The early half of this week has had no shortage of exciting shakeups, specifically for the pitching staffs throughout all levels of the Detroit Tigers organization. The catalysts for all of this were the demotions of Artie Lewicki and Warwick Saupold on July 8. Mark Montgomery and Junichi Tazawa were promptly released a day later. That’s when the real fun started happening, and it opens up questions about what might be coming next as several top arms reach the next rung on the organizational ladder.
On Wednesday, the Tigers announced that Kyle Funkhouser and Matt Hall were being promoted to Toledo on the heels of their stellar performances dating back to early June.
With those moves, the Mud Hens rotation looks like this:
Hall was used strictly as a reliever up until June 22, when the Tigers starting stretching him, giving him four consecutive starts. Presumably, he was being groomed to join the Toledo rotation, so it wouldn’t be too surprising if another move is announced before the conclusion of the Triple-A All-Star break (or shortly thereafter).
After the Funkhouser/Hall announcement on Wednesday, Alfred Gutierrez was promptly promoted from Lakeland to Erie.
The SeaWolves rotation currently features:
Breto has also been used in a spot-start capacity. I’m not sure he figures to remain a permanent rotation piece for the rest of the year, however, despite pitching very well when called upon. He’s in the rotation for now, but could move if the organization needs room for other players.
Specifically, Franklin Perez could be on the way. He has made three rehab starts in the Gulf Coast League, with no apparent setbacks, and will take the ball for Lakeland on Wednesday against Bradenton. It’s logical to assume he will slot into one of those rotation spots in Erie almost immediately — he might have jumped straight there were it not for the Double-A All-Star break this week.
Spenser Watkins has also had six consecutive quality starts for the Flying Tigers. Perhaps he is a candidate for the fifth spot, given that he is 25 years old and dominating Florida State League hitters.
Lakeland’s rotation looks like this at the moment:
Burris Warner and Eudis Idrogo are capable of going deep into games to round out the rotation. With or without a Watkins promotion, it appears there’s room there in Lakeland for Casey Mize to potentially join the rotation for the balance of the season, whenever the Tigers decide it’s time for him to pitch.
West Michigan is stocked with six starters at the moment:
Tom de Blok
Hernandez looked very strong in his last outing, showing that, even at 19, he can compete in the Midwest League. Another opening in Lakeland (beyond one filled by Mize) would create an opportunity for Elvin Rodriguez to be challenged, or a potential return to the FSL for Tom de Blok.
Connecticut is stocked with:
Arriera just turned 20, and has had mixed results so far in Connecticut this year. Wolf is an experienced college arm whose arsenal could probably play just fine in the Midwest League right now. Either of those two are potential candidates to be challenged if a need arises.
Beyond the starting rotation, Sandy Baez was recently converted to a full-time relief role. He is a prime candidate to bump up to Toledo for their stretch run at the International League crown, and could even find his way back in Detroit before rosters expand in September. This adds even more intrigue to the remainder of the season, which promises to get even crazier with the trade deadline looming.