The Tigers have announced that they will recall Jacob Turner, the 20-year-old right-hander who is the consensus top pitching prospect in the Tiger organization, to start Thursday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Turner started the season in extended spring training after tendinitis in his right shoulder took him out of the race for the fifth spot in the Tigers' rotation in March. He has pitched well in the minors this season. In Advanced-A Lakeland, he made four starts, posting an ERA of 1.66 while allowing opponents a .218 average. In seven more starts for Triple-A Toledo, Turner has an ERA of 3.43, allowing 34 hits, 27 strikeouts and 19 walks in 41 innings. He has held opposing hitters to a .227 average with an impressive ground ball to fly ball ratio of 1.72. He has allowed just one run in each of his last three starts for the Mud Hens.
Turner's curve ball and change up are rated the best in the Tiger organization by Baseball America. He has moved up quickly through the Tiger organization, pitching effectively at each level.
Turner made his major league debut on July 30, 2011, allowing two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Angels. He became the youngest Tigers pitcher to start a game in his major league debut since Bruce Robbins in 1978. He also had problems holding runners on base and allowed five stolen that first start. In three major league starts, Turner is 0-1 with an ERA of 8.53, allowing 17 hits and four walks with eight strikeouts in 12.2 innings.
Turner’s next scheduled start for the Mud Hens would have come on Wednesday evening against Lehigh Valley.
There is a spot in the Tiger rotation with Turner's name on it. It’s just a matter of when he is ready to step up and claim it. Once he does, he may not give it up. However, the most likely scenario at this time is that Drew Smyly will reclaim his spot in the rotation when he returns from the disabled list, which he was placed on due to a blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand, possibly later in this month.
After Saturday's start, the Tigers sent Casey Crosby back down to Toledo, and that they will skip his next turn in the rotation. With a day off on Monday, the Tigers will have Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander pitch on Tuesday and Wednesday on their normal four days of rest.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland could also have had Doug Fister and Max Scherzer pitch on normal rest Thursday and Friday, but his recent comments indicated otherwise. Leyland told reporters that Fister will get an extra day of rest, meaning that Scherzer would likewise have an extra day off. That left Thursday's start open for either a call up from the minors, or one of the pitchers from the bullpen to get a spot start.
Smyly, a 23-year-old lefty from Arkansas has arguably been the Tigers’ second most consistent starting pitcher this season while Fister was on the disabled list. He has made nine starts for the Tigers, going at least six innings in six of them, with an ERA of 3.96 and a WHIP of 1.27. He is eligible to come off the disabled list June 26.
The Tigers have also at least temporarily recalled Thad Weber, who was starting in Toledo, for the second time this season to provide some depth in the bullpen. Weber had a record of 4-5, an ERA of 3.73 and a WHIP of just 1.03 with the Mud Hens. He has allowed just 49 hits and 13 walks in 60 innings of work, his weakness being that he has given up eleven home runs. In just two appearances during his previous call up to Detroit, Weber pitched four innings in relief, allowing four runs on ten hits with two walks and one strikeout.
Casey Crosby must remain in the minor leagues for at least 10 days, unless another major league player is added to the disabled list before that time. Crosby went 1-1 in three starts, with an ERA of 9.49. Andrew Oliver continues to struggle with his control, allowing 54 walks in 73 innings at Toledo.