Lost in the afterglow of the Detroit Tigers' comeback 5-3 win at Tampa Bay yesterday was a decision about the starting rotation. (It wasn't lost in the comments of our recap, however, as people talked about this quite a bit.)
As first reported by MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez (subbing in for Jason Beck), Jim Leyland has decided to keep Nate Robertson as a starter, and move Armando Galarraga to the bullpen.
This development isn't a big surprise, in light of Robertson's performance in his last two starts. He's allowed one earned run in 10 innings (for an 0.90 ERA), with eight strikeouts and three walks. His velocity seems to have returned, as well as the sharp movement on his slider. Those growths in Robertson's left elbow probably inhibited him more than we realized as he was struggling to make the team during Spring Training (and perhaps throughout last season, as well).
Robertson will start Friday night at home against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Galarraga, on the other hand, who was optioned to Toledo to rest an inflamed elbow, started on Saturday and didn't look very good at all. Pitching less than three innings, he gave up six runs, four hits, and three walks. Leyland didn't completely rule out a return to the rotation for Galarraga, depending on how Jarrod Washburn's sore left knee recovers. (Washburn is scheduled to start on Thursday vs. the Royals.) But the plan for now is to keep him in the bullpen.
As you know if you've been watching Galarraga all season, he hasn't looked quite right since April. The question is whether the problems are physical or mental with Galarraga. Obviously, the sore elbow is an issue right now, but he's had continued difficulty throwing strikes. Leyland has been critical of him for not being aggressive enough and attacking hitters.
I've been of the opinion that Galarraga suddenly fancied himself a strikeout pitcher, after averaging approximately one per inning through his four April starts. That's not how he found success last year.