CLOSE

Bob Wojnowski and Chris McCosky discuss the improving Tigers, the 9-11 start and what to expect from key players in the coming weeks. Detroit News

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

The Detroit Tigers on Thursday called up right-handed reliever Johnny Barbato from Triple-A Toledo after returning outfielder Mike Gerber to the Mud Hens.

Barbato, 25, had a 1.17 ERA in six games for the Mud Hens this season, striking out nine in 7 2/3 innings while also collecting a save. He’s allowed six hits and three walks, good for a 1.17 WHIP.

Barbato has pitched in 37 games — all in relief — in the majors over two seasons with the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s 1-3 with a 5.18 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. In 41 2/3 career innings, he’s allowed 38 hits and 23 walks while striking out 38.

The Tigers got him from the Pirates earlier this year by way of waivers.

The Tigers somewhat surprisingly chose Barbato over left-hander Blaine Hardy, who has pitched excellent baseball throughout April, putting together a 0.52 ERA in six games (three starts) and 17 1/3 innings. Hardy, however, worked six shutout innings in a start Monday against Pawtucket.

Gerber, 25, appeared in three games with the Tigers, going hitless in two at-bats.