For the first time in several years, the Detroit Tigers are facing a lot of uncertainty heading into September. Much has been said about manager Brad Ausmus and whether he will be back next season, but there are a lot of question marks throughout the organization.
Lynn Henning of The Detroit News runs through some of those questions regarding Victor Martinez, Nic Castellanos, Anthony Gose and the bullpen in his latest column.
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There is also some uncertainty of whether starters Daniel Norris and Anibal Sanchez will return in 2015. Norris appears ready to return, and Sanchez threw a bullpen session on Tuesday without any pain. One would think the Tigers will be very cautious with Norris and leave him on the disabled list because there is nothing to play for the rest of the year, but apparently his recent progress has changed some minds.
As far as Sanchez goes, Ausmus wants to see how he feels on Wednesday, but the manager did say he expects the right-hander to pitch again this year.
"Will reliable bullpen pitchers for 2016 emerge?They must. And the must-perform group begins with Bruce Rondon, who is Detroit’s best bet to close games in 2016. Rondon has been irksomely inconsistent. He needs to prove during September that his 2015 ins-and-outs have given way to a brand of fireproof pitching Avila and Co. absolutely require from the bullpen’s best arm.Also important: Drew VerHagen’s development as a late-innings option. His 96 mph fastball and hard repertoire make him the brand of pitcher Detroit needs as part of its back-end mix. The role appears to fit. He’ll be watched closely in September."
"Daniel Norris appears to be ahead of schedule to return from the disabled list. It does not appear that Anibal Sanchez is.Sanchez threw Tuesday afternoon for the first time since going on the disabled list Aug. 19 with a right rotator cuff strain.“He was OK,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said."
"“When I say he was OK,” Ausmus said, “he didn’t have pain. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”At this point, because of the fierce odds they face in making the playoffs — the Tigers stood eight games out of the second American League wild-card spot entering Tuesday night’s series opener against the Royals — it seems likely that the team could opt to keep Norris, a youngster, on the shelf for the remainder of the season, but because of his recent progress, Ausmus wouldn’t commit to that."