Chicago — The Tigers, eventually, plan to recall a couple of pitchers off the playoff-bound Toledo Mud Hens roster. And most certainly two or three of them will be starting pitchers.
So, unless the Tigers go to a six- or seven-man rotation — not likely — somebody in the current rotation is going to miss some starts. Francisco Liriano, who will start here Tuesday, is in line to possibly be bumped from the rotation.
“Right now, he’s in the rotation, but we can change,” manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game against the White Sox on Monday. “We’re talking about calling a couple of people up and we want to see them, too. We can use (Liriano’s) spot, we could stick them in there if we had to.
“Frankie can bounce back and forth (between starting and the bullpen). It’s not a big deal. At least I don’t think it is.”
It actually is a big deal to Liriano. He will be a free agent this offseason and he would like a strong September to establish some market value for himself.
“It will help me decide what I’m going to do next year,” Liriano said of this final month. “It will help if I can finish strong and find a way to go deeper into these games. I want to just keep working until the end. I’ve been through worse before and I got out of it.”
After a strong start to the season, Liriano hasn’t posted a win since April 28 (the team is 3-13 in his starts since then) and he hasn’t finished six full innings since July 4.
“It’s disappointing,” he said. “The last three weeks my body feels great, but I can’t seem to get into a rhythm and get deep into a game. My body feeling great, that’s usually a good starting point for me. Before I was all beat up and I was doing better.
“Now I feel great and I just can’t get it going. Just have to keep working. I want to finish strong.”
Had Liriano pitched well in his last outing, he may have found himself traded to a contending team. According to Detroit News and other reports, the Tigers had a couple of interested trade partners scouting his start against the Yankees.
It did not go well. Liriano said he was relieved not to be traded.
“To be honest, you don’t want to go to a new team when you are struggling,” he said. “To go to a team that’s competing for the postseason, I’m not ready for it.”
Which is why he wants these last four or five starts.
“We are going to want to get some of these younger guys some starts,” Gardenhire said. “We want to see them, so Frankie is one of the candidates (to go to the bullpen).”
Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris, because of health concerns, could also miss starts.
Right-hander Spencer Turnbull and left-hander Matt Hall are two of the pitchers the Tigers may want to look at — though that is not official.