The Tigers are a last chance team these days, and so we’re seeing quite a few last chance type players take the field. From the return of Jacob Turner, to the recent success of Drew VerHagen, to the sand running out of Daniel Stumpf’s hourglass, several players are probably getting their final opportunity to make an impression with the organization. When a player starts to reach their late 20’s, with no meaningful major league success to hang their hat on, the pressure not to waste a chance keeps mounting.
Such players would do well to take a page from Bartolo Colon, who appears to forget failure as well as anyone. The 45-year-old ironman became the winningest Latin American-born pitcher in major league history on Tuesday. You never know how many last chances you have. Bartolo has made the most of them, rising again and again when he looked down for the count. So the chances keep coming.
For Turner, things haven’t gone very well, continuing a trend that began almost the moment the Tigers traded him to Miami six seasons ago in exchange for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. His efforts in Toledo this year had been decent, but after all this time, it’s still a fringe profile at best.
For Drew VerHagen, finally getting healthy, and learning to get out of his own way, have brought him the best sustained stretch of his career at the major league level. With a rebuilt slider that sits nicely in the tunnel between his curve and his fastball, the big right-hander is finally seeing that improvement in whiff rates that was always necessary for him to stick at the major league level.
The Tigers acquired veteran lefty, Josh Smoker, who has battled through adversity for years to keep his dream alive, on Tuesday. He’s another who is running out of time, however. Smoker’s chief competition, Daniel Stumpf, is running out of time as well, and may make way if he can’t finally put something together in the season’s final two months. Can we just see Matt Hall please? Throw us a bone, Tigers.
Lynn Henning has a piece on the newest Tigers acquisition, shortstop Willi Castro, who came over from Cleveland for Leonys Martin, and has been rolling for the Erie SeaWolves so far. On the flip side, number one prospect, Casey Mize, had a rough go in his home debut for Lakeland.
Speaking of last chances, Chris McCosky of the Detroit News opined yesterday that the Tigers would be foolish to give up on James McCann as their primary catcher after the 2018 season. We here at Bless You Boys beg to differ in the strongest possible terms. McCann is no part of the future, and remains a liability in every phase of the game other than throwing. It’s time to move on.
Around the horn
David Laurila has a great piece on Rick Porcello’s evolution as a pitcher, and the rediscovery of his high school curveball. The Washington Nationals may have the best teenage hitter of all-time in Juan Soto. Michael Baumann at the Ringer tackles the violence in sports issue through the lenses of the Urban Meyer and Roberto Osuna cases.
A minor league team threw a no-no and lost. Thanks Rob Manfred. ESPN argues that the shift has ruined Albert Pujols, while we here would take a moment to remind everyone that Father Time is still undefeated. YOLO at your leisure. On the other side is young Nick Madrigal, whose brave quest to never strike out in professional ball ended on Sunday night. Matt Manning was one of Tuesday’s top prospect performers.
Baseball is awesome
King Felix striking out Beltré....and then cracking up laughing.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 8, 2018
Never retire. Either of you. pic.twitter.com/DHQYvajkTW