Tigers' Lewicki reaches goal, set to start in MLB debut

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers starting pitcher Chad Bell gave up eight hits and four runs in his first big-league start in Sunday's 11-1 loss to the Indians.

Detroit — Another game, another big-league debut.

On Monday, right-hander Artie Lewicki will get the start against the Royals and become the seventh player to make his debut with the Tigers this season.

His contract was purchased from Toledo and he effectively takes Justin Verlander’s turn in the rotation.

“It was always my goal to be here, but it happened quick for sure,” said Lewicki, who started the season at Double-A Erie before being moved to Triple-A Toledo. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

Lewicki, drafted in the eighth round out of Virginia, is the first player from the Tigers’ 2014 draft class to make it to the big leagues.

“He’s been throwing the ball great,” said catcher Bryan Holaday, who worked with Lewicki at Toledo. “His numbers speak for themselves. He’s done a really good job of going out there and competing, throwing strikes and challenging hitters.

“He’s got four really good pitches and there is something about his fastball. I don’t know if it’s his delivery or if he hides the ball, but it seems to really get on hitters.”

He was 5-0 at Toledo with a 2.03 ERA. His fastball velocity is in the low-90s, but he’s been able to command it well. His best secondary pitch has been a curveball. He also throws a slider and a change-up.

“I throw strikes,” he said. “I pitch to contact and use my defense behind me. I am not a guy that’s going to beat you with stuff. But just induce weak contact and put it in play.”

Like Myles Jaye, who made his debut Saturday, Lewicki is a protégé of Erie pitching coach Willie Blair.

“They threw me a bone last year and promoted me to Double-A and I got a chance to work with Willie Blair toward the end of the year,” Lewicki said. “I felt like with him I made a lot of strides in my mechanics and stuff that allowed me to what I’ve done this year.”

Lewicki said Blair helped both with physical and mental aspects of pitching.

“He’s a player’s coach; he’s been there before,” Lewicki said. “He pitched 10 years in the league. He knows how you are feeling. With his eyes and his experience, you can relate to him easily. He picks up on little things you might not see yourself.

“And he’s really good at translating it.”

Spoiled debut

Chad Bell’s first Major-League start got off to an inauspicious start when left-fielder Mikie Mahtook inadvertently batted a Jose Ramirez liner over the fence for a two-out home run in the first inning of Sunday's 11-1 loss.

“That’s just a freak play,” said Bell, who gave up five runs and eight hits over four innings. “You don’t see that often, but you can’t do anything about it. It was a 3-1 count to Ramirez and put the barrel on it.

“The thing I could have done better there is get in a better situation (in terms of getting ahead in the count).”

Bell had allowed seven runs to the Indians in 5.2 innings out of the bullpen earlier this season.

“It’s just executing better, especially late in the count,” Bell said. “I felt like I got ahead of a few people and let them right back in it and got it back to even counts. Can’t happen.”

Manager Brad Ausmus said before the game that the rotation would be shuffled after the Royals series. It is unclear whether Bell will get another start or return to the bullpen.

Rough day

Daniel Norris faced four batters in his first relief outing since coming off the disabled list and being sent to the bullpen. He gave up back-to-back doubles, then walked two hitters.

As has been his problem, even during his rehab starts in Toledo, he couldn’t command his fastball.

“Let’s not jump the gun,” Ausmus said. “It was one outing. Let’s not make any grand declarations off one outing…Just keep plugging away.”

Around the horn

JaCoby Jones knocked in the only Tigers’ run Sunday. He battled out of an 0-2 hole and stayed on an off-speed pitch from Josh Tomlin, slapping it up the middle to score Jeimer Candelario, who had singled.

…Catcher James McCann had two more hits, and is hitting .336 in his last 37 games. He’s raised his batting average from .199 to .264.

…Miguel Cabrera served the second of his six-game suspension and Alex Wilson the second of his three games for their part in the brawl against the Yankees on Aug. 24.

Twitter: @cmccosky