The Tigers have announced that the once-highly-rated left-handed pitcher, Casey Crosby, will be moving from the rotation to the bullpen for the 2014 season. After missing much of the 2013 season due to arm injuries, the club hopes to use Crosby in a relief role. This is both because of his health -- he also missed almost all of the 2010 season -- and because there is a need for a left-handed reliever at the major league level. Jordan Gorosh has a full scouting report on Crosby here. The report includes a complete injury history.
Crosby was a fifth round draft pick out of high school in the 2007 draft. He received a $ 750,000.00 signing bonus to turn pro. He rose as high as the number 2 prospect in the organization and Baseball America's number 47 prospect in the nation following a banner season in 2009. He was 10-4 with an ERA of 2.41 and a WHIP of 1.13, striking out over ten batters per nine innings at Low-A West Michigan. He was named the Tigers organization's pitcher of the year.
Crosby's injury problems began when he injured his pitching elbow and required Tommy John surgery following the 2007 season, causing him to miss the entire 2008 season. After his stellar campaign in 2009 with everything seemingly back on track, 2010 was another tough one for Crosby. He developed soreness early in the season and was placed on the disabled list after making just three starts in the Gulf Coast Rookie League. Struggling badly, his season came to an abrupt end, as Dr. James Andrews recommended that he should be shut down, though there was no structural damage.
Suffice it to say that Crosby has never been the same since returning to the mound in 2011. He has posted three consecutive seasons with an ERA north of 4.00, and WHIP ratios from 1.41 to 1.65. Even in his best years, Crosby has had issues with his control, never getting below four walks per nine innings outside of the rookie league. He did manage to throw 134 and 121 innings in 2011 and 2012.
Crosby was added to the 40 man roster after the 2011 season, and made his major league debut in 2012 in a game against the Yankees, filling in for the injured Doug Fister. He struck out Curtis Granderson in the first inning, but then loaded the bases and Granderson paid him back with a grand slam his next time up.
After fifteen days of futility in the major leagues, posting a 9.49 ERA and 9:11 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his first three big league starts, he was sent back to Toledo. He has not been called back to the majors since, although he has remained in Baseball America's top ten prospect rankings in the Tiger organization. Jordan has him at number 21. I'll go with that.
Things didn't get much better for Crosby in 2013. He put up a 4.84 ERA and 61:40 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 57 2/3 innings in 13 starts at Triple-A before being shut down for the season once again. After having bone chips removed from his elbow in August, the Tigers sent Crosby to the Arizona Fall League where he worked out of the bullpen for the first time in his career.
Quote of the year on Crosby is from Jordan Gorosh in his Crosby preview:
Left-handers hit .154/.323/.250 against him in '13, and I'd expect numbers in the same vicinity at the major league level
That's still a big difference between the on-base percentage and the batting average against, but if these numbers hold true, the Tigers might have found another lefty for the bullpen.
Crosby will be vying for a job as a left-handed reliever out of the bullpen. Figure that five spots are locked up, including one for lefty Ian Krol, who came over in the Fister trade. Crosby's bid could be helped if Phil Coke doesn't rebound from his worst season, as Brad Ausmus is sure to prefer at least one more lefty in the bullpen. Crosby is the only other left-handed relief pitcher on the roster, although the Tigers could call up a starter for bullpen duty as they did with Alvarez last season. Chances of seeing Crosby at some point during the season, if not on the Opening Day roster, are pretty good.