Minneapolis — By the time Saturday’s two games are over, as part of the day-night doubleheader they are playing against the Twins, the Tigers hope they’ve taken two giant steps forward with their starting pitching.
That’s because Justin Verlander will have started for the first time since the shoulder-soreness scare he got in Pittsburgh on Aug. 11.
And also because Anibal Sanchez will have thrown a second time off flat ground as he continues to progress from the right pectoral strain that landed him on the disabled list on Aug. 9.
“He will throw between games,” manager Brad Ausmus said.
Sanchez said he felt no discomfort in Friday’s session, which was the first time he’s put his healing injury through any kind of throwing-motion test.
He said he “let it out a couple of times at the end” in Friday’s session — so that’s a good sign, too.
But one good turn on flat ground needs to be followed by another before Sanchez starts throwing off a mound. If his arm feels good again in a longer session on Saturday, he’d probably be able to progress to the mound.
Not to a game just yet, mind you. But his recovery would be on schedule.
“And with expanded rosters in September,” said Tigers’ general manager and president Dave Dombrowski, “it’s easier to break a guy back because you have more pitchers.”
As for Verlander, all systems are go for him to start for the first time in 12 days. He elected to start Saturday’s second game.
Farmer’s second chance
Buck Farmer will make his second start as a Tiger in Saturday’s first game.
“He’ll still have some nerves because of the way it went the first time,” Ausmus said. “He came up, went right back down, had a rough start (at Triple A) and now he’s back up. So he’ll still be nervous.
“But if he does what he did last time, just throw strikes, I think he will give us a chance.
“I know we are asking a lot from a kid who was in A-ball earlier this year, and we’ll keep that in mind. But we still have to win the game.”
The Tigers didn’t expect Luke Putkonen to be available to pitch for them again this season. He’s been on the disabled list with elbow problems since April, but Dombrowski said that the right-handed reliever came over from Lakeland while the Tigers were playing Tampa Bay earlier this week, and “threw well.”
“He came in on Wednesday, threw a good bullpen, and he felt great. Then he threw again (Friday) and felt great again. So he’s getting closer.”
Tigers at Twins
First pitch:1:10 p.m. and 8:10 p.m.
TV/radio:FSD/MLBN/1270-AM and 97.1-FM, first game; FSD/1270 and 97.1, second game.
Game 1 probables
RHP Buck Farmer (0-0, 7.20), Tigers:Farmer’s second start for the Tigers. He started the season in Class A.
RHP Yohan Pino (1-5, 5.37), Twins:Pino has a 6.28 ERA in last five starts.
Game 2 probables
RHP Justin Verlander (10-11, 4.76), Tigers:Verlander’s first start since Aug. 11 when he came out of the game after one inning in Pittsburgh.
RHP Trevor May (0-2, 9.00), Twins:May has allowed seven runs in 62/3 innings he’s lasted in two starts.