Parting shots: Tigers send Cabrera out with a day off, Zimmermann with one last inning

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Kansas City, Mo. — You had to do a double take when the Tigers released the starting lineup for Sunday's season finale.

A name was missing. A name that had been on the lineup card in all 57 games and in the starting lineup for 56 of them. Miguel Cabrera was not listed.

“Miggy is getting a well-deserved day off,” interim manager Lloyd McClendon said. “This guy has toed the rubber every day and he’s never asked for anything. We talked last night and he said it would be nice if he could get today off, then if we have to play (Monday), he will be ready.”

Cabrera finishes with a .250/.329/.417 slash line, with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs. But, more encouraging, over his last 127 plate appearances (32 games) he hit .310/.378/.496 — hitting six home runs and knocking in 24 runs in that span.

He will go into the 2021 season 13 home runs shy of 500 and 134 hits short of 3,000.

Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera wasn't in the starting lineup Sunday against the Kansas Royals.

One last hurrah

It was a classy move by McClendon. Give the ball to Jordan Zimmermann on the final day of the season to make one last start, throw one last inning, in a Tigers uniform. 

Zimmermann, whose time in Detroit was beset by injuries, beginning two months into his five-year, $110 million contract in 2016, threw a scoreless inning, punching out Alex Gordon (on his retirement day) and Salvador Perez.

"Probably relief more than anything else," McClendon joked when asked about the emotions in the dugout after Zimmermann's inning. "We all wanted Zimm to have a clean inning and a successful exit. He did a really nice job and everybody is extremely proud of him."

When Zimmermann was healthy, he was an effective pitcher for the Tigers. He was the American League pitcher of the month in his first month with the club in 2016. But he wasn't often healthy. Injuries — mostly to his neck, shoulder, back and forearm — exacted a heavy toll.

"I don't know if you saw him when he was an All-Star," McClendon said. "This was was phenomenal. He was a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately he didn't have a very healthy career here in Detroit.

"But what a class act. He is a great guy and every body in that locker room loves him."

Zimmermann politely declined to give a Zoom interview afterward.

Future is bright

The big-league baptism of pitching prospects Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize is in the books. Skubal finished his eighth start Sunday with a strong five-inning, six-strikeout performance, marred only by a pair of solo home runs.

Mize had seven starts. Both dealt with the typical inconsistencies and growing pains most young pitchers experience. But, in McClendon's eyes, both made sterling first impressions.

"If there were expectations on them, they exceeded them," he said. "They competed well. This was a learning process. They got rid of the jitters and as a result, they will both be better going into next year.

"But they have to continue that learning process. They have to take away the good and the bad from this short season but both of these guys are going to be just fine. Some day they are going to be one and two in this rotation." 

Around the horn

The Tigers activated infielder Sergio Alcantara off the taxi squad, taking the roster spot vacated when Willi Castro went on the injured list Saturday. Castro strained his shoulder during an at-bat in the second inning.

...Alcantara got the start at second base Sunday and had one of the Tigers' three hits.

...Harold Castro, who left the game Saturday with back stiffness, was available Sunday “only in an emergency,” McClendon said.

...It's not official, but it appears the Tigers will be in line to have the No. 3 pick in the 2021 draft.

Twitter: @cmccosky