Happy Monday. We find ourselves fresh off a fun little Sunday afternoon game where the hometown team overcame the best efforts of Jake Odorizzi, the friendly confines of Comerica Park, and the wind to pull off a suicide squeeze and take an extra-inning win to split the weekend series with the Astros. There are still plenty of flaws with this ball club, but I’ll be damned if they haven’t become fun to watch. I can only hope they keep that up.
Normally, Monday gives us a bit of a breather, but not this week. We have Cleveland on tap tonight. While we wait let’s see what news is out there.
The first one to drop
Well, it has happened. After witnessing a parade of frustrated hurlers dropping trou to demonstrate their distaste for what now seems to be a common practice in baseball, the mandatory efforts of the umps paid off. Seattle Mariners pitcher Hector Santiago was busted with a foreign substance on his mitt. The mitt was sent for authentication, whatever that means, and Mr. Santiago will serve a 10-game suspension. Neat.
Fulmer to the IL
Disappointingly, Michael Fulmer has once again landed on the IL. This time it’s being chalked up to a cervical spinal strain which sounds really not fun. A better understanding of what that means — basically a sore neck — alleviates some of the concern, but nonetheless, Fulmer finds himself shelved for the foreseeable future. Miguel De Pozo — who I prefer to imagine as one of the earlier explorers of South and Central America as opposed to a professional baseball player— has been called up to fill the spot. De Pozo has been pitching quite well at Toledo allowing just 2 runs over 17 plus innings with 23 strikeouts and six walks. He’s the latest to get the chance to sink or swim with the big boys.
Salute your Shorts
It seems the organization is picking up what Zack Short is laying down. Called up recently as the 27th man, it would appear Short made enough of an impression to get a longer-term look. When the club had to option someone after Friday’s game, Isaac Parades was the guy, leaving Short with something of an opportunity. Short, who had been struggling recently in Toledo, is happy for the opportunity and hopes to make the best of it. He’s shown over the last four games that he can contribute, though it remains to be seen if he can make a positive sustainable long-term impact.
The disappearance of José Ureña
The early season optimism around Jose Urena and the idea that he may have been a steal at $3.25 million has evaporated. Not only has his once-sparkling performance fallen precipitously from the numbers he put up in April and May, he is now struggling to fill the basic role he was brought on for in the first place: to eat innings. The major turning point here seems to be in relation to the injury he suffered that landed him on the IL in late May. Since his return his performance has been lackluster, to put it kindly. Ureña says he feels fine, but something obviously isn’t right. With few options available, it seems Ureña is going to get ample opportunities to try and figure things out.
Hittin’ Mike Hessman
If you’re not familiar with new hitting coach Mike Hessman (you should be) here’s a good write-up of the minor league baseball home run king who is helping players in the Tigers organization find hits and some perspective on how hard the job is.
Return of Verlander?
Justin Verlander is set to become a free agent for the first time this off season. In a recent interview revealed that a return to Detroit is something he thinks about. Verlander, who is sitting out 2021 recovering from Tommy John surgery, spent 13 years of his 16-year career with the Tigers. How likely is a return to Detroit? Probably not very, at least, for 2022.
“Ultimately, the decision comes down to what’s best for my career. If that aligns with that possibility, then maybe it does.”
For now, Verlander is focused on rehabbing his elbow and making a pile of money with whoever decides to pay handsomely for his services in 2022.
Around the horn
Akil Baddoo continues to defy presumed limitations of experience. MLB names All-Star Game finalists. No Tigers made the list. Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola ties Tom Seaver’s 51-year-old MLB record with 10 consecutive K’s. Oriole’s Trey Mancini gets invited to the home run derby.