In his fourth minor league rehab start (third with Triple-A Toledo), Jeremy Bonderman showed major progress, the kind of jump that makes it look as if he's ready to rejoin the Detroit Tigers. In eight innings of work last night, Bondo allowed no runs on six hits, with five strikeouts and no walks. He threw 98 pitches, 66 of them for strikes. So it appears that his control is fine and his stamina has built back up. But has his velocity returned to full strength?
According to the Toledo Blade game story, Bonderman consistently threw "in the 80s." Jason Beck says he was in the 88 to 90 m.p.h range, which sounds better. In post-game remarks, however, Bondo insisted he was more concerned about using an assortment of pitches and working on his overall game, rather than try to blow away opposing batters.
Might that pitching repertoire have included the ever-elusive change-up? Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish told reporters that Bonderman got "some weak swings" from left-handed hitters with a change-up, and also threw a good slider throughout the game.
So is Bondo ready to be added to Detroit's starting rotation? Team officials wouldn't say what the next step is, but I think Billfer has it right: The Tigers will need a sixth starting pitcher a week from today for a day-night doubleheader versus the White Sox at Chicago. Someone would likely have to be called up anyway, so if Bonderman is ready, this would be the ideal opportunity.