The Detroit Tigers optioned right-handed reliever Al Alburquerque to Triple-A Toledo after Wednesday's loss to the Houston Astros. Called up from the Mud Hens to replace Alburquerque on the 25-man roster is right-handed reliever Evan Reed.
Expected to be an important piece to the back end of the Tigers' bullpen, the 24 year old Alburquerque has battled mightily with his control this season. Command issues have come to the fore in his last six appearances, walking 13 in his last 14 1/3 innings, losing the Tigers' trust in the process. Overall he has an 0-1 record and 3.14 ERA in 15 games. But more illuminating is Alburquerque's elevated WHIP of 1.814.
Alburquerque's wildness has limited how the Tigers could use the mercurial right-hander, ultimately sealing his minor league fate. The final straw in the Tigers' eyes was his short appearance against the Astros Wednesday.
Called on in the eighth inning, the game tied and runners on first and second with two out, Alburquerque wild pitched the runners into scoring position before ending the inning by striking out Chris Carter. Allowed to start the ninth, Alburquerque walked the lead off man, J.D. Martinez, who would later score the game winning run. He was immediately pulled by Jim Leyland.
After the game, Leyland admitted Alburquerque's inability to throw strikes forced his hand:
By my own admission, I didn’t feel real comfortable doing it, because of the switch-hitters, however you can’t let him walk ‘em. That’s depressing. If I’d have felt like he was going to throw the ball over the plate, or if he’d shown any signs that he was going to throw it over the plate, I’d have obviously left him in.
Originally a third round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2007 who needed Tommy John surgery in 2011, the 27 year old Reed is a career minor leaguer was claimed off waivers from the Miami Marlins in early April.
Reed split his 2012 season between the Double-A Jacksonville (27 G, 3-1, 2.34 ERA, 12 SV) and Triple-A New Orleans (23 G, 2-3, 7.16 ERA, 1 SV).
Thought to be Triple-A bullpen depth more than a big league prospect when he was acquired, Reed has pitched well in middle relief for the Mud Hens: 0-1, 3.00 ERA, 7 BB and 28 strikeouts (12.0 K/9) in 14 appearances over 21 innings.