Tigers' Gose has work to do against left-handers

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Minneapolis — The Tigers' shopping list this offseason is going to be long — two starting pitchers, possibly three relievers, a right-handed hitting left fielder, and that's just the first page.

They are hoping they don't have to add a right-handed hitting center fielder to that list.

They would love to pencil in Anthony Gose as the everyday center fielder for 2016. For that to happen, they have to believe he will hit left-handed pitching a whole lot better than he has this year.

"For sure," manager Brad Ausmus said.

Gose is hitting .155 with a .234 on-base percentage in 64 plate appearances against lefties this season. To be fair, that's a small sample size. He platooned with right-handed hitting Rajai Davis until the end of July when Yoenis Cespedes was traded.

Since then, he's gotten more work against left-handers and has shown improvement.

"He's definitely made strides offensively," Ausmus said. "He's better on the breaking ball. He's really worked on his bunting. And he's learning to slow the game down. He's still young. People lose sight of the fact that he's still young."

Tigers win, eliminated from Central race

Overall, Gose, 25, is hitting .261 with a .322 on-base percentage and a .702 OPS — all career bests.

"I'm just trying to have good at-bats; that's really all you want," Gose said. "Of course you want to get hits. That's what everybody wants. It's hard to control getting a hit, but I can control having a good at-bat every time up."

He has reached safely in 11 straight games and is hitting .357 in that stretch. He has developed a much better approach with two strikes and has begun to make progress against lefties.

"Same approach (against lefties and righties)," he said. "I'm seeing them more now. The more you see them, hopefully the better at it you get, and the more comfortable."

His swing seems conducive to hitting left-handers. He's not a dead pull hitter and his bat, when he's going well, stays in the strike zone longer. That should enable him to stay on outside pitches from left-handers.

"Generally they are pitching you away, down and away," Gose said. "The ball (from a lefty) is constantly moving away from you. Not too many lefties pitch in. There's some that do, but not many — especially not many relievers."

Gose has spent countless early batting practice sessions working on his bunting with Ausmus and Omar Visquel. That can be a weapon against lefties, but that's not why he's adding it to his game.

"Just trying to get on base," he said. "It's a great way to save a day, a great way to get on base. They never really said, 'Hey, we want you to bunt more.' But it's something we've been working on. If I can get a couple extra hits that way, it's worth it."

Ryan to start

Kyle Ryan, who threw 70 pitches out of the bullpen Monday, will get a start on Monday, and, depending on how things go, it might not be a one-time thing.

With Anibal Sanchez (shoulder) done for the season, with Matt Boyd's starts being stretched out to keep his innings down, and with Randy Wolf and Kyle Lobstein struggling, Ryan might find himself starting every fifth day.

For now, he and Wolf will start in the doubleheader against the White Sox on Monday.

Daniel Norris, on the disabled list since Aug. 20 with an oblique strain, will start here tomorrow. He will be capped at 50 pitches. If all goes well, he will start again on Tuesday against the White Sox — though he will still be on a pitch count.

Ausmus said it will be all hands on deck out of the bullpen after Norris reaches 50 pitches Wednesday.

"It's something you have to plan in advance," he said. "It doesn't help that Kyle Ryan threw 70 pitches Monday and Buck Farmer, the other long reliever, is on the shelf."

Farmer, who has forearm tightness, threw without discomfort Tuesday and could throw a bullpen session when the team gets back to Detroit.

The rotation for the series against the Royals this weekend is set — Justin Verlander vs. Johnny Cueto Friday; Boyd vs. Edinson Volquez Saturday; Alfredo Simon vs. Kris Medlen Sunday.

About Boyd

Ausmus said Boyd could make two or three more starts, even though he is reaching his innings ceiling.

"He's getting close," Ausmus said. "There is no hard cap. We're keeping an eye on it. He should make two or three more starts, keep him going to the end of the season so he isn't just sitting around watching."

The Tigers will either limit his pitches in those starts, or give him an extra day or two between the starts.

Around the horn

… Shortstop Dixon Machado (hamstring) said he was feeling better on Tuesday, but he wasn't available to play. Ausmus said, barring an emergency, he wouldn't play Machado until the weekend.

… Bruce Rondon, who felt tightness in his arm Monday, felt no discomfort on Tuesday and was available to pitch.

Tigers at Twins

First pitch: 8:10 p.m. Wednesday, Target Field, Minneapolis

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Scouting report

LHP Daniel Norris (1-1, 5.06), Tigers: This is Norris' first start since he injured his oblique Aug. 19. The plan is to limit him to 50 pitches, though the way Norris breezed through his rehab, he may lobby for more.

RHP Ervin Santana (5-4, 4.73), Twins: He seems to be hitting his stride. He's won his last three starts, allowing three runs in 22 innings. Opponents hit .228 off him during that span with an OPS under .600. He has not pitched well at Target Field, though. In four starts, he's allowed 17 earned runs in 22">2/3"> innings. His home WHIP is 1.721.