Sawyer Gipson-Long's road to Detroit Tigers rotation just got longer

Detroit Tigers need for Sawyer Gipson-Long has diminished.

Sep 22, 2023; Oakland, California, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Sawyer Gipson-Long (66)
Sep 22, 2023; Oakland, California, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Sawyer Gipson-Long (66) / Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
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Detroit Tigers stacked rotation pushes others out.

The Detroit Tigers were busy this off-season adding in some pieces. Sure, they may not have been the pieces most fans hoped for, but they were some additions nonetheless. One was a multi-year contract with right-handed pitcher Kenta Maeda, who will join the middle-of-the-rotation.

Beyond that move, the Detroit Tigers also signed Jack Flaherty. While Flaherty is looking for a bounce-back year, hoping to right the ship on his performance, it also clogs up another spot within the Tigers rotation. It leaves the Tigers in an exciting spot; looking at the rotation it raises some questions.

Coming into the season, there was some hope that the Tigers would be reliant on pitchers like Reese Olson and Matt Manning to round out the rotation. This leaves some of the others on the cusp. One of the players who is on the cusp is Sawyer Gipson-Long. However, given the teams' new additions from the free-agent market, Gipson-Long might be the odd one out.

Gipson-Long's chances of making the roster went from pretty high to quite slim in a matter of a few years. He's still newer to the organization after being acquired in the deal that sent Michael Fulmer back in 2022. But, in the short time he has been with Detroit, he has been solid for Detroit's organization with Erie & Toledo.

He spent the majority of time with Double-A Erie but was nearly splitting 50/50 between Double-A and Triple-A Toledo. He even made his big-league debut in 2023, making four starts for Detroit. In his first 20 innings as a big-leaguer, he walked eight, struck out 20, and allowed 14 hits. He pitched to a 2.70 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in his limited innings as a big leaguer.

But the majority of the year saw Gipson-Long stationed in the minors. With Double-A Erie, he made 13 starts with one relief appearance. He pitched to a 3.74 ERA and 1.02 WHIP while walking 15 and striking out 76 opposing hitters over 65.0 innings of work on the season.

In his time with Triple-A Toledo, Gipson-Long made six starts with two relief appearances, totaling 34.2 innings pitched. Gipson-Long managed a 5.45 ERA and a 1.36 ERA. He walked 14 and struck out 50 opposing hitters in that time with the Mud Hens, knocking on the door of the big league.

However, he ended up getting his big-league debut. It's not that Gipson-Long will jump into the big-league rotation and be a stud, but he has the stuff to hold down a back-end rotation spot if all goes well. But with the Tigers' moves this off-season, his chances to crack the MLB rotation have distinctly diminished.

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