Welcome to Monday. We get a rare spring training night game Monday night when the team travels to play the Toronto Blue Jays. The field is narrowing for the final roster and chances that players have to prove they should be coming north with the team are getting fewer and fewer. Michael Fulmer certainly did a lot to help his case pitching three scoreless innings in relief on Sunday that left AJ Hinch impressed. Does this mean we’re going to see Fulmer take on a Daniel Norris swingman type roll? We’ll see, but if that’s the best option for the team, I’m sure Fulmer would prefer that over not being in Detroit at all.
So, what’s going on with Spencer Turnbull? It’s hard to say exactly. Other than being able to acknowledge that he’s away from the team due to COVID-19 protocols the Tigers aren’t able to share much else. They have said his absence is a result of something that isn’t his fault. What does this mean? Well, he’s certainly in danger of missing the start of the season. At a point in the spring where he should be getting stretched out for starter level innings, he’s not able to pitch at all. Hinch has indicated that extended spring training isn’t really an option for Turnbull, so it’s looking more likely that we see him slot in somewhere at the back end of the starting rotation if he’s unable to make his first turn. Hopefully.
Among the handful of rule changes Major League Baseball is considering are some tweaks that would hamper the effectiveness of Matthew Boyd if they ever came into being. Boyd is pretty crafty with his pick-off moves and the proposals — which involve forcing the pitcher to disengage with the rubber prior to a pick off throw — could really make it harder for him to utilize those skills. On Saturday, Boyd used pick off moves effectively twice, helping him our of some sticky situations. Boyd, and Manager AJ Hinch, both know that it’s not a sure thing that this rule gets implemented. They’ll wait — along with all of us — while we see how it plays out in the minors this year before we have to worry about it showing up in a big league game.
The state of Michigan issued a new epidemic order loosening the restrictions on public gatherings that have allowed for the Tigers to operate at 20 percent capacity, so that’s a big green light for the welcome back wagon at CoMerica Park. The team will welcome fans starting with the April 1 opening day game. Along with the 20 percent cap come some other restrictions including mask requirements, cashless concessions, and seating in pods to name a few. Insert obligatory joke about 20 percent being just about the standard crowd size regardless of restrictions here.
Skubal proving it
In his Wednesday start, Tarik Skubal’s fastball was not quite getting the job done. In these situations good pitchers adjust. Skubal took the opportunity to remind the Tigers that he is indeed a good pitcher with more than a monster fastball. It’s another step in proving that he’s ready for a spot in the 2021 rotation. AJ Hinch hasn’t confirmed it yet, but his words convey a pretty clear message.
“I’m not going to tip our hand on what we’re doing, but they’re doing everything that we asked,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said Wednesday about Skubal and Julio Teheran, who had four scoreless innings and seven strikeouts. “They’re having success, and they’re doing well. And they need to pitch every five days.”
Around the horn
Cubs minor leaguer arrested after police find 21 pounds of meth in his car. Has Tony La Russa lost his touch? The White Sox don’t think so. Vanderbilt pitcher and top draft target Jack Leiter throws a 16K no-hitter. LeBron James joins Major League Baseball with an ownership stake in the Boston Red Sox.