On September 1, Major League Baseball allows its teams to expand their rosters from the typical 25-man limit. Teams can both call up and use more players than in the other five months of the season, and the entire 40-man roster is eligible to play. Most teams use this as an opportunity to bolster bullpen depth and give prospects a short glimpse of the big league lifestyle before breaking them into the majors in a larger role the following season.
The Tigers don't have many top prospects in the upper reaches of their minor leagues, but will still take advantage of the expanded rosters to add some depth as they finish out the 2015 season. This is largely a guessing game, especially since we don't know new general manager Al Avila's tendencies, but we still have a decent idea of which players the organization favors. Here are how the September call-ups may shake out.
There is a decent chance that Lobstein, who is currently on rehab assignment in the minor leagues, may be back with the major league team prior to September 1. This would be important if the Tigers were in the playoff hunt -- only players on the active roster as of August 31 are eligible for postseason play, with a few exceptions -- but in their current position, it is a moot point. Lobstein has pitched well enough to earn a major league spot. The only question is whether he will displace someone in the starting rotation or work out of the bullpen. The Tigers may also utilize a six-man rotation down the stretch if they want to limit the innings of Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd, but still give them starting experience.
Of the relievers to be called up, Greene and Krol are the most likely choices. Greene probably won't start for the major league team down the stretch unless someone is injured (or the club limits Norris' and Boyd's innings), but he and Krol should see some work out of the bullpen. Dixon Machado and Daniel Fields are the position players most likely to get the call, but they probably won't see much playing time. The team called up James McCann for added catching depth last season, so I could see them doing the same with Holaday this year.
Earlier this season, I would have considered Nesbitt a slam-dunk September call-up. He made the team out of spring training and pitched well for his first few weeks in the majors. However, he has struggled since being sent down to the minors, with 17 strikeouts to 14 walks in 28 1/3 innings. Ferrell got a more recent look from the Tigers, but has not appeared in a game since July 19 due to an undisclosed injury.
Steven Moya was one of the Tigers' September call ups a year ago after a big season at Double-A Erie. Moya went 3-for-8 in 11 games with the Tigers last year, but his 2015 season has not been as successful. Moya is batting just .235/.281/.401 with 15 home runs for Triple-A Toledo this season. He may get called up, but probably won't get much playing time. Marc Krauss may be called up for depth at first base, but Jefry Marte has clearly surpassed him on the organizational depth chart at this point.
Wynton Bernard was one of the organization's biggest success stories in 2014, winning the Midwest League MVP after participating in an open tryout during spring training. Bernard has had an up-and-down season at Double-A Erie this year, but is not likely to get a cup of coffee in the majors with a loaded outfield depth chart ahead of him. Ditto the relievers on this list. Zeid has not appeared in a major league game this season, and his numbers in Toledo aren't impressive enough to warrant a call-up. VerHagen and Valdez are more likely to be called up (especially if Ferrell is unable to pitch), but their only major league appearances this season have come when the team sorely needed bullpen depth.
One more likely call-up (in name only) is currently on the 25-man roster. With Miguel Cabrera set to return from injury during this weekend's series against the Houston Astros, the Tigers will have to send someone to the minor leagues. This will likely be a pitcher, as they currently have 13 on their roster. If they option someone -- Buck Farmer and Kyle Ryan are the two most likely candidates -- that pitcher will more than likely be back in Detroit on September 1.