A couple of things have kind of happened quietly this off-season in Tigers nation. The signing of Torii Hunter and Anibal Sanchez are not those things of course. Two guys, however, that many considered organizational depth on the pitching side have parted ways. Andy Oliver was traded away to the Pittsburgh Pirates for catcher Ramon Cabrera. And Adam Wilk was sold to a Korean team (sorry Chris, I never sent you a sympathy card). For those that don’t know, here at MCB, Chris Hannum was our resident Adam Wilk supporter.
June 7, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Casey Crosby (45) pitches during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Whether or not any of us believe that Andy Oliver or Adam Wilk truly presented any real depth in the rotation, the fact is, the shear numbers of guys that can do the job as a quasi-adequate replacement have dwindled with their departures. It’s one of the reasons a good portion of Tigers nation is holding onto hope the Tigers keep both Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly. I mean, who is going to replace someone if a pitcher inevitably gets hurt?
Well, that is where Casey Crosby comes in.
I know. If you aren’t very familiar with Crosby other than his brief stint in the major leagues last season, you are probably scratching your head. I can’t say that I myself wasn’t a bit concerned watching his performance last season as well. Keep this in mind. Casey Crosby wouldn’t be the first pitcher ever to struggle in his first 12 pro innings. The look we got is so brief it’s a bit irresponsible on our parts to make a judgment on what Crosby can or can’t do. So let’s take a step back from the ledge, and get two steps away so we can get near it again quickly if we have to.
Anybody who has watched Casey Crosby, or read a scouting report on the young man knows what the issue is. It’s command. The quality of stuff has never been in question for the strong armed lefty. But until he gets ahead of big league hitters with his arsenal, he is going to struggle.
The Tigers need the talented Crosby to start putting things together consistently in 2013. In fact, he might be the most important Tigers prospect out there.
As mentioned, the Tigers aren’t sitting on a mound (no pun intended) of talented starters in the upper minor leagues right now. If they decide not to deal Porcello or Smyly, they can incur one injury. If two happens, it will likely be time for Crosby to step in. At that point, the Tigers wouldn’t hope he pitches well, they would need him to. But even if things don’t come to having to use Crosby in 2013, his pitching well is still of vital importance to the organization.
If Crosby can pitch well in 2013, especially through June, he becomes one of two things; a part of the future rotation, or he becomes a piece of a trade that gets the Tigers what they need down the stretch and for a hopeful long playoff run. Crosby’s value as a lefty power arm on the market could extensive if things click for the young man this season. Not to mention he is still young at 24 years old. If he is pitching well, that could be a very attractive piece to a team on the rebuild like a Houston Astros or Colorado Rockies.
It certainly obvious that Crosby pitching well for the Tigers organization is a good thing, but because of the lack of depth beyond the top six starters, his importance may be a bit amplified this season. He is talented, and it’s time to put things together for a young man that has gone through some tough times.