Tigers have realigned 'pen, better health after road trip

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit – If the Tigers have been off your radar while they were plodding through a 4-5 West Coast trip, he’s a quick, catch-up on some stuff you might have missed.

For starters, they are getting whole – slowly but surely. Miguel Cabrera, who came off the disabled list before the recently-completed 4-5 West Coast trip, is still not himself, but he is in the lineup every day.

Ian Kinsler has been back for four games and starting to regain his rhythm.

J.D. Martinez, on the disabled list since the start of the season, has been back for three games and has already mashed a pair of home runs and just missed a third on Sunday.

The bullpen looks different these days, too.

Justin Wilson is now the closer. Alex Wilson, Shane Greene and Blaine Hardy are divvying up the seventh and the eighth innings. Chad Bell, working long relief, has earned some more middle-inning shifts.

Those five relievers combined to pitch 19 innings on the trip, allowing one run and seven hits. Rock solid. Here’s the breakdown:

■ Greene – 6⅓ innings, 4 hits, 1 run, six strikeouts.

■ J. Wilson – 4 innings, 1 hit, no runs, seven strikeouts, one save.

■ A. Wilson – 2⅔ innings, 1 hit, no runs, two strikeouts, one win.

■ Hardy – 2⅓ innings, no hits, no runs, one strikeout.

■ Bell – 2 innings, one hit, two strikeouts.

Justin Wilson has been unhittable all year, allowing runs in just one of 17 appearances. But Hardy has been the stabilizer. Since giving up a home run to Jose Abreu on April 29, Hardy has faced 16 batters in six appearances, allowing two hits with three strikeouts.

Deposed closer Francisco Rodriguez, who blew back-to-back saves in Oakland, has been relegated to low-leverage outings for the time being as he works to regain his form. He’s pitched 1.2 scoreless innings since Oakland.

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The starting pitching is basically the same as you remember it. Michael Fulmer has been an absolute beast. Justin Verlander has been good but not quite to his standards yet. Matthew Boyd and Daniel Norris have been what you’d expect from young lefties – mostly solid with bouts of inconsistency.

Jordan Zimmermann, beset by both bad luck and bad location, continues to struggle.

Through it all, they sit at 18-18 — just three losses behind the Central Division-leading Twins — as they begin a six-game home stand before heading out on another arduous, three-city trip. It was suggested to Verlander that having survived six weeks playing with a short deck, the now-healthy Tigers might be at ground zero.

“Nah, I wouldn’t consider it that,” he said.

“The season had ebbs and flows. I guarantee you we won’t go the rest of the year without something coming out of the lineup. It’s just the way baseball is.”

OK, we can work with that. The Tigers have ebbed for six weeks; could it be time to flow?

“We will hit our stride,” manager Brad Ausmus said Sunday. “We’ve been sputtering – scoring runs here, not scoring runs there. This is a good offensive club. We will score our share of runs.”

The Tigers scored seven runs in three different games on the trip. In the other six they scored 13 combined. Here’s the offensive breakdown from the trip.

■ Kinsler – 5 for 15, .200, double.

■ Nick Castellanos – 6 for 35, .171, two doubles, seven RBIs.

■ Cabrera – 7 for 37 (.189), two doubles, three RBIs.

■ Victor Martinez – 11 for 29 (.379), four doubles, three RBIs.

■ Justin Upton – 7 for 32 (.218), three home runs, five RBIs.

■ J.D. Martinez – 4 for 9 (.444), two home runs, three RBIs.

■ Tyler Collins – 0-for-19.

■ James McCann – 6 for 25 (.240), double, two home runs, five RBIs.

■ Andrew Romine – 5 for 30 (.166), double, triple, home run, four RBIs.

■ Jose Iglesias – 5 for 32 (.156), one RBI.

You could say they are due for a breakout.


Series: Three-game series at Comerica Park

First pitch: 7:10 Tuesday -Wednesday; 1:10 p.m. Thursday

TV/radio: Tuesday-Thursday, FSD, 97.1

Probables:Tuesday – LHP Wade Miley (1-1, 2.45) vs. LHP Matthew Boyd (2-3, 3.89); Wednesday – RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (1-1, 6.15) vs. RHP Michael Fulmer (4-1, 2.54); Thursday – RHP Dylan Bundy (5-1, 2.26) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (3-2, 6.28).

Miley, Orioles: It’s been an adventure for him. He’s put 52 runners on base in his seven starts, but only allowed 10 runs to score. His strikeouts per nine innings (10.5) and walks per nine innings (5.6) are career highs. His WHIP is 1.391. He’s been Houdini-like.

Boyd, Tigers: Five of his seven starts qualify as quality starts, but not by Boyd’s personal standards. His 1.44 WHIP and 4.3 walks per nine are too high for his liking. He has been more efficient at Comerica, though – limiting opposing hitters to a .178 batting average (.329 in his road starts).