The Detroit Tigers have now lost nine in a row dating back to August 11 — all to division rivals the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians — after a hot start to the coronavirus-shortened season. As we have come to see these past couple weeks that the team’s winning ways were nothing more than a mirage thanks to a schedule that featured teams somehow worse than them, it is time to turn our attention to the future.
The future is now, but at what cost?
This week featured a triumvirate of top prospects who have made their major league debut without ever playing an inning in Triple-A ball. According to Baseball Prospectus, bringing these three up to the Show signifies that the Tigers are entering the next stage of their rebuild, much to the delight of the Detroit faithful. But also in the words of Baseball Prospectus, the rebuild has been one of a Pyrrhic nature, in addition to being stale and no longer novel.
In short, the blueprint the Tigers have followed since their last stretch of relevance has, by and large, become normalized. It is no longer considered bold or unconventional to roster unplayable dreg for several seasons in the name of a brighter tomorrow. It’s now the norm. Fans have been conditioned not to rage against several consecutive years of noncompetitive ball, but rather to savor contention cycles while they’re open.
However, that ship has already sailed and the franchise has chosen its path into tomorrow — not to mention that there has been plenty of rage among the fanbase during this rebuild — so we will not let that wet blanket of reality ruin our fun for now.
Mize, Skubal, Paredes... Oh My!
So let us look at the bright side: it has been an exciting week watching the rookies get their feet wet in the bigs. And while FanGraphs believes that the arrival of the big three was ahead of schedule, the timing could not have been any better for a team enduring a precipitous free-fall in the standings down into the cellar of the American League Central Division.
Faced with injuries, the majors’ most ineffective rotation, and a losing streak that erased a surprisingly strong start to the abbreviated season, the Tigers promoted three of their top prospects — third baseman Isaac Paredes, lefty Tarik Skubal, and righty Casey Mize, the last of those the number one overall pick of the 2018 draft — to provide immediate reinforcements. The moves aren’t likely to send the team to the playoffs, even given the field’s expansion, but they should make the Tigers an improved and more interesting club even as they endure growing pains.
It is a bit of a stretch to suggest that the addition of the three highly-touted prospects will make any significant improvement in this team’s on-field performance, but at least we get to see some fresh players and not veteran retreads who are either past their prime or never-has-beens as the team’s losing ways continue.
My, my, Mize
Things come in threes today, and for our third entry on the amazing Mize, The Athletic looks at his major league debut in 13 different ways. Cody Stavenhagen takes the reader on a walk through Casey’s development as a pitcher and a person through the eyes of those who have witnessed his meteoric ascent. If you have a subscription to The Athletic, it is well worth a read; if not, I leave you with a shot of Mize’s grip on his nasty split-finger pitch.
Here's that grip on Casey Mize's NASTY splitter. pic.twitter.com/oNlWMjgNVD— Adam Dubbin (@AdamDubbin) August 20, 2020
In another article from The Athletic, Jason Stark takes a quick look at Matthew Boyd’s implosive qualities so far this season. While he and colleague Eno Sarris both predicted that the left-handed hurler could make history this season, it has not been the kind of history they had expected.
First two hitters of Boyd’s start Monday against the White Sox: Tim Anderson HR, Yoán Moncada HR.
First two hitters of Boyd’s previous start, also against the White Sox: Tim Anderson HR, Eloy Jiménez HR.
Complete list of all pitchers in history to allow back-to-back homers to lead off two consecutive starts: Matt Boyd. End of list.
Complete list of all pitchers in history to allow back-to-back homers to lead off two games in one year against the same team: Matt Boyd. End of list.
Things that make you go, “Hmm.”
Carson Fulmer, we hardly knew ye
Carson Fulmer, a reclamation from the White Sox snatched off the waiver wire back on July 23, finds himself back in baseball limbo after the Tigers released him on August 20. Over seven games in the Olde English D, he recorded a 6.75 ERA, a 1.65 WHIP and a 4.81 FIP over 6 2⁄3 innings, with seven strikeouts, three walks and a home run surrendered.
The Tigers today announced that RHP Buck Farmer has been reinstated from the 10-day injured list. Farmer had been sidelined since August 10 with a left groin strain. In a corresponding move, RHP Carson Fulmer has been designated for assignment.— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) August 20, 2020
Reliever Buck Farmer takes his place on the active roster after his reinstatement from the injured list, on which he was placed for a left groin strain back on August 10. Before the injury, Farmer played a significant role on a then-surprising bullpen corps. He brings back a 2.84 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and a bloated 4.27 FIP in 6 1⁄3 innings to a relief squad in great need of help, especially given how poorly the starting rotation has performed this season.
Dixon Machado is a defensive wizard
Former Tiger Dixon Machado is still chugging away in Korea, flashing some sick leather for the Lotte Giants. While his bat went ice cold after a torrid start to the season at the plate, he is now hitting a solid .303 with a .360 OBP and a .813 OPS on the season. Not too shabby, Dixon.
Around the horn
Thom Brennaman’s slur leads to reflection on MLB’s LGBT outreach. Angels’ Joe Maddon says ‘enough is enough’ as Shaun Anderson nearly hits Mike Trout again. Everything about this MLB season is weird, including the stats. Baltimore Orioles legend and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. reveals prostate cancer diagnosis, says he has made full recovery. Padres hit a grand slam against Rangers in MLB-record fourth straight game. MLB warns Trevor Bauer of discipline if Reds pitcher wears cleats supporting Joe Kelly.