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Tigers push Tyson Ross’ start back to Friday, juggle starting rotation

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Ross’ start was pushed back due to lower back tightness.

Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Tyson Ross’ next start, originally scheduled for Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels, has been pushed back a day due to lower back tightness. “Ross’ lower back tightened up after sleeping in hospital room chairs recently,” tweeted Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Ross’ wife Ashley recently gave birth to the couple’s first child).

Normally, an update like this wouldn’t be worth a full front page article. However, moving Ross around has some interesting implications for the Tigers’ starting rotation. Lefthanders Daniel Norris and Matthew Boyd will pitch against the Angels on Tuesday and Wednesday as scheduled, respectively. Thursday’s game is now open, with Ross starting Friday and Spencer Turnbull moving back to one of Saturday’s games against the Minnesota Twins. The Tigers will play a doubleheader at Target Field, and will need to call up a starter from the minor leagues.

The problem? They also need to call up a starter for Thursday. Thanks to several off days over the past couple weeks, Detroit has been rolling with a four-man rotation ever since Jordan Zimmermann was placed on the 10-day injured list. Zimmermann is not close to returning — MLB.com’s Jason Beck said it would be another two or three weeks at the earliest after Zimmermann finally picked up a baseball this week — and the Tigers will need a fifth starter for the next two weeks.

The obvious candidate to fill that role is lefthander Ryan Carpenter. The 28-year-old lefthander struggled in 22 13 innings with the Tigers last season, posting a 7.25 ERA and 1.70 WHIP. He has been better down in the minors this season, however, with a 4.09 ERA through six starts with Triple-A Toledo. Carpenter is already on the 40-man roster, and has already been announced as Thursday’s starter by Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire.

Where the Tigers go after that remains to be seen. They will need to call up another starter for Saturday, but their options are limited. Lefthander Matt Hall seems like the obvious fit, as he is scheduled to pitch for the Mud Hens that day. He is also on the 40-man roster, making for an easy call-up. However, he has struggled with the Hens this year, with 24 runs (19 earned) and six home runs allowed in just 26 23 innings. His peripherals are nice, with 34 strikeouts in his six appearances, but Hall wasn’t able to find that same strikeout touch in his few appearances at the MLB level last year.

Lefthander Gregory Soto is also an option. Soto is on the 40-man roster, and worked a curiously short 40-pitch outing on Tuesday evening, perhaps in anticipation for a quick turnaround for Saturday.

The Tigers have an open spot on their 40-man roster after designating righthander Drew VerHagen for assignment on Sunday, which opens some other possibilities for Saturday’s game. They have shown some interest in veteran righthander James Shields, though signing him and sending him straight into action within the next five days seems unlikely. Another option is top prospect Casey Mize, who has toyed with his minor league competition this season. This seems highly unlikely, but the Tigers did the same thing with Justin Verlander in 2005, his lone season in the minors.

Other options for the Saturday start include lefthander Nick Ramirez, who is off to a strong start this year, or a bullpen arm like Sandy Baez. Pushing Turnbull back to Saturday could potentially make it easier for the Tigers to bullpen their way through the other game than if Carpenter and another call-up started, as we had first anticipated.