The Tigers have been pretty resilient over the last few weeks as injuries thinned an already overstretched pitching staff. They’re 9-6 over their last 15 games, and still hanging onto second place in a quite bad AL Central division. Despite a rotating series of call-ups they’ve weathered the storm, and are closer to getting back to full strength.
Reliever Alex Wilson was recalled from Triple-A Toledo effective on Thursday. Infielder Ronny Rodriguez unsurprisingly drew the short straw. He’ll pass Wilson on I-75 heading the other direction. The Tigers will go with a short bench for the moment.
Wilson struck out a pair in 1 1⁄3 innings of work with Toledo on Tuesday to complete a short rehab assignment. He’s struggled with the long ball this season, but remains a more trusty option than some of the guys the Tigers have tried the past few weeks. If Louis Coleman can continue to perform, and Wilson is right, the Tigers’ bullpen will be a much more effective unit.
Meanwhile Jordan Zimmermann cleared 70 pitches in a rehab start for the Hens on Wednesday, and seems close to returning to the Tigers’ rotation. He allowed a run over 4 1⁄3 innings of work, punching out five. Zimmermann has been on the disabled list since May 8 for a right shoulder impingement. He got off to a solid start this season, so here’s hoping he’s got another stretch of relative health ahead of him.
Francisco Liriano will potentially require a rehab start before returning to the Tigers’ rotation. Daniel Norris has begun some light throwing, but is still a ways from returning to regular baseball activities. Daniel Stumpf remains on the disabled list with ulnar nerve irritation, although the latest word is that he avoided structural damage.
Positive early grades for the Tigers’ draft
When you have the number one overall pick, and you take the unanimous number one ranked player, the reviews better be good. But the industry seems generally really positive about Parker Meadows and Kody Clemens, the Tigers’ second and third round picks. The Tigers also picked up a lot of potential values throughout the top ten, and may find themselves with a talented player out of that group. Bleacher Report gave the Tigers an A minus.
The home run surge, solved?
The baseball has been studied like an alien life form by a multitude of scientists, journalists and even a major league baseball commissioned panel of experts. We know now that the ball began flying farther on average sometime soon after the 2015 All-Star game. And reduced drag has been isolated by said panel as the primary altered feature of the baseball. But sometimes, you need a combination physicist-fiber arts expert to solve a mystery.
Dr. Meredeth Wills is a sports data scientist, and former astrophysicist. In an article for the Athletic—subscription is required—she describes what she found when she dissected a selection of baseballs of both 2014 and 2018 manufacture. It appears, that the actual laces have increased nine percent in diameter in the current baseball. They’re thicker and probably stronger and more durable. That’s a small change, but there is a good amount of lacing on a baseball. Alan Nathan, University of Illinois physicist and author of the Physics of Baseball, thinks there may be something to the idea. It may also explain the outbreak of blistering to pitchers’ fingers that has roughly coincided with the home run surge.
You can follow Dr. Wills on Twitter @Bbl_Astrophyscs
Shohei Ohtani is a gift
Not only is Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani dropping jaws with his incredible mix of pitching and hitting talent. He’s having fun. Learning about the peculiar “melee on the field” customs of major league baseball, for example.
His reaction was priceless!— cindy (@shohei_fan17) June 2, 2018
Shohei Ohtani was so excited to congratulate his teammates on their win...until he realized it was his first mlb bench-clearing moment.
Former Nippon-ham Fighters teammate Chris Martin makes a cameo appearance.#大谷翔平 pic.twitter.com/FNgXJiwY04
Unfortunately, in keeping with the story about the baseball’s laces, Ohtani had to leave Wednesday night’s start against the Royals. The reason? That’s right, a blister. This was the second time Ohtani has left a start early due to blisters. He had no such issues in his Nippon League career.
Around the horn
Pitching is just too good for hitters these days. Steven Goldman at the Hardball Times looks at baseball’s impact in times of strife. Marc Normandin investigates why minor league players never unionize. The Yankees are on the prowl for pitching and the trading season may be upon us before we know it. Ian Kinsler has been better recently, but some signs say he’s just in a steep, unrecoverable decline. Finally, Brock Deatherage gets a mention as Cut4 looks at the MLB draft’s best names.
It’s been a bit of a rough go for Jason Heyward in Chicago. Good to see him come through with a memorable grand slam on Wednesday.
Bryce Harper had a bit of an equipment issue.