It wasn’t a quality start for Tigers southpaw Charlie Furbush, but it could have been a heckuva lot worse. Furbush, who made his first career start Monday night in Anaheim, threw only 65 pitches in 4.2 innings. He fanned six Angels batters and allowed three runs. There were times he looked every bit the part of a major league starter, and other times, when he balked in a run, that he looked like a fresh-faced rookie. That’s to be expected, I suppose.
Furbush didn’t get anything in the way of offensive support, but for the purposes of this discussion, the outcome of the game is almost immaterial. Furbush gave the Tigers something their starting pitchers haven’t been giving them nearly often enough of late; he gave them a chance to win the game.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland made the move to insert Furbush into the rotation more because he felt like he needed to get Phil Coke out of that role than because he felt like Furbush would succeed. One start in, you certainly cannot proclaim the rookie to be here to stay, but he didn’t do anything to make me think that he shouldn’t make the next turn in the rotation as well.
Furbush threw 45 of his 65 pitches for strikes and mixed his pitches well, throwing a fairly even numbers of two different fastballs, a change up, and his breaking ball. For the most part, he was able to keep the Angels off balance. Because he’d been working in relief since being recalled, Leyland wanted to keep Furbush’s pitch count down a bit. The next time out, you can expect to see him throw probably 80-85 pitches. If he does so with the efficiency he displayed on Monday, that number could get him through six innings or so.
You can’t look at his final line and call the outing a success, really. But Furbush wasn’t the reason the Tigers lost last night. That, in and of itself, represents an improvement over the recent outings by Coke and Max Scherzer. Furbush was okay on Monday and hopefully he’ll improve in his next start. If nothing else, his effort Monday night should be something the Tigers can build upon.