Tigers scramble to find five starters
Cleveland — The Tigers rolled into Cleveland Sunday night thinking, finally, after moving a couple of pitchers in and out the last few weeks, their starting rotation was set. And by the third inning of Monday night’s game it was thrown into disarray.
First Jordan Zimmermann was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a neck strain before the game. Then Daniel Norris strained his right oblique in the third inning. He, too, was placed on the DL after test results revealed a Grade 1 strain.
There is a chance both could be back after the All-Star break. There is also a chance they won’t be.
“I would love to give you an answer, but I don’t have one right now,” manager Brad Ausmus said before Tuesday’s game. “We don’t know who is starting after the break. We’ve got to wait on Zimmermann’s test results. We just have a lot of things going on.”
Zimmermann left the team to see a neck specialist. The tightness in the right side of his neck has been persistent for a couple of weeks and didn’t abate even after he didn’t throw for four full days.
Norris, who is expected to be out 10 days to two weeks, is heading to Lakeland to work out and do his rehab work.
“I knew it wasn’t that bad; it just kind of (stinks),” Norris said of the diagnosis. “They want me to go to Florida so I can keep throwing through the break. That way I don’t take two weeks just off.”
Ausmus said Norris will probably have to make at least one rehab start after the break. Most likely Zimmermann will, as well. So it seems unlikely they will be ready to rejoin the rotation immediately following the break.
“Right now, we have to find a starter for Saturday,” Ausmus said. “We’ll figure it out by then.”
Anibal Sanchez started in place of Zimmermann Tuesday and gave up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. It’s doubtful he earned another start on Sunday.
“I think he’s lost a little off his fastball,” Ausmus said when asked what he thinks has happened to Sanchez this season. “And sometimes you have to change your style of pitching when that happens. And, it always comes back to command.”
As for Saturday in Toronto, which would have been Norris’ next start, the Tigers could call up Matt Boyd from Toledo. His last start was Sunday night.
“We’ve got Zimmermann down and we got Norris down,” Ausmus said. “We don’t really even have five starters at this point. So, hopefully (Michael) Fulmer has another good day tomorrow, and we’ve got Justin Verlander and Mike Pelfrey after that. We’re going to have to figure something out for the weekend.”
Right-hander Buck Farmer was recalled from Toledo Monday night and worked 2 2/3 innings. He was sent back to Toledo after the game.
“It has nothing to do with Buck’s pitching tonight,” Ausmus said. “But he’s not going to be able to pitch for the next three or four days and we need another arm.”
Ausmus said a corresponding move will be announced before Wednesday's game.