But which players? Good question. Let's explore the possibilities.
Before we start looking at particular players, let's understand one important element in this process: Any player who is called up to Detroit when rosters expand must be on (or added to) the 40-man roster. During the regular-season that is a two-edged sword -- it can at times knock minor-league players out of action to create space to add a major-league player. At this time of the year, it plays a HUGE role in potential call-ups.
In short, if the player is on the 40-man roster, his chances of being promoted to the Tigers is MUCH better. If he's not on the 40-man, another move must be made to create room (either taking someone off the 40-man roster, or putting a player on the 60-day disabled list, which opens up a 40-man roster spot).
Clear? OK, then let's look at some pitchers, presented in alphabetical order. On Friday I'll look at some position players on the Mud Hens roster and handicap their chances.
After each player's name I'll have a "yes" or "no" to tell you if they are on the 40-man, following be some thoughts on each player. Here we go ...
- PHIL COKE (YES): I wish there were all this easy. Detroit manager Jim Leyland said Coke would be recalled when rosters expand on Sept. 1, so I would assume that he WILL be called up.
- OCTAVIO DOTEL (NO, BUT YES): Here's where that 40-man roster trickiness comes into play. Dotel technically is NOT on the 40-man roster because he is on the 60-day disabled list. Currently the Tigers are at 39 players on the 40-man roster, so activating him would not be a problem. When Dotel proves he is healthy, he WILL be called up.
- DARIN DOWNS (YES): Here is where things start to get tricky. It's good news that Downs is on the 40-man, but the Tigers had a chance to keep him when he came off the disabled list in late July ... and instead sent him to Toledo. He has a 2.77 ERA, has allowed just one earned run in his last eight appearances, and IL opponents are batting .191 against him. Still this is a tough one ... I will say he WILL be called up, but it would not surprise me if I was wrong here.
- KENNY FAULK (NO): Faulk has rebounded nicely from a disastrous May, and the broken hand that kept him out in June. But not being on the 40-man works against him, and my guess is he WILL NOT be called up.
- BLAINE HARDY (NO): The lefty has been dynamite since moving into the rotation, and the Tigers are starting to look at him as potentially more than an "organizational" pitcher. Still, he's not eligible for free agency, and he's not on the 40-man roster, so I would predict he WILL NOT be called up.
- SHAWN HILL (NO): The Tigers signed him in the off-season as potential starting depth, but Hill has struggled to a 4-14 record and 5.65 ERA. I think he WILL NOT be called up.
- JAIR JURRJENS (NO): The right-hander has pitched better in his most-recent starts, but his ERA with the Mud Hens is at 6.12 in six starts. Unless Jurrjens made some type of deal when he was signed guaranteeing he would be called up in September, I predict he WILL NOT be called up.
- KYLE LOBSTEIN (NO): The young lefty began the season in Double-A and earned the promotion to Toledo, where he is 5-3 with a 3.80 ERA in 12 starts. But he also is ticketed for the Arizona Fall League, so to limit his innings I would say he WILL NOT be called up.
- JON LINK (NO): After a rocky start with the Hens (0-3 with a 7.80 ERA in three July starts), Link has pitched better this month. He has a 3.52 ERA in August, and if you throw out a bombing by Norfolk in the middle of the month he has allowed just three runs in 22 innings (1.23 ERA). But he's not on the 40-man roster, and I think he WILL NOT be called up.
- JOSE ORTEGA (YES): The next three are the three toughest decisions, in my opinion. Ortega had success with the Mud Hens early in the season, but has struggled lately (he has suffered three losses in his last five appearances). The biggest problem? Walks, as he has surrendered 33 in 48 innings for Toledo, including eight in 11 innings this month. I would not be shocked if he is recalled to Detroit, but I would guess that, because of his recent command issues, Ortega WILL NOT be promoted to Detroit.
- LUKE PUTKONEN (YES): Another tough one, as Putkonen has been back and forth between Toledo and Detroit. Unlike Ortega, walks have not been an issue for Putkonen (13 in 37.2 innings for the Hens), who is 2-0 and earned a save earlier this week. Something in my gut tells me that Putkonen WILL be promoted to Detroit.
- EVAN REED (YES): Perhaps the toughest of the last three. I think Putkonen easily has been the best of these three relievers, and Ortega has easily been the worst. But does Reed fall more towards the good than the bad? I'd say more towards the good, although the right-hander has given up a run in each of his last two outings. I could be talked into either side ... but I'm going to guess that he WILL be called up to Detroit.
- ROBBIE WEINHARDT (NO): Weinhardt has been a blessing to the Hens because of his ability to cover multiple innings. But he hasn't pitched since Aug. 18, which is a tremendously bad sign if he was in line for a call-up. I predict he WILL NOT be promoted.
In terms of the four pitchers currently on the Mud Hens disabled list -- Casey Crosby, Matt Hoffman, Pat Misch and Jess Todd -- I would say the cards are stacked against all four. Crosby is the only one on the 40-man roster, but I have been told that he has been shut down for the year, as has Misch. Not being healthy and not being on the 40-man are a one-two punch that Hoffman and Todd won't be able to overcome.
So that's a total of five pitchers I believe will be called up to Detroit when rosters expand. I think that's a number that falls in line with Leyland's stated preference to limit the number of "extra" players who get called up.
Agree? Disagree? Go to the "Post a Comment" space below and tell everyone who you think WILL be called up to Detroit. Or tell us who you think SHOULD be (or should not be) called up to the Tigers. Make sure you explain your reasons, and be civil!
I'll give a "shout out" to the person who has the most pitchers correct ... and perhaps I can find some type of prize for the winner?