The Detroit Tigers starting pitching rotation suffered a major blow on Tuesday when the team announced that left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez would have to go on the IL due to a left index finger pulley rupture.
According to the injury report, he felt discomfort throwing a pitch late in his outing against the White Sox. Also hitting the IL with Rodriguez is Matt Vierling with lower back soreness. Reliever Braden Bristo, who the Tigers just signed a few weeks back off the waiver wire from Tampa and Tyler Nevin were recalled from Toledo.
The loss of Rodriguez is a huge blow to the starting rotation for several reasons. One, the Tigers schedule in June is a gauntlet of .500 or above teams. They head to Chicago to play the White Sox again before stopping in Philly for a three-game series with the Phillies before hosting the Diamondbacks and the Braves. Then after division games with Minnesota on the road, KC at home and the hosting the Twins, they end the month playing the Rangers for four games in the Texas heat.
The current pitching depth is thin. Even with Tarik Skubal throwing to live bats - a positive development - his return to the pitching staff, along with Beau Brieske's, is still weeks away. Reese Olson, who has recently improved his performance with the Mud Hens, (2 GS, 10IP, 5H, 1ER, 2BB, 19SO over his last two starts), could receive a call-up since he's on the 40-man roster. There's potential for Bristo to open for the series finale against the Rangers on Wednesday.
Garrett Hill, who made the team out of spring training and was set to Toledo early on, continues to struggle with command. Beyond Hill, if you are thinking about Wilmer Flores or Ty Madden as alternatives, Flores is still trying to establish his third pitch, a changeup and Madden has been inconsistent since his first start of the season against Akron, where he dominated the Rubberducks.
Lastly, if the Tigers were seeking to trade Rodriguez because he can opt-out after this season, this injury setback could hurt Detroit if they are seeking high value in return. But right now, where it hurts Detroit the most is in the win-loss column, where he has been one of the best starters in the American League.