He first sip of the major league cup of coffee was bitter sweet and two sizes short of a venti mocha. Three innings in just two appearances isn’t near enough to impress, but Tigers management could see he has decent stuff. The Tigers sent him down 0nce their bullpen got completely healthy, and quietly he has been making solid performances since then for AAA Toledo. Moving to the starting rotation, to fill a major need in the organization (yes at the back end on the paretn club), French has been impressive as of late. 2-1 with a 1.66 ERA and 41 strikeouts in his last six starts with Toledo. He says a lot of his success has to do with the improvement of his slider.
"“The pitch I needed to work on was my slider,” French said. “I threw it more and it started clicking. I was able to start throwing it for a strike and then to start locating it.”"
French, who was greeted first by the cousin of the pitcher he is replacing this call up, could be the answer to all of the Tigers prayers on the mound. Since moving to the starting rotation in Toledo, French has compiled a 7.3 K/9 with opponents only hitting .236 off him. He is flying under the radar, and the Tigers Mangement flew this bullpen to starter move right under the sonar. While Tigers fans were worrying about Dontrelle Willis, Nate Robertson, Alfredo Figaro, and Zach Minor competing for the last spot in the rotation, French logged 83 innings of work, going the distance in one of his thirteen starts.
We will see how he tosses tonight, but this move makes me believe that the Tigers will not be hunting for a starting pitcher as the deadline nears. The real win will be either releasing Dontrelle Willis or Nate Robertson, and showcasing French for the rest of the year. Even if he doesn’t pan out as a starter, it seems that Dombrowski, Leyland and company will keep him on as a lefty specialist.
"“Our starting pitching has actually been pretty good,” Dombrowski said. “You’re always concerned about any area, because all it takes is a bad day of injuries. Our top three guys have been good for us overall, and [Armando] Galarraga has been better his last couple starts. Our fifth spot, we have confidence in Luke French.”"
French will get his chance tonight against the rival Twins. Let’s hope that slider works for him. I am rooting for him. He might be the last resort in the fifth spot of the rotation.