The Tigers won a series with their victory yesterday over the Chicago White Sox. They hadn’t won a series since July 9-11 against the Twins. That’s pre-all-star break for those of you without a calendar in front of you. They beat the Sox in a road series. The Tigers hadn’t won a series on the road since sweeping two games in Oakland on May 19-20. They hadn’t beaten the White Sox in a series since July 24-26 of 2009. They hadn’t beaten the Sox in a series at US Cellular Field since taking three of five there June 8-11, 2009.
Suffice to say, this one feels good.
What feels less good is that with the Tigers heading to New York to take on the Yankees for the next four games, the Tigers bullpen is in disarray. Closer Jose Valverde has missed the past three games while dealing with an abdominal strain. As a result, Phil Coke and Ryan Perry have been working hard to close out the past two ball games. Robbie Weinhardt and Brad Thomas have pitched in higher leverage situations that Jim Leyland would like and with no off day in sight, Leyland and company felt the need for another arm in the ‘pen.
That was the motivation behind recalling Daniel Schlereth from AAA Toledo after yesterday’s game and optioning out OF/1B Jeff Frazier. It’s a tough break for Frazier, a New Jersey native, just before he would have had a chance to play in front of friends and family a Yankee Stadium. He’s playing in the minor leagues for seven years and only this year has gotten his first taste of the majors.
Sadly, after nine games and 23 at bats, Frazier is gone again. That’s the way things go sometimes.
Getting back to the issue at hand for Detroit, Schlereth might wind up being thrust into an important role in the Tigers ‘pen immediately. Coke has closed out each of the last two games and Leyland would like to give him a day off today. If the Tigers have a lead late, and Valverde is again unable to go, Perry would be in line to close the ballgame, but Schlereth should be the guy to assume Coke’s normal role. What the Tigers could really use this evening is a lengthy start from Max Scherzer, as many in the bullpen are gassed right now. I’d hate to have to see the Tigers turn over a lead to Eddie Bonine in the seventh. You know, because he’s not very good.
But this has been the problem for Detroit for much of the season. Ever since Joel Zumaya went down, the Tigers have been working without a net. Weinhardt has had to step into an important role for the Tigers, probably a year before they had planned that for him. Bonine and Thomas have worked primarily in games the Tigers are trailing, but these two together show you exactly how much Detroit has missed the services of Zach Miner and Bobby Seay this year.
The move to bring back Schlereth is probably a temporary one. Leyland won’t like to keep a nine man bullpen for long. When the dust settles and Valverde is ready to pitch again, Schlereth will likely head back to Toledo, or it could be Enrique Gonzalez I suppose. The Tigers will add another bat from the minor leagues, maybe Casper Wells, maybe Scott Sizemore, but more likely they’ll bring Danny Worth back from his rehab assignment when the extra arm in no longer needed.