On Thursday, the Tigers are going to start top pitching prospect Jacob Turner against his hometown St. Louis Cardinals. While it is always exciting to see one of your teams top prospects make an appearance, this season has been somewhat of a rough one for Turner. So rough in fact, I hesitate to call him the Tigers top prospect overall anymore. That distinction may go to 3B Nick Castellanos at this point.
Turner, who suffered some shoulder issues in spring training, we’ll just call it tiredness, hasn’t exactly been dominant in the minor leagues this season. His ERA in Toledo has been just fine at 3.43, however his peripheral numbers have been less than inspiring. His K ratio in AAA sits at just 5.8/9, while his walk rate is at 4/9. Still, when Drew Smyly developed a blister and had to go to the disabled list, it was Turner who got the call instead of the struggling Casey Crosby.
Turner has a real opportunity here to “Wally Pipp” Drew Smyly here. It has always been Jacob Turner since spring training that the Tigers wanted for the job. He just couldn’t win it because of the arm troubles, and maybe command. The good thing here is that despite Smyly coming back to earth a little bit, he has still shown well enough to be a serviceable 5th starter in the majors in the present. So, if Turner falters, the Tigers have a plan in place.
I suspect Turner will get a couple starts, and the Tigers may even have Smyly pitch in the minors until Turner can prove that he either is or isn’t ready. Either way, there is potential for that 5th spot in the rotation to see it’s share of different starters for the rest of the season, and the Tigers can afford to play the hot hand, no matter who it is. Right now, that is Jacob Turner. In his last 19 innings in Toledo, Turner has allowed just 3 earned runs.
Maybe the best sign for Turner, given he isn’t striking out a ton of batter, is his GB rate, which is at 1.79 GO/AO in Toledo.