The Tigers philosophy, well, mainly manager Jim Leyland’s, has been to limit September call ups when the rosters expand on September 1st. At least in the past anyway. I tend to agree with the philosophy for the most part. If the guys aren’t going to get off the bench, then what is the point of bringing them up? Especially with the Tigers in the midst of a pennant race. They just don’t have the luxury of putting Nick Castellanos in the lineup just to give him a taste of the big leagues because every game is crucial.
I think the difference between this year, and some of the years in the past, is there is identifiable needs with the 2012 club. Many of the things that have plagued the Tigers all year are still there. Porous defense, an inconsistent starting staff, and some trouble putting offensive numbers up by guys in the bottom half of the order. The next question we need to ask is, do the Tigers have guys in the minors, and on the 40 man roster, that they can bring up to help with some of their needs?
Here is a look at some potential expanded roster call ups…
The Tigers are solidified at four starting spots right now with Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello right now. Despite Porcello’s up and down season, he is still better than anything that the Tigers minor leagues can offer at this point. The question is, can the Tigers do better than Anibal Sanchezat this point? Sanchez has really struggled since coming over in the trade with the Florida Marlins, and if he doesn’t improve quickly, he might find himself getting pushed back or skipped more often like he did this past Sunday.
Relief wise, the Tigers have had some struggles from the back end of their bullpen, mainly Phil Coke and Joaquin Benoit. The thing is, no matter what, Jim Leyland is going to run these two out there with regularity. There is a comfort level with them, as they have had success before, and bring a veteran presence to the back of the bullpen, along with Octavio Dotel and Jose Valverde. Plus relievers need regular work. If you are going to call up extra guys, there is a chance that guys that need work either won’t get it, or you bring in a young guy who isn’t used to sitting for 10 days in an important situation.
With those things in mind, I don’t think we see a lot of additions to the pitching staff.
Pitchers the Tigers potentially call up:
Smyly obviously pitched rather well for a stretch with the Tigers in a starting role earlier this year. He has been hampered by the nagging injuries, and it has kind of made him unreliable in a sense. Plus, he isn’t exactly pitching well in Toledo right now. Still, there is a good possibility he gets a call up because he is a lefty, and could potentially play the role of a swing starter and reliever.
I think many were surprised to see Below get sent down in the first place, and he could easily come back September 1st and see some action as a 3rd lefty.
Marte struggled a little bit in the bigs this year, but he has shown he can get guys out. If the Tigers want another guy that can go 2 innings in the middle of the game, he might be worth a call.
Alburquerque has been injured all year with an elbow issue, but is finally pitching some games in the minors. Word is the Tigers are stretching him out to go multiple innings, but that doesn’t seem the smartest thing to me for a guy that throws a bunch of sliders and has had elbow issues. We shall see on this one.
It’s been pretty well documented that Brennan Boesch is struggling. Quintin Berry is coming back down to earth, and Delmon Young is a DH only, who isn’t particularly good at that either. The trade for Omar Infante solidified, if not fixed, the Tigers biggest issue at 2B. The trouble is, the Tigers don’t have guys that look particularly ready to help out, and the guys they do have aren’t on the 40 man roster, so there would have to be some corresponding moves to make that happen. In effect, if the Tigers wanted to give Ben Guez an opportunity, they would have to remove someone off the 40 man roster. Is it worth it, considering Guez is likely to have minimal impact and at-bats.
Potential hitters to be called up:
I don’t necessarily think the Tigers will call him up, however, he is still a possibility. Guez plays all three outfield positions, hits right-handed, and has some pop and decent speed. Might be better than bringing up Don Kelly, but we all know how that is going to turn out.
Leyland loves him. Enough said.
Yep, he will be back.
Could be a pinch runner, and wouldn’t be a bad defensive replacement late in the game at 3B or SS.
Garcia offers something that nobody else on the roster does, offers plus defense from a corner outfield spot. He is on the 40 man, bats right-handed, and has enough speed to have some utility as a late innings runner as well.
It does seem the Tigers like to bring up a third catcher when rosters expand, and I don’t see why this year will be any different. I actually expect Holaday to be one of the only locks on this list.
I didn’t include Daniel Schlereth on this list, frankly because I am not sure he can help more than Duane Below at this point, and four lefty relievers is a bit much, especially if Smyly gets the call when rosters expand as well. Again, I am not suggesting that all of these guys will see a September call up, just giving you the options that I see presently for the club. Given that it’s likely to be only 4 to 5 players, some of these guys are going to be surprised they don’t get the call.
The likelihood that anybody on this list makes a big impact is pretty small, but if used properly, a couple of them could potentially be used in late inning situations. But when it comes down to it, the Tigers are going to win with the guys they have on the 25 man roster right now. They will win if Benoit and Coke find their grooves, Sanchez contributes, Boesch gets hot and Leyland continues to substitute defensively.
September call ups are nice, but they are essentially for teams that are trying to figure things out for the following season. The Tigers need to figure some things out for now, and I doubt there is much help from Toledo and Erie to make a huge difference.