Detroit Tigers need to cut ties with Spencer Turnbull.
It was May of 2021, and the Detroit Tigers just saw Spencer Turnbull throw a no-hitter in the best start of his career. Later that summer, his season ended early, after just nine starts. It had to be a tough blow for Detroit and Turnbull, given how well things are going.
In his time with the Detroit Tigers, there was hope that Turnbull could be a viable addition to the team's rotation. But, now, on the wrong side of 30 years old, Turnbull has struggled to be a viable pitcher in the big leagues at all.
His 2023 performance was abysmal and led to a demotion, and he was just not the same player he was in the past. The 2021 season, where he pitched to a 2.88 ERA and had a 0.98 WHIP over nine starts, was insane, but after missing all of 2022, he was just never the same.
He missed the entire 2022 season as he was recovering from Tommy John Surgery that he underwent in 2021. Then, in 2023, after his return to the mound, injury trouble was a problem once again.
Turnbull was dealing with a neck injury, which proved problematic for his 2023 performance. He pitched in seven starts, totaling 31.0 innings of work. He pitched to a 7.26 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP, which was certainly not the best.
He ended up getting demoted, and when that happened, it felt like it might be the end of the line for the right-hander and his tenure in Detroit. It will be decision time for the Tigers as they try to identify what direction they want to go in with their rotation.
Looking ahead, Turnbull is slated to earn $2.4 million, given his estimated arbitration number per FanGraphs. That seems like an awful lot for a pitcher who's thrown 31.0 innings over two seasons, has had injury trouble, and has not exactly performed well.
As mentioned, he's on the wrong side of 30, and Detroit will have to make tougher decisions at some point. It might be time to mail it in with Turnbull. Both sides might need to go their separate ways.
Turnbull is slated to be a free agent after 2025 when his arb-years run out, but the Tigers do not need to keep paying him to eat up a roster spot they can use elsewhere. For Detroit, they should consider having Turnbull on their list of non-tenders this winter.