On Sept. 1, major league clubs can expand their active player rosters from 25 players to as many as 40 players, if they choose. Last year Detroit recalled 10 players and activated two more from the disabled list, while sending two players down. The Tigers called up 14 players and activated two more in September 2014.
Four relief pitchers were among those players called up between Sept. 1-8, along with three infielders, one outfielder, and a catcher. Some players will be recalled on Sept. 1 and others when their minor league season ends on Sept. 5.
Players who are on the active roster prior to Aug. 31 at midnight are eligible for the playoff roster, but any player in the organization as of that time can be added to the playoff roster to replace another player who is on the 15- or 60-day disabled list, so that’s not a large factor.
Here are the most likely players to be added to the Detroit Tigers’ active roster in September:
The Disabled List
Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Pelfrey are expected to be activated from the disabled list fairly soon. While a starting pitcher or two may be removed from the Tigers’ rotation, no starting pitchers need to be sent to the minor leagues. Zimmermann has begun a rehab assignment in Toledo and is ahead of Pelfrey’s timetable for return.
Nick Castellanos is expected back around mid-September, and the Tigers can hang onto Casey McGehee, who has been filling in at third base.
John Hicks is a virtual lock to be recalled, as the only catcher on the 40-man roster currently in the minor leagues. The seven year minor leaguer is hitting .308/.356/.483 .838 with 10 home runs in 343 plate appearances this season.
Dixon Machado was up in Detroit briefly after Jose Iglesias was injured, and is a capable defensive shortstop. He has hit .265 with a .335 on base percentage, three home runs and 17 steals for Toledo this season. Machado is the only infielder currently on the 40 man roster who is in the minor leagues.
Steven Moya was the lone outfielder called up in September last season and is likely to return to Detroit this season as well. The big left handed hitter hit .258 with five home runs and an OPS of .812 in 95 plate appearances with the Tigers this season, and has a line of .280/ .308/ .497/ .805 with 18 home runs and five steals in 380 plate appearances for Toledo.
Anthony Gose is an outfielder who may not be called up. After hitting just .209 with Detroit, he was sent to Toledo where he got into an altercation with manager Lloyd McLendon, and was further demoted to Erie. He has hit just .206 between Toledo and Erie. Don’t be surprised if he is a roster casualty once the season is over, although center field is not exactly a position of depth in the Tigers’ system.
Jacoby Jones may benefit from Anthony Gose sputtering and Alex Presley being designated for assignment. He would have to be added to the 40-man roster to be called up, but the Tigers may not want to start his option years yet. After a strong start at Erie, he has not fared as well in Toledo. Jones has played mostly in center field as well as third base this season, and has played some shortstop in his career. He is a long shot to be called up this season.
Blaine Hardy should be at the top of the list of relief pitchers to be called up. The left-hander probably should already be in the major leagues ahead of a few others on the roster. Hardy was the Tigers’ most reliable reliever over the 2014- 2015 seasons, but has only appeared in 15 games for Detroit in 2016, with a 4.96 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in limited action. He has allowed two home runs this season in Detroit, after giving up just three in the previous two years. He has a 1.53 ERA in 30 games and has not allowed a home run this season for Toledo
Dustin Molleken made his major league debut with the Tigers this season at age 32, making four appearances and allowing four runs in 8-1/3 innings for Detroit. He has played in 37 games including five starts with a 3.74 ERA for Toledo this season.
Buck Farmer has been used exclusively as a starter in Toledo, but has pitched out of the bullpen in ten games with the Tigers this season. He has a 3.94 ERA in 16 innings for Detroit, and has a career ERA of 7.13 in parts of three major league seasons. Farmer has an ERA of 4.12 in 19 starts with the Mud Hens this year. He won’t be starting in Detroit.
Warwick Saupold appeared in six games for the Tigers this season, allowing eight runs and 17 hits while striking out ten batters in 9-2/3 innings of work.
Joe Jimenez is the most intriguing relief pitching prospect in the Tigers’ organization. While he’s not on the 40-man roster, he has rapidly moved up the ladder this season and is currently the closer in Toledo. After 17 scoreless appearances in Lakeland, he moved up to Erie and then Toledo with a combined ERA of 1.63 which is also his career number, a WHIP ratio of 0.85, and has allowed just four home runs in four seasons. At age 21, Jimenez has racked up 51 saves and has struck out 13 batters per nine innings in his career, including 13.2 K/9 this season.
Other pitchers on the 40-man roster who are less likely to get a call up include Angel Nesbitt, Jairo Labourt, and Donn Roach.