The Tigers announced on Saturday morning that they have optioned left-handed pitcher Adam Wilk to Triple-A Toledo. Wilk was a candidate for the fifth and final spot in the Tigers' rotation, as well as for the final long relief spot in the bullpen. Practically speaking, the move leaves three candidates for the final spot in the rotation: lefties Andrew Oliver, Drew Smyly and Duane Below. The Tigers optioned Casey Crosby earlier this month, and Jim Leyland has said that it is "unlikely" that top prospect Jacob Turner would be on the roster on opening day, after being shut down with tendinitis for the past week.
Wilk made his major league debut for the Tigers in 2011, making five appearances, all in relief, throwing 13 1/3 innings, allowing 14 hits and eight earned runs for an ERA of 5.40, while walking three and striking out ten hitters. This spring, Wilk made five appearances totaling 12 innings, allowing 10 runs on 19 hits, allowing two walks and striking out five.
Unlike some of the other lefties that are vying for a job on the major league roster, Wilk is a "control" pitcher, who probably has the best command of any prospect in the organization. Though he is not a strikeout pitcher, he has managed to climb up through the organization with excellent K/BB and WHIP ratios, but has been unable to translate those numbers in his brief attempts at the major league level. Wilk will return to his role as a starting pitcher in Toledo.
The Tigers now have 17 pitchers still in major league camp:
Note: Duane Below may be a candidate for a bullpen spot if he is not selected for the rotation, and Al Alburquerque will start the season on the disabled list.