- Tigers righty Jordan Zimmermann returned Saturday from a month-plus absence stemming from a neck strain, but the 30-year-old put up a disastrous showing in an 11-3 loss to Baltimore. Zimmermann allowed six earned runs on four hits, including three home runs, and three walks in an inning of work. After the game, manager Brad Ausmus wasn’t willing to commit to Zimmermann for another start, relays Katie Strang of ESPN.com. Fellow righty Michael Fulmer’s status complicates matters, though, as Evan Woodbery of MLive.com details. With the Tigers monitoring the AL Rookie of the Year front-runner’s workload, they might not be able to pull Zimmermann from their rotation. If Detroit elects to send Zimmermann to the bullpen and skip at least one Fulmer start, it could open the door for veteran Mike Pelfrey, but he has been out for over a month and isn’t stretched out. Whatever the Tigers ultimately decide, the production they have gotten from Zimmermann (4.94 ERA, 5.49 K/9 in 94 1/3 innings) clearly isn’t what they had in mind when they signed the ex-National to a five-year, $110MM deal in the offseason.
- Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos, out DL since Aug. 6 after fracturing his left hand on a hit by pitch, hopes to return next week. “My goal is to be back before the 18th,” he stated (via Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press). Castellanos, who has been taking ground balls and hitting in cages, will take batting practice Monday. If that goes well, the Tigers will set up a simulated game, per Ausmus. At the time of his injury, Castellanos was in the midst of a career year, having hit .286/.331/.500 with 18 home runs in 432 plate appearances. Replacements Casey McGehee and Erick Aybar haven’t come close to matching those numbers for the Tigers, who are a game out of of a wild-card spot.
In his latest column, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan chronicles Justin Verlander’s return to prominence as one of the game’s most dominant pitchers. Passan spoke to a very candid Verlander, who explained that during the 2014 season — the worst of his career — he felt pain in his shoulder through virtually every pitch he delivered. However, as Passan notes, Verlander was keenly aware of the expectations that came along with signing a $180MM contract and was resolved to pitch so long as he was physically capable. Verlander admitted to Passan that for awhile, baseball was no longer fun for him. The Detroit ace walked Passan through his recovery, beginning with recovery from surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle (which was, perhaps the root of all of his problems, as his mechanics were drastically altered to compensate). As Passan points out, Verlander’s velocity is sitting around 93 mph, and he’s now throwing his slider harder than in the past as a means of differentiating it from his curve. The result is one of the finest stretches of Verlander’s career: a 2.09 ERA and a 102-to-19 K/BB ratio over his past 90 1/3 innings that has firmly inserted Verlander into the mix for the AL Cy Young Award.
More from the AL Central…
- Manager Paul Molitor has given the Twins every indication that he intends to return in 2017, tweets Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. While that in and of itself may not be overly newsworthy — owner Jim Pohlad has gone on record as stating that he wants Molitor to remain the team’s skipper even after hiring a new president of baseball ops — Walters does report that Molitor is slated to earn $2.5MM in the final season of the three-year deal he signed with Minnesota prior to the 2015 campaign.
- Earlier today, the Twins activated righty Trevor May and lefty Tommy Milone from the DL, per a club announcement. The 26-year-old May has had an interesting season, racking up 12.5 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 but compiling only a 4.89 ERA in his 42 1/3 innings. Milone, meanwhile, seems headed for a non-tender barring a stirring performance over the last several weeks of the year. He has posted a rough 5.68 earned run average in his 65 frames thus far.
- The Indians pulled Danny Salazar from tonight’s contest due to forearm tightness, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian was among those to tweet. The club emphasized that it was a precautionary move, but this isn’t the first time this year that forearm/elbow issues have sidelined the prized righty. He declined to speak to reporters after the game, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer tweets, with manager Terry Francona saying that the team hopes to “know more tomorrow when he comes to the park.” Salazar lasted only four frames in his latest outing, and hasn’t reached six innings in a start since mid-July. The 26-year-old did manage to rack up 11 strikeouts in his prior appearance, but it has been quite an uneven second half for a pitcher who could be a key part of the club’s hopeful postseason run. Entering his first year of arbitration eligibility — he’ll qualify as a Super Two — Salazar has thrown 137 1/3 innings of 3.87 ERA ball, with 161 strikeouts but also 63 walks on his ledger.
- Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain was back in the lineup this evening after sitting out several contests due to a sprained hand, as Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star reports (Twitter links). It “doesn’t feel good” to swing, said Cain, who nevertheless managed to reach three times on a hit and two walks. Per skipper Ned Yost, the club will keep running Cain out so long as he can tolerate playing, with hopes that his glove, legs, and savvy at the plate will make up for any limitations with the bat. Asked by MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (Twitter link) whether he had caused any further damage by playing with the injury, Cain offered a somewhat resigned response: “It’s already torn. So I don’t know if it made it worse, unless I get another MRI.”
- Despite the Tigers’ need for bullpen help, the club has decided not to promote intriguing righty Joe Jimenez, as Evan Woodberry of MLive.com reports. It seems the club isn’t sure that the 21-year-old yet possesses the secondary offerings needed to succeed in the majors, as he certainly has the numbers to support a promotion. After opening the 2016 season at the High-A level, the Puerto Rican hurler pushed his way to Triple-A. He didn’t maintain his gaudy 14+ K/9 strikeout rate there, but the overall results were quite promising for a pitching of his age. In his 15 2/3 frames at the highest level of the minors, Jimenez allowed four earned runs on just nine hits and four walks while retiring 16 opposing hitters via the K.
The Tigers announced this afternoon that right-hander Donn Roach, whom they had designated for assignment over the weekend, has been claimed off waivers by the Athletics.
Roach, 26, has a 5.77 ERA with 20 strikeouts against 18 walks in 39 career innings at the Major League level, but his massive ground-ball tendencies continue to intrigue teams enough to land on 40-man rosters. Roach posted a 3.03 ERA in his Triple-A run with the Tigers, fanning 21 batters against just five walks in 29 innings of work. He’s posted a gaudy 67.1 percent ground-ball rate in his big league career and has a 59 percent ground-ball rate in Triple-A this year. He’ll add some depth to the Athletics’ Triple-A team on the eve of the playoffs, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter), who points out that recent promotions have depleted the Athletics’ Triple-A roster.
Roach has bounced all over the league in the past two years, spending time on the 40-man roster with the Padres, Cubs, Blue Jays, Reds, Mariners, Tigers and now Athletics.
The Tigers have announced that they’ve designated righty Donn Roach for assignment. The move clears space on the team’s roster for lefty Joe Mantiply, whose contract the team has selected from Double-A Erie.
The Tigers claimed Roach from the Mariners last month, and he made five starts for Triple-A Toledo. Between Toledo and the Mariners’ affiliate in Tacoma, Roach has posted a 3.86 ERA, 5.4 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 over 137 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level this season. The 26-year-old has appeared in the big leagues in each of the last three seasons, including in 5 1/3 innings in the Mariners’ bullpen this season.
The 25-year-old Mantiply was a 27th-round draft pick in 2013, but he made quick work of the lower levels of the Tigers’ system and has fared well in the high minors this season, with a 2.73 ERA, 10.5 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 59 1/3 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A. He likely would have been a potential Rule 5 Draft selection this winter, but his addition to the Tigers’ 40-man roster protects the team from that possibility. He’ll join Justin Wilson, Kyle Ryan and Blaine Hardy as lefties in the Tigers’ bullpen.
- Outfielder Alex Presley has accepted a Triple-A assignment with the Tigers after clearing waivers, John Wagner of the Toledo Blade reports on Twitter. Presley was designated for assignment recently, but the opportunity remains for him to play a role at the major league level late this year, especially with Cameron Maybin now dealing with another thumb problem.
