asked the 27-year-old Downs about his season with the Mud Hens, and he gave much of the credit for his success this season to pitching coach A.J. Sager and manager Phil Nevin.
"Phil has put me in a lot of good situations," Downs said. "Of course, the better you do, the more he will trust you. But he has put me in to face numerous lefties -- not that I can't get righties out. But I've had an advantage against lefties. Thanks to them for getting me into a great situation."
By the way, if you haven't heard the story of Downs nearly dying after being hit by a pitch, click here to read this account from the Tampa Bay Times.
OK, on to the rest of the transaction.
Jose Ortega again is promoted to Detroit. In 30 games for the Mud Hens the hard-throwing right-hander is 3-5 with a 4.23 ERA. The problem for Ortega has been command: he has given up 34 walks in 38.1 innings of work.
He has given up just 34 hits, though, and opponents are batting .245 against him. His fastball sits in the 95-97 mph range, and when he has command of his breaking pitch he is pretty tough to deal with.
Luis Marte was optioned to Toledo after giving up four walks and one hits in 1.2 innings of work against Minnesota Monday night. On the season Marte has a 3.71 ERA in nine appearances with the Tigers, giving up 16 hits and seven walks in 17 inning while fanning 14.
Marte had a brief rehab stint with Toledo, pitching three innings on May 21 and allowed just one hit and one walk while fanning a pair against Syracuse.
Danny Worth has played in 30 games with the Tigers, batting .182 with two RBIs and four runs scored. He hasn't had an at-bat with the Tigers since June 15, so he may be rusty when he returns to the Mud Hens lineup.
Worth has played in 18 games for Toledo and has hit .306 with three home runs, seven RBIs and 10 runs scored.
OK, at the beginning of this post you may remember I mentioned that the Tigers would need to make one more move on Tuesday. That move involves Detroit's 40-man roster; Downs isn't on it, so the Tigers will have to remove someone from the 40-man to make room for Downs.
I don't know what move the Tigers will make, but I have a couple of guesses ... both of which are bad for the Mud Hens.
Two potential players Detroit could designate for assignment to make room for Downs on the 40-man roster are RHP Thad Weber, who is scheduled to start Tuesday's game. The other is OF Matt Young, who is one of the Hens' better hitters and defenders. Either would be a big loss to a team looking to snap a seven-game home losing streak.
UPDATE TUESDAY, 1:35 p.m.: The Tigers just announced that OF Matt Young has been designated for assignment. Any major league team can claim Young and place him on the 40-man roster.
This means Young will not be available for the Mud Hens tonight when they host Columbus at Fifth Third Field.