- The Tigers also announced that the club purchased the contract of infielder/outfielder JaCoby Jones. Acquired in the deal that sent Joakim Soria to the Pirates last summer, Jones has struggled for most of the year at Triple-A. Over his 324 plate appearances in his first trip to the highest level of the minors, Jones owns a .243/.309/.356 slash with 11 steals. He’ll provide some versatility in Detroit, though, as the 24-year-old has spent time at both third base and center field this year.
- The Tigers are holding their breath yet again with regard to outfielder Cameron Maybin, who left tonight’s action with another thumb injury. As Evan Woodberry of MLive.com tweets, X-rays on his left thumb were negative, but an MRI has been scheduled for a closer look tomorrow. The 29-year-old has been a key cog for Detroit, slashing .328/.398/.415 with 14 steals over 286 plate appearances, but has already spent two stints on the DL — including one for an injury to the same digit that is causing the new trouble. Regardless of the prognosis, it seems fairly likely that the Tigers will end up seeing value in exercising a $9MM option to retain Maybin for 2017 rather than paying him a $1MM buyout.
[Related: Updated Detroit Tigers Depth Chart]
Iglesias had missed two weeks with a hamstring strain. The 26-year-old is hitting just .249/.297/.328 in 399 plate appearances this season, although he remains one of the game’s finer defensive players, with UZR pegging him as 10.4 runs above average at short this year.
The Tigers signed Presley to a minor league deal in July after he opted for free agency rather than accepting an outright assignment from the Brewers. The Tigers called him up last week, and he collected just five plate appearances for them. The 31-year-old has hit just .198/.269/.289 in 134 plate appearances so far this season, although he’s hit fairly well at the Triple-A level. Over parts of seven big-league seasons, he’s batted .253/.295/.382 while playing all three outfield positions.
- The Tigers announced this morning that right-hander Jordan Zimmermann will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo on Friday. Zimmermann has pitched for Detroit just once since June 30, lasting just 1 2/3 innings in his lone start back from a neck strain that sidelined him for the entire month of July. After that abbreviated return, Zimmermann went back on the DL with a lat strain, but he’ll look to make his return to the Tigers early next month. A healthy Zimmermann would be a breath of fresh air for Detroit, as the team currently sits just three games back from a Wild Card spot and 5.5 back from the division-leading Indians.
AUG. 23: The Tigers announced today that Parnell has cleared waivers and been released.
AUG. 18: The Tigers announced that they have designated right-hander Bobby Parnell for assignment and selected the contract of veteran outfielder Alex Presley from Triple-A Toledo. Parnell’s DFA creates a spot on the 40-man roster for Presley, and he’ll be added to the big league roster at the expense of outfielder Steven Moya, who has been optioned back to Toledo, per the club.
Parnell, 31, has tossed 5 1/3 innings for the Tigers at the big league level this season after inking a minor league deal in Spring Training. He’s allowed four earned runs (6.75 ERA) on seven hits and five walks (one intentional) in that time, with the rest of his work coming at the Triple-A level, where he’d been pitching prior to his DFA. Parnell’s work in the minors has been more respectable but still nowhere near the excellence he showed with the Mets from 2010-13, when he totaled a 2.79 ERA at the big league level and emerged as New York’s closer. In 43 1/3 innings with Toledo this season, he has a 3.98 ERA with 6.2 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9.
The 31-year-old Presley opened the year with the Brewers and logged 129 plate appearances, adding to his already considerable big league experience. The left-handed hitter owns a lifetime .253/.296/.383 slash at the Major League level was hitting .293/.378/.398 with Toledo at the time of his promotion. Presley can handle all three outfield spots, so he’ll give skipper Brad Ausmus another option in center field with Cameron Maybin on the shelf. Moya, meanwhile, will head back to the minors to continue to work on his plate discipline. The 25-year-old demonstrated his above-average power by clubbing five homers in just 95 Major League plate appearances, but he also punched out an alarming 34 times against just five walks in that span